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4 Things We Have Been Asked Not to Do in Sacrament Meeting (That You Might Not Know About)

You are most likely familiar with the lyrics from a popular Primary song: “Saturday is a special day; it’s the day we get ready for Sunday.” Many members have adopted the habit of using their weekend to prepare for the Sabbath. However, there might be some other habits sneaking into your Sunday worship that aren’t in accordance with the Church handbook. Here are just a few that might surprise you.

1. Using Visual Aids in Sacrament Meeting

When you get that call to speak in church, if you’re like me, you’ll most likely peruse conference talks, the scriptures, and sometimes even Pinterest in preparation. Of course, you want your talk to be the one everyone remembers. You might think, “Oh, there are so many things I could show to reinforce my topic, like holding up a blanket to illustrate how the Holy Ghost is the Comforter.” Nope. You’d better save that for the Primary or a baptism talk because it states in Handbook 2:

Members should not use visual aids in sacrament meeting or stake conference. Such teaching methods are more appropriate in classroom settings and leadership meeting” (section 18.4).

If you are struggling to find a way to make your talk memorable, try telling a story or sharing the analogy you wanted to, just without the prop. Both are great ways to help listeners remember the point.

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2. Asking the Members to Turn to a Passage in Their Scriptures

Well, darn. With visual aids out, you still want your talk to be memorable. You come across your favorite scripture while preparing. It goes along perfectly with your topic. This is how everyone will remember your talk! Make sure everyone marks it. Everyone needs to know about this one; it should be everybody’s favorite now! Well, go ahead and tell them about the scripture, but do not instruct everyone to take his or her scriptures out and turn with you to find it. According to Handbook 2:

To maintain an atmosphere of reverent worship in sacrament meetings, when speakers use scriptures as part of their talks, they should not ask the congregation to open their own books to the scriptural references” (section 18.2.2).

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3. Whispering into a Child’s Ear for a Testimony at the Pulpit

It’s Fast Sunday, and you decide it’s about time for your 3-year-old to give his testimony in front of the entire congregation. Why not? He says the darndest things at family night. Everyone needs to witness how darling he is. I’ll just help him by prompting him on what to say, you think. But you may want to think again.

It may be best to have young children learn to share their testimonies in settings such as family home evening or when giving talks in Primary until they are old enough to do so in a fast and testimony meeting without assistance from a parent, sibling, or other person” (section 18.2.3).

Not only are these prompted testimonies not in line with the Church Handbook, it’s also important to remember that children aren’t immune to getting stage fright. Until they are comfortable with public speaking and can recite their own feelings unaided, it’s  better leave young testimonies for that Monday night activity or for Primary.

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4. Taking Pictures or Videos in the Chapel

Sometimes this is the hardest one. Yes, those children are irresistible to watch up there in front of everyone—particularly in the annual Primary program. It’s natural to want to take a picture of them for your  photo album, right? Or perhaps Grandma couldn’t make it to the program, so you just record a segment of it and send it to her. Or better yet, Facebook Live or Snapchat. Or . . . maybe not. Here’s what Handbook 2 instructs:

“Taking photographs or making video recordings in chapels is not permitted” (section 21.2.10).

Few places still exist in the world where Instagram and Facebook don’t get to go. And that’s not so bad. By putting our phones away, it helps make the chapel a sacred place and lets us forget about the world outside for a while.

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Whether we have never done any of these or we struggle with them on a regular basis, there are always ways we can improve our Sabbath worship. So let’s redouble our efforts toward obedience and make our next sacrament meeting experience better for ourselves and our fellow worshippers.

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