The Latter-day Saint social media world was rocked during the Saturday morning session of general conference when Elder Quentin L. Cook announced that weekly church meetings will now be two hours to help members and families focus on home gospel study.
With this announcement came much excitement and many questions. Here are just a few important things we need to know about these new changes:
1. The purpose of this change is to build faith, strengthen families, and increase personal conviction.
I feel like some on social media might be missing the heart of this inspired change. We should be celebrating this change not because of changed church times but because of the wonderful opportunities it will provide. Brian J. Hansbrow, a curriculum developer for the Church, shared about church curriculum, “(Research has) found that scripture study in the home—personal religious devotion—had a greater impact on conversion than anything else." No doubt this change allows us to focus on taking more responsibility for our discipleship and building faith where it matters most. As Elder Cook said, these changes will allow us to focus on:
Deepening conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening faith in Them.
Strengthening individuals and families through home-centered, Church-supported curriculum that contributes to joyful gospel living.
Honoring the Sabbath day, with a focus on the ordinance of the sacrament.
Helping all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil through missionary work and receiving ordinances and covenants and blessings of the temple.
"We are each responsible for our individual spiritual growth," President Nelson said. "And scriptures make it clear that parents have the primary responsibility to teach the doctrine to their children. It is the responsibility of the Church to assist each member in the divinely appointed role of increasing his or her gospel knowledge."
2. We'll still have Sunday School, Relief Society, Priesthood, Primary, and Young Women meetings.
This change is not taking anything away. It is adding a beautiful component to our personal faith and study, allowing us to focus on living the gospel and incorporating it into our day-to-day lives.
“As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of ‘church’ as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home,” President Nelson said. “We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for home-centered church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.”
He continued: "The long-standing objective of the Church is to assist all members to increase their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His Atonement, to assist them in making and keeping their covenants with God and to strengthen and seal their families. In this complex world today, this is not easy. The adversary is increasing his attack on faith and on families at an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need counter-strategies and pro-active plans."
3. Our weekly schedules will change.
Elder Cook clarified, “The Sunday Church meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament meeting each Sunday, focused on the Savior, the ordinance of the sacrament, and spiritual messages. After time for transition to classes, Church members will attend a 50-minute class that will alternate each Sunday. Sunday School will be held on the first and third Sundays. Priesthood quorums, Relief Society, and Young Women meetings will be held on the second and fourth Sundays. Meetings on the fifth Sunday will be under the direction of the bishop. Primary will be held each week during this same 50-minute period and will include singing time and classes.”
4. A new curriculum will be implemented in January 2019.
The new curriculum that we will use beginning in 2019 will switch from a focus of teaching at church to a focus of teaching the gospel in the home.
“We know the spiritual impact and the deep and lasting conversion that can be achieved in the home setting,” said Elder Cook. “Our purpose is to balance the Church and the home experience in a way that will greatly increase faith, spirituality and deepen conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Beginning in December, a new resource will be available to families: Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families.
5. Primary and other curriculums will be integrated with other classes like never before.
President Nelson said that Church leaders have been working for many years "on an integrated curriculum to strengthen families and individuals through a home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith and foster greater personal worship."
This new "integrated curriculum" will enhance family gospel study as children, youth, and adults all study the New Testament in their separate classes and in the home. This "harmonized curriculum” will inspire conversations and will coordinate with the new home-centered resource Come, Follow Me For Individuals and Families. What an incredible way to include all members of the Church, no matter the age, in larger conversations where we can all learn and grow together.
6. This change is inspired.
"I testify to you that in the deliberations of the council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the temple and after our beloved prophet petitioned the Lord for revelation to move forward with these adjustments, a powerful confirmation was received by all," Elder Cook said. We, too, can receive such a confirmation as we act on the words of our prophet and apostles to incorporate these changes into our lives and receive the blessings that will follow.