Home teaching is a fundamental part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just like visiting teaching it is a divinely inspired program that fulfills two of the three main missions of the church; perfecting the saints and proclaiming the gospel.
The calling of home teacher should be treated with as much respect as any other call received from the Lord. You are the watchmen over the church. The Lord has called the priesthood to do the following:
“Watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;
“And see that there is no iniquity in the church. …
“And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty” (D&C 20:53–55).
“And visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (D&C 20:51).
So how are you as a home teacher going to fulfill those expectations? Here are some common questions posed by home teachers and a list of things not to do when home teaching.
Q: How long should I stay?
A: There is no rule stated saying how long you are expected to stay. Many factors can determine how much time the family needs with you. Be careful not to overlook needs because you want to stick to a set schedule.
Q: Is an appointment necessary?
A: You should make the effort to schedule appointments whenever possible. This allows the family you are about to visit to prepare to have you in their home. However, if you feel inspired to just stop by to say hi, it is generally a good idea to follow that prompting.
Q: Why do some men bring their wives home teaching?
A: In some situations it is better to have your wife with you instead of another priesthood holder. These include visiting single sisters, widows, and female members who have non-member husbands.
Q: How do I teach the lesson?
A: Each month in the Ensign is a message that has been prayerfully assembled for home teachers by the First Presidency. Read through this lesson a few days before your visit and think about what you can or have learned from the various quotes and scriptures. When you visit your family you should tell them what you gained from the message for the month and read some quotes and scriptures that you feel really helped you understand the message.
Q: The family has little kids that disrupt the lesson, how can I get their attention?
A: Remember that home teaching is for the whole family, not just the parents. If you have a family on your route with little children prepare ahead of time to present the lesson for them. Use puppets, props, coloring pages, treats and so on to get the children involved in the lesson. Many parents will be grateful you took the time to teach the whole family and the children will pay attention more.
Q: I don’t feel close to my family. How can I improve that?
A: A dear friend of mine who is a home teacher told me that all home teaching centers on “BRT”- Building a Relationship of Trust. You must first establish a relationship with your family and prove trustworthy before they will feel receptive to your teachings. You do this by being consistent with your teaching each month and remembering them on special holidays and occasions.
You can also invite your families out for a barbeque, sports, games, and so on. Fins some common ground to build on.
Q: Who do I report to at the end of the month?
A: Report to your district leader or the Elders quorum president. Your quorum president is also the person you talk to if you know a family on your route needs compassionate service or any other important information like a new baby, moving, loss of job, an upcoming marriage and so on.
Q: My partner is a problem, can I go alone?
A: The Lord has set up his church so the gospel will be proclaimed in the mouths of two witnesses. This rule is also in place for your safety. If you and your partner are unable to do in home visits together either because of scheduling conflict, unavailability of babysitters, or you just don’t get along, you should notify your district leader and your Elders Quorum President.
They will work together to prayerfully pair you up with a partner that is a better match. In the meantime you can still contact the families on your list through telephone visits or find someone else to go with you. Just because you can not get out to see them doesn’t mean you can not contact them monthly.
Not to do
1. Do not spend your whole visit trying to convert non-members in the household. Only the spirit can convert people to the gospel, you are there to teach and give them the tools they need to find the gospel when they are ready. Pressuring someone to join the church just causes contention and the spirit will not be with you.
2. Do not ignore the children. Children need to be taught just as much as the parents. Get down on the floor with them and teach the lesson at their level
3. Do not make comments about your family’s spirituality level, personal life, or things you feel they need to improve on. Examples include the following things said to some of my friends by their home teachers:
“So, Mr. Martin, what will it take to get you to join the church?”
“I have done an assessment of your testimony and have decided you are luke-warm Mormons.”
“You shouldn’t have married a non-member.”
4. Do not talk about past relationships, prior engagements, past transgressions or anything else that could cause gossip. If the family you are teaching starts to talk about these things just gently change the subject back to the lesson.
This week's article has been written by Amy Daniels.