Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way
Posted by robf on October 25, 2012
The new missionary age policy announced this past General Conference may have overshadowing perhaps an even bigger and more long-lasting set of changes also implemented by the Church–new teaching guidelines (Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way) and a new youth curriculum (Come, Follow Me) for Youth Sunday School as well as Young Men/Young Women. While the missionary guidelines will affect those who serve missions, these new materials and coordinated teaching approach will affect all youth in the Church.
Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way is a new set of youth teaching guidelines currently available online as a series of webpages, or a pdf document. Hopefully, all teachers in the Church will familiarize themselves with these guidelines, and it will go a long way towards improving teacher effectiveness. Here at Feast Upon the Word, we’ve spent a lot of time over the years talking about gospel teaching. I’m happy to see that many of the issues that we’ve talked about are addressed in this new resource.
Clearly, one of the first distinctions that is made in Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way is that we are teaching people (in this case, youth) rather than lessons. Teachers are encouraged to love those they teach, know who they are, prepare themselves to teach by living gospel principles, use the scriptures, share simple stories and real life examples, ask questions, invite others to testify of what they know, trust those they teach, and invite them to act in faith.
When it comes to the youth, they will no longer be following along in the Standard Works in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine class. The new Come, Follow Me lessons are grouped around twelve themes–one for each month. These themes will be studied in both the youth Sunday School classes, as well as Young Men and Young Women classes. Instead of mandatory lessons to be taught, teachers are provided with learning outlines that can be adapted as needed for each class as well as unique local situations. Teachers are told that
Learning outlines are not meant to prescribe what you will say and do as you teach. They are designed to help you learn the doctrine for yourself and prepare to engage the youth in powerful learning experiences. Tailor these experiences to their interests and needs. Consider ways you can inspire them to act for themselves in seeking, finding, and sharing answers to their own gospel questions.
Seeing as how the new missionary age guidelines can be seen as effectively making the mission a capstone experience of the youth gospel program, and youth are going to need better training as they leave earlier for missions, it will be interesting to see how this new approach works. Will this new approach help youth better prepare for serving missions? Will it model better teaching for them, so they will know better how to teach as missionaries? Will it improve teaching in the Church in general, and help teachers better learn and live gospel principles?
I’m also interested in how this teaching approach is going to influence how youth and others approach the scriptures. Will the scriptures be seen even more as merely a source of proof texts and examples of gospel principles? Without going through the Standard Works during Sunday School, students will be even more reliant on Seminary to help them read through the Standard Works in any kind of comprehensive way.
At any rate, there are a lot of good teaching guidelines in Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way. Hopefully, we will all be better teachers as we explore, contemplate, and work with this new resource.