Invite Learners to Act
Knowing the gospel and understanding the doctrine is all well and good, but until there is action in the form of living those principles we know and understand, we won’t ever develop deep testimonies. The teacher’s charge is to instruct then invite to act.
In marketing, when you want someone to do something you give a call to action. “Click here!” says the big bold text on your computer screen. In marketing, they want you to do something because your action will eventually put money in their pocket.
The gospel doesn’t work that way, but the principle is the same. The Savior invited people to live the principles and understand the doctrine he taught because he knew they would find joy by doing so. Everyone has their own agency to act as they wish, so we can’t force anyone to do something they don’t want to do. We also have no business brow-beating them into compliance with gospel standards.
All we can do is to invite them to participate with love. This is why having the Spirit in our classroom is so important. When we testify and invite to do good, the Spirit carries that message and invitation into the hearts of our class members. If they go home and actually study more or pray more it is because of the influence of the Spirit they felt, not because of anything we did. Only the Spirit can cause conversion.
Any encouragement to do good, to follow through on an assignment, to pray more, etc. needs to be done with love and respect for the person we are addressing. If they don’t feel our sincerity, our invitation will fall on deaf ears. All of our invitations to act need to encourage the students to use their agency to draw closer to God.
Testify of Promised Blessings
When you read Alma 32 and study about faith being like a seed, what is it that causes people to plant the seed? Isn’t it the hope of what it will produce? Why would we do anything if we have no hope that something good will happen because we did that thing?
This is what we do when we testify of truth and righteous living. We focus on the good that comes from living that kind of life, the kind of life Christ lives. When we focus on talking about the blessings that flow from prayer, obedience, and any gospel principle, we begin to create hope in the listener. We want them to have a burning hope in their soul that if they live the gospel they too will find peace and support in this life and joy in the world to come.
Follow Up on Invitations to Act
We have talked about this before when we have talked about inviting people to read something or study something before the next class. We need to follow up on that invitation and find out who did it and what their experience was. As they share their experience with the class, eventually others who didn’t take your invitations seriously will begin to consider trying one of them.
The more good experiences they have trying out your invitations, especially if they experience the Spirit and get answers to prayers in the process, the more often they will want to accept the invitations. If you need to work with another teacher to follow up on these invitations, consider doing it. It will be well worth the extra effort it takes to stay coordinated as teachers in the class.
In the Church, we call following up on an assignment reporting. Anytime we are given an assignment by our leaders we are expected to return and report on that assignment. This is what you are doing in your class. Even small children are not too young to learn the principle of return and report.
Support Gospel Learning in the Home
As we draw to the end of this manual, we need to have this principle repeated. We teach. It is what we have been called to do. But we are only a morsel, a snack of spiritual food on one day in seven. If our class members are not to starve to death before next week, they need to learn to feed themselves at home.
We need to promote study and prayer in the family. It is in the family that most of the gospel lessons are learned through real-life action. Whether we teach the parents and support their efforts to teach their children, teach the youth to turn to their parents for help, or teach little children to rely on their parents and older siblings for help in learning and reading the scriptures, we need to act as a cheerleader for the family.
Even though we are studying how to teach our lessons and how to listen to the Spirit each week, we still have a responsibility to be considering how to help the members of the class transfer what happens in class into their home and family.
One of the questions each teacher will need to answer for themselves is how to encourage class members to read and study for their own personal benefit. If the members of your class feel you are asking them to read just so they can be better prepared for your lesson, they will ignore your invitation to act. You need to find a way to convince them that you genuinely want them to study on their own because it will make them happier and stronger in the gospel of Christ.
Help Learners Support Each Other
You are only one person. Even if you have a fellow teacher with you, you are still only two people. There is power in unity. The Lord knows this better than any of us and we are constantly being encouraged by the Brethren to find ways to create unity among us as Latter-Day Saints.
When you approach your teaching as an opportunity to help each person in the class come to the support and aid of the other members of the class, you create a cohesive unit. When the class bears their testimony, they come together. When they fast together, they become stronger as a unit. When they pray or sing together, they feel closer.
Look for and pray for ways to help your class members care about each other. Show them you care. Teach them to be patient with one another, to be tolerant of differences, and to be accepting of opinions that differ from theirs. These are all things that invite the Holy Ghost into your lesson.
If everyone participated in a true confession in class one day, you might be amazed at the number of people who feel lost in the scriptures. They don’t understand the vocabulary. They don’t understand the way the sentences are put together. They don’t remember the stories. They don’t, they don’t, they don’t. In short, they feel unequal to the task of studying the scriptures on their own.
This is what we are trying to do when we work to bring our class into a unity of spirit. We are trying to help them feel enabled that together, as a class, as a family, or as a group, they can still study the scriptures and become more and more comfortable with how they are written and the messages they are trying to teach us.
The more comfortable people are studying the scriptures as a group, the more comfortable they will be venturing out on their own study. The key is to keep praying for understanding. Teach them that the Spirit will, if invited into our personal and family study, teach us what we don’t know, and guide us in our thinking. This takes faith, and we will need to bear testimony of it often.
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