We can all agree that studying general conference messages after the broadcast ends is important, so how can we make it happen? We talked with Tammy Uzelac Hall, host of the Sunday on Monday podcast, and Kristen Walker Smith, author of One Minute Scripture Study in the New Testament, about fun ways to study general conference as well as tips for your regular scripture study schedule.
Start with What’s on Your Heart
There are plenty of ways to tackle all the amazing conference talks once they’re available. But a good way to start is with what matters most to you. Tammy recommends, “100 percent you want to start with the topical index. It’s at the beginning of every single conference magazine. Go through the topical index and read through every single one of the topics that are covered in general conference and find one that stands out to you, and that’s where you start.”
Follow the Prophet
Or if nothing jumps out at you, Kristen counsels you, “Start with the prophet!” Try reading through the prophet’s talk from conference and highlight the phrases “I ask you to,” “I invite you,” and “I plead with you.” Make a list of all the invitations the prophet gave, write down some goals to act on them, and write down President Nelson’s promised blessings. This concrete list of actions and their connected blessings can inspire us and motivate us to grow.
See the Same Topic with New Optics
Once you do choose a topic, it’s time to better understand it. Here is how you could approach it: Begin by reading the talks from this conference that cover your topic and highlighting what stands out to you (this could be in a paper copy, like in the general conference addresses journal editions, or in your digital scriptures).
Then go to the Topical Guide (found in Study Helps in the Gospel Library App), find your topic, and read all the scriptures listed. Next, look up your topic in the Bible Dictionary and read the definition. Finally, go back to the talks you started with and read them again. Tammy recommends, “I like to use different highlighters (one for the first time I read through and then a different color for the second time) to see what else I've learned. Or what stands out to me with a better understanding or knowledge of that topic.”
Glean While You Clean
You don’t have to sit down at a table for 30 minutes in order to study general conference. Why not use audio recordings to your advantage? “You can spiritually come alive while you drive. You can enjoy a talk while you walk. You can glean while you clean,” Tammy says. As you use your travel time as study time, you’ll find it’s easy to study every day. When you are done driving, consider writing a quick note on your phone to gather your thoughts about what you heard.
Share Your Thoughts Through Video
Popular apps social media apps make it easy to take quick videos and send them to friends. But this functionality can be used to facilitate scripture study too! Get a group together on one of these platforms and commit that everyone will study a talk together every week. Members of the group can read the talk individually and then share a short video message with their thoughts, bouncing ideas off each other as members respond or post their own experiences.
A Plug for Podcasts
Tammy suggests podcasts as another fun way to study the words of prophets through conference talks. The Magnify podcast in particular will be diving deep into conference by discussing a different talk every week. On their social media pages, they highlight elements of that week’s conference talk and their discussion about it. You can even get involved in the conversation by commenting on their page whenever you’d like. This way you can be involved with a community of other gospel learners without having to coordinate schedules.
► You may also like: Season 2 of Magnify is here!
Quotes with cute artsy backgrounds and conference memes tend to flood social media following general conference, so why not get in on the fun? Find a quote that really touched you and use whatever creative skills you have to make it into something you can put on your wall. You could paint, draw, scrapbook, engrave, make a meme, sew, knit, or do any number of crafts to make that quote into a piece of art to remind you about conference all year long. You could even share your art on social media so others can enjoy that nugget of truth that inspired you.
Give a Home Evening Report
You could get your friends or family involved by inviting them to a conference recap for home evening. Assign each person a talk and have them prepare to give a brief report on it. They could make a simple PowerPoint with quotes from the talk, they could share a personal story that relates to the talk, could summarize the message, or even give a pop quiz as a fun way to review the main points of a talk.
Scatter Conference Cards Around the House
Kristen suggests taking advantage of the summaries provided by Church News. They create a free PDF file with short summaries of each talk that you can print and glue onto a 3x5 card. Or you could write a quote from each talk on a card. Then you can put these cards all around your house and when you, or someone in your family, finds one you can stop what you are doing to read the card before moving it somewhere else. This way you can “continuously ‘study’ conference and make it part of my everyday life without adding extra study time,” Kristen says.
Why Study Conference?
For her podcast, Sunday on Monday, Tammy dives deep into the scriptures to help others get the most out of their Come, Follow Me study. Even though Sunday on Monday focuses on the scriptures, Tammy says, “I use a conference talk in almost every podcast episode… There’s always something that really stands out to me.” With the blessing of having conference bi-annually, we can sometimes forget just how profound it is to receive counsel from living prophets and apostles. “Their words are not general, they are exceptional,” says Tammy.
Kristen pointed out a quote from last conference by Elder Allen D. Haynie, “unlike vintage comic books and classic cars, prophetic teachings do not become more valuable with age.” We have a living prophet in our midst who can give us revelation for the unique circumstances of living right now. “The words of Nephi, Moses, and Joseph Smith are priceless, but Russell M. Nelson is the prophet of OUR day. Which means we absolutely need to be studying his words (and those of our apostles),” Kristen says, “We need to take general conference study off our ‘to do’ lists and move it to the ‘want to do’ list.” Listening to the living prophet by studying his words at general conference will protect and strengthen us, so we will be ready to joyfully face whatever challenges may be around the corner.
► You may also like: 5 suggestions to enhance your family’s scripture study