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How does the Sunday School General Presidency study ‘Come, Follow Me’? The simplicity may inspire you

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A few weeks ago, I sat down with the Sunday School General Presidency and asked how they personally study the scriptures with each week’s Come, Follow Me lesson. I found their answers insightful and wonderfully simple. I think you will too.

Something President Mark L. Pace said early on in our conversation set a beautiful tone for the discussion:

“You have to do it for yourself. You have to gain your own testimony,” President Pace says. “You have to do your own work. As great as a podcast you might [listen to is], the real joy—the real magic—is one person, the scriptures, and the influence of the Holy Ghost. And that’s really what this whole experience is all about.”

He later added, “We can’t say enough positive things about how grateful we are that the Saints are paying attention to the Lord’s word in the scriptures. The blessings that come from that are just wonderful, and we’re thrilled for that.”

With that in mind, here is how each member of the presidency studies the scriptures with Come, Follow Me.

President Mark L. Pace

President Pace has a clear love and gratitude for the scriptures. And he reminded us that the sacred text should be our priority: “Sometimes people say [to me], ‘I don’t have time to read the scriptures, so I just read the [Come, Follow Me] manual.’ I would say, actually, if you don’t have time, just read the scriptures.”

President Pace and his wife study by taking turns reading aloud five verses each until they reach the end of a chapter. Then, they go back and summarize in their own words each of the five-verse scripture blocks, President Pace summarizing the verses his wife read aloud and vice versa. They also pause to discuss what stands out to them in the verses.

“What we gained on the first read-through is lifted as we go back through the second time,” he says.

After reading, he and his wife kneel down for family prayer. They prefer to pray together soon after scripture study, rather than waiting until right before they go to sleep.

“There’s something wonderful about approaching the Lord in prayer right after I’ve taken the time to read His words,” President Pace says.

After a few days of studying like that, he and his wife will then open the Come, Follow Me manual and discuss the questions provided there. “It’s a delight,” he says.

When President Pace is studying on his own, he likes to write this question across the top of his manual: “What did the Holy Ghost teach me this week as I read 1 Nephi?” (Or whatever the scripture block is for that week.) Then he writes down thoughts and impressions in the margins of his manual.

“I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Lord’s chosen apostles and prophets. And as I try to follow what they’re teaching, and follow the Book of Mormon, I know that I’m keeping the Lord’s will—and I find great peace in that,” President Pace says.

▶ You may also like: What is the best thing I can do as a gospel teacher? Sunday School General Presidency’s surprising answer

Brother Milton Camargo

Brother Camargo, President Pace’s first counselor, said his family often takes a similar approach—starting with the scriptures and then moving to the manual near the end of the week. But he also finds starting with the manual to be helpful.

“Sometimes I start with the manual instead of going to the scriptures, especially when it’s kind of hard things for me to understand. Like the Apostle Paul, he uses a kind of logic and reasoning [that can be difficult]. So [I thought], let me go to the manual first. And then [when I understand] I go back to the scriptures,” he says.

He also adds that he loves the questions posed in the manual and finds them to be great discussion starters.

Brother Milton, and other members of the presidency, said that there is no one right way to study the scriptures using Come, Follow Me. In fact, when Elder Quentin L. Cook explained the new program in general conference in 2018, he said, “There is flexibility for each individual and family to determine prayerfully how and when it will be implemented.”

Elder Cook also said that the goal of home-centered church is to “obtain a deep and lasting conversion of adults and the rising generation [to Jesus Christ].” A focus on Jesus Christ is what most excites Brother Milton about reading the Book of Mormon.

“The visit of the Savior [in 3 Nephi] is not someone is talking about Him—He is teaching,” he says. “In the book there are also several great examples of prophets and challenges and trials that they go, … but the number one [thing] for me is that it is another testament of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Brother Jan E. Newman

Brother Jan E. Newman, second counselor in the presidency, takes a different approach to study.

“My wife and I have always been individual studiers; we don’t study together,” he says. “We really have our own kind of studying methodology, and then we come together in the evenings, and I’ll say, ‘What did you learn today in your study?’ … And then we’ll talk about the things that we’ve learned individually.”

For his personal study, Brother Newman says he starts with the scriptures and tries to go slow and “think about the words; think about what’s being talked about.”

“Then I’ll usually go back to the manual when I’m all done with my four or five chapters. Or sometimes I’ll read it ahead of time—one way or other doesn’t really matter to me,” he says. “There was a time when I just kind of skipped [reading] the Come, Follow Me stuff. But I thought to myself, the Lord has provided this to bless the lives of all members of the Church, and the fact that you’re not spending time there is not right.”

Since that impression, Brother Newman has decided that while reading the scriptures is important, there is also value in using the Come, Follow Me manual. He has found great insight added to his study as he incorporates it.

“I’m a big believer of finding out what works for you personally, and your family. And just do that. I always say, if you’ve seen one way of doing Come, Follow Me and reading the scriptures, you’ve seen one way,” he says. “Find something that inspires you, that brings you closer to the Lord, and helps you learn the language of the Spirit.”

▶ You may also like: The ‘Come, Follow Me’ goal I should have set years ago (that you might want to copy)

Book of Mormon 2024 Come, Follow Me Journal Edition

In 2024, home-centered gospel learning will be focused on The Book of Mormon through Come, Follow Me. This journal edition contains all the same information, study guides, and prompts as traditional copies of the manual—with the added bonus of wide, lined margins for taking personal notes! You can now easily record your impressions and experiences as you study.

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