Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Something new: fourth-Sunday lessons

Posted by jennywebb on January 10, 2012

I know that I have not been an active participant on this blog (other than reading) for quite some time. However, I am hoping to change that somewhat this year.

In my personal study of late, I have found it useful to study the Conference addresses as if I were preparing to teach them as a fourth-Sunday lesson. By this I mean that I have tried to focus my notes around a central theme from the talk that I feel would make an interesting and useful discussion and that would allow the Spirit to testify to specific truths and principles. I have also tried to include questions that I want to ponder further. (Personally, I tend to reflect on something better if I come up with such questions.) After some consideration, I have decided to post these notes here in the hope that they may prove useful over time. I realize, however, that there are a few potential problems with this plan.

1) The talks that I choose to study have been up to this point the ones being taught in my fourth-Sunday RS class. Given the nature of the fourth-Sunday lessons, they will not, of course, necessarily be the ones chosen in your ward. I realize therefore that the usefulness of these notes is somewhat hit-and-miss. I hope to mitigate that problem partially by posting weekly rather than monthly.

2) Given the focus of the Feast blog and Feast wiki, the question arises as to how scriptural these posts will be. I answer this in several ways. The first is to point to the quasi-canonical status of the current conference talks. We believe in continuing revelation. We believe in prophets, seers, and revelators. The talks given in the general conferences are held by the general membership as that most current version of an ongoing divine dialogue between God and his children. While not canonized scripture, they are not simply nice thoughts either. It is my belief that by reading these talks carefully they may yield fruits similar to that of reading scripture, and thus it is worth our time and attention here on Feast. I hope that reading these talks will contribute to the larger project of how we read and teach scripture.

My second answer would be simply to note that given my personal interests in reading and scripture these notes tend to focus on questions of scripture. That is, my own questions tend to center around how a general authority reads a certain passage of scripture, or the ways in which the speaker expands upon a scriptural theme, image, motif, etc. Additionally, I believe that as I study and write with the Feast audience in mind that I will tend to bring out this scriptural focus in my notes.

Finally, I would just add that I am interested as well in the “how.” That is, how do we teach lessons from conference talks? How do we develop meaningful discussions and questions from these talks? In my experience, the ways in which these fourth-Sunday lessons function and are taught varies widely, and I’m interested in continuing the excellent pedagogical discussions held here at Feast with specific regard to the teaching of conference talks.

I hope that these posts will be useful, and I thank the Feast community in advance for providing one of my favorite spaces on the internet!

7 Responses to “Something new: fourth-Sunday lessons”

  1. Pattyann said

    I study the conference talks too, it is always nice to read what others get out of the same talk. I just love learning, and this is a great place to improve my own personal study habits! Thank you for all the work.

  2. Robert C. said

    This looks like an exciting undertaking, Jenny, and I’m excited to read your next post!

  3. RobF said

    Bravo! Look forward to this.

  4. BrianJ said

    Hooray Jenny!

    I would say in response to your concerns:

    A) Discussion of General Conference talks is more than welcome here. “Quasi-canonical” is a good term.

    B) We had a discussion long ago about how scripture-focused we wanted posts on this site to be. I believe that the consensus was that the site should stay true to its mission—feast upon the scriptures—but need not be too rigid in that endeavor. Thus, any topic that helps us to study the scriptures is certainly welcome (e.g., teaching advice, a philosophy book review, Conference talks).

  5. annegb said

    I’m not sure about the answer to your question, but I always read them with an eye to what BILL can learn from them or what he can use in a lesson or talk (I never get to teach anything because of all my personal flaws). I try to pick a sentence or two that covers the point and underline them. Because he doesn’t read the Ensign, but he uses it a lot.

  6. kimberkey said

    Jenny, thanks so much for doing this. I, as well, am deeply interested in the “how.” I feel like I’ve gotten a decent handle on teaching from scripture, but teaching from conference talks or other general authority statements is something I’m still figuring out. I look forward to reading these posts! Thank you!

  7. jennywebb said

    Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. I’m finishing up another post—it’s good to have a public commitment for me for this kind of thing :)

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