Editor’s note: This article was updated in February 2022 to reflect updates to the General Handbook.
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 weekends 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
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 the General Handbook:
Visual aids and audiovisual materials should not be used in sacrament meetings.
Members should not use audiovisual materials in sacrament meeting or in the general session of stake conference.
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.
► You may also like: 9 Hilarious Stages of Giving a Talk at Church
2. Requiring Overly Formal Actions from Those Passing the Sacrament
Passing the sacrament is the most important part of sacrament meeting, so young men should be respectful and reverent as they do so. In an effort to encourage reverent behavior, some leaders direct that young men hold their hands behind their backs or consistently face forward. Although the handbook directs that “those who administer the sacrament should do so in a dignified manner,” it goes on to state:
The passing of the sacrament should be natural and not overly formal. For example, certain actions (such as holding the left hand behind the back) or appearances (such as dressing alike) should not be required.
3. Taking Pictures or Videos
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 the General Handbook instructs:
Sacrament meetings are sacred. For this reason, photographing or recording sacrament meetings is not allowed.
Few places still exist in the world where Instagram and Facebook don’t get to go. And that’s not so bad. Putting our phones away helps make the chapel a sacred place and allows us to forget about the world outside for a while.
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 making our next sacrament meeting experience better for ourselves and our fellow worshippers.