Sunday, March 9, 2008
Yes! This is what Gospel Doctrine is Supposed to Be Like!"
What a wonderful Sunday School experience I had today! The recently called teacher (who just happens to be married to my cousin) was exactly what a gospel instructor is supposed to be. He's wonderful at facilitating an edifying gospel discussion and humbly inviting the Spirit to teach each of us through the use of inspired questions; questions that really make you think about your testimony, how Christ ministers to each of us, and to liken the scriptures to yourself in ways that you haven't already done. He was so respectful and sensitive to the Spirit, and as a result, people who I have never heard comment spoke up and we all learned from each other.
This is a class/ward that has been used to mostly sitting and having the gospel preached to them in a one-way direction during various teaching settings. I've lamented this many times to my wife; how the culture of teaching still needs work in these parts. (Was I just spoiled while in a BYU married student ward?) Then again, there have been a few wards I've visited when I had to wonder if they ever received "Teaching, No Greater Call" along with the rest of the Church. Granted, not all Gospel Doctrine teachers have seminary teaching or MTC teaching experiences, so I can't be too tough on some of those teachers, but I expect a lot out of Church.
As Jeffrey R. Holland put it in "A Teacher Come from God": "When our prophet is calling for more faith through hearing the word of God, we must revitalize and reenthrone superior teaching in the Church—at home, from the pulpit, in our administrative meetings, and surely in the classroom. Inspired teaching must never become a lost art in the Church, and we must make certain our quest for it does not become a lost tradition."
"President Spencer W. Kimball once pled: "Stake presidents, bishops, and branch presidents, please take a particular interest in improving the quality of teaching in the Church. ... I fear," he said, "that all too often many of our members come to church, sit through a class or a meeting, and ... then return home having been largely [uninspired]. It is especially unfortunate when this happens at a time ... of stress, temptation, or crisis [in their life]. We all need to be touched and nurtured by the Spirit," he said, "and effective teaching is one of the most important ways this can happen. We often do vigorous work," President Kimball concluded, "to get members to come to Church but then do not adequately watch over what they receive when they do come."
"On this subject President Hinckley himself has said, "Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church." May I repeat that. "Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church. Eternal life," President Hinckley continued, "will come only as men and women are taught with such effectiveness that they change and discipline their lives. They cannot be coerced into righteousness or into heaven. They must be led, and that means teaching." (Jeffrey R. Holland, "A Teacher Come from God," Ensign, May 1998).
I rejoice in my experience today. I found myself getting so excited as inspiration just kept coming to me because of the Spirit and the direction the teacher steered the class. I wanted to jump up and down and exclaim "Yes! This is what Gospel Doctrine is supposed to be like!". Instead of coming away underwhelmed and uninspired, today I came away rejoicing. This is what Church is supposed to feel like!
"[Real spiritual food] is what our members really want when they gather in a meeting or come into a classroom anyway. Most people don't come to church looking merely for a few new gospel facts or to see old friends, though all of that is important. They come seeking a spiritual experience. They want peace. They want their faith fortified and their hope renewed. They want, in short, to be nourished by the good word of God, to be strengthened by the powers of heaven. Those of us who are called upon to speak or teach or lead have an obligation to help provide that, as best we possibly can." (Elder Holland).
So thank you Brad! Yes. This is what Sunday School is supposed to be like.
“Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.”