This article is intended to help readers better utilize the new Teaching in the Savior's Way manual that was recently released.
Bear Your Testimony Often
When we first start to teach the thought of having to bear your testimony, all the time may be daunting. But you will soon learn that there are many ways in which to bear your testimony.
You can start with the declaration that you are going to bear your testimony. You can just make a simple statement that you know something is true. You can also give a quick example of a principle and affirm to the class that you have experienced this principle in action for yourself. When moved upon by the Holy Ghost, you can also state the principle or doctrine, bear witness of its truthfulness, and promise that as they obey the law of the gospel they too will gain a witness of its truthfulness.
Bearing our testimony should be an organic experience. It should flow out of our gratitude to the Lord for his blessings to us. At first, we may find it uncomfortable to bear our testimony at least once each lesson. But after a while, you will find that bearing your witness of the truthfulness of what you have studied comes much more naturally than you ever thought possible.
The same principle of bearing witness in the classroom applies to bearing witness at home. Our children and our spouse need to know that we have a testimony of the various parts of the gospel. Our children and less-active or non-member spouses need to hear these testimonies.
As a child grows and is still developing a testimony of the basics of the gospel, they rely on the witnesses they hear from the adults in their life. This is why learning to express your gratitude for what you have come to know through the Spirit is important. The more naturally we are able to express what we have learned through the Spirit, the more comfortably we will be able to witness for the Lord to a neighbor or less active family member without causing discomfort for either party. Such testimonies are born from the love felt from a loving Father in Heaven. It is difficult to object to such an expression of gratitude.
If the Spirit has revealed something to you, don’t be afraid to say it. Look at Alma 5:45-48 and see how Alma bears his witness of what the Spirit has taught him. Anything the Spirit has taught the prophets He can teach to us as well. Never bear witness of what you don’t know from the Spirit, but always bear witness of what you have learned. It is okay to admit that you are still learning the truthfulness of a certain principle or that you are still figuring something out. Your class will appreciate your honesty.
I encourage you to watch the video clip from lds.org entitled A Man without Eloquence. It is powerful and moving. Brigham Young talks about the power of the unadorned testimony, born simply, and without affectation. That which we speak with simplicity and sincerity, coupled with the power of the Holy Ghost, can change lives.
Invite Others to Bear Their Testimony
Good news! You don’t have to be the only one to bear testimony during your lesson. In fact, your lesson will go all the better if you can engage the members of your class in bearing their testimonies. The bearing of testimony invites the Spirit. This is just one of the many ways you can encourage His attendance in your meeting. This is the same reason that Fast and Testimony meeting is often the most powerful and uplifting sacrament meeting of the month.
Remember that the bearing of one’s testimony is deeply personal. Invite class members to bear their testimony about what you are discussing, but be careful not to put anyone particular person on the spot, unless the Spirit directs otherwise. For some members, having the spotlight shined on them in this way will be enough to prevent them from returning to your class.
Generally speaking, an open invitation to the class to talk about their experiences with a particular doctrine or principle will be sufficient to get at least one or two to share with the class. If you have worked to help the class members feel comfortable opening up in front of each other, you will probably get some to bear testimony that you would likely never see do it in a larger meeting.
Bearing our testimony also cements or awakens the truthfulness of that thing within us. If you want to target someone to bear their testimony, but don’t have any idea if they even have one, try saying something like, “Sister Johnson, how do you feel about keeping the Sabbath day holy?” This will allow her to express herself without having to commit herself to anything in particular. But often, once she starts talking about her experience with the Sabbath day, the Spirit will help her come to realize what she does know, and her testimony of that principle will deepen and strengthen.
Invite Us to Testify is a powerful video that will help you to invite others to testify to the class about what they know and learned. This video can be found at lds.org. If you are reading the manual online, it is available in a link in the text of this lesson.
Help Others Recognize the Spirit’s Influence
Since our most important goal in teaching is to bring the Holy Ghost into the lesson, helping the members of your class identify when the Holy Ghost is present is very important. Many of us have not been taught at church how to recognize the Holy Ghost. I learned it in a family home evening lesson from my mother when I was about twelve. Ideally, we will be learning how to identify the Spirit, both at home and at church, from an early age.
The reason for learning to identify for ourselves when the Spirit is present is that this teaches us how to recognize personal revelation when we receive it. It also helps us “avoid deception and develop spiritual self-reliance.” Working with the Spirit is all about what we feel. For most people, identifying what they are currently feeling is not something that comes naturally. This is a skill that needs to be taught. Often, just identifying the Spirit when you feel it will help the class members come to recognize the Spirit for themselves. Remember that sometimes the influence of the Spirit will not be an emotion, but an idea or a prompting to do something. This also needs to be taught and identified to help the students learn how the Spirit works with them.
Invite Learners to Act
Learning to feel and identify the Spirit is just the first step. We must follow up with what we felt or were prompted to do with action. Only in this way will the fruits of the Spirit materialize in the lives of our class members.
“The Savior taught in order to change lives.” We will never know that a principle truly comes from God until we have proven that principle through living it. Living the gospel of Christ is what changes people’s lives.
As taught in this section of the lesson, when the class members use their own agency to find ways to apply what they have learned in class, they learn the lesson more permanently. We can invite them to practice or do something at home to learn a principle we have taught, but if we can get them to think about how they can personally apply it in their own life then they become self-learners and self-starters. We are teaching them how to appropriately ask questions and seek for answers. This is very important.
When you teach a principle and send the class home to put it into practice in their own lives, you need to be able to tell them if living that principle has made a difference in your life. This means you will need to have thought about it well in advance of the lesson. Can you identify the blessings you have received? Can you identify how your life is different because of living this principle? We can’t expect them to tell us about these things if we can’t identify them for ourselves.
After an appropriate amount of time, be sure to follow up with your class to see what experiences they may have had with putting a principle into effect in their lives. Often a week is too soon, but you don’t want to wait too long or they will have completely forgotten what you taught them. Sometimes an email to the class will help them remember to try to do what you talked about in class. This is an unobtrusive way to remind them of the lesson and still encourage them to test the promises of God at home.