Monday, December 24, 2018

2019 Come Follow Me Sunday School Intro

2019 Come Follow Me Sunday School Intro

By now, each of you should have received your Come Follow Me (CFM) for Families and Individuals. This will be the main study guide for members to prepare for the Sunday School classes.

Study for Chapter One begins next Monday, Dec 31! So now is the time to consider the preparation suggestions given in the manual.

Under the Introductory materials, it first establishes the key purpose for the new program. "Conversion is our Goal." While the in-depth research of scripture, history, science, and other fields are very important, none are as important as the things we can do to be fully and truly converted to Jesus Christ and his Restored Gospel and Church.

This is especially true in the current era we are entering. The American (and much of the world) view of things is increasingly pessimistic, doubting, and narcissistic. People are doubting the existence of God and Christ. People question the Restoration. For our children, it is a time of decision, as they must choose this day whether they will follow God or the gods of the world. More and more, we are losing many members of the Church to worldly issues that oppose prophetic teachings.

Worse, many of our traditions that are not actually doctrine, or may be symbolic teachings that may not be historic, are leading our children astray, because we insist on everything being literal. For example, the Creation story in Genesis 1 is based on ancient tradition of a flat earth created in 6-24 hour periods. If we insist on such a reading, then our children must decide what to believe, based on false assumptions. First, if one insists on a 6000 year old earth, then one must also accept the rest of the Creation's explanation are literal: a flat earth, surrounded by waters, with pillars that support a heavenly dome in which the Sun, moon and stars are set at the same distance from the earth.

We cannot save ourselves and our children anymore through mild efforts to know the gospel. And yet, WE are responsible for learning the gospel, not our Sunday School teacher. Sunday School teachers are a mixed bag, anyway. Some may be lucky enough to have Ben Spackman or Daniel Peterson as their teacher. Most, however, have someone who is as scripturally illiterate as the rest of the members sitting in the classroom.

Fortunately, there are many resources for actually learning to understand scripture, including this FB board, Mormon Interpreter, FairMormon, and several other free offerings. I posted several years ago on the old New Testament Sunday School lessons, and will provide links to some of those lessons as needed, as well.

The CFM manual offers some great suggestions to increase our scriptural knowledge, spiritual insight, and conversion. Here are the 11 suggestions, with my comments.

1. Look for Truths about Jesus Christ.
How can we follow Jesus, if we do not know him? The more we know, the better we can emulate him.

2. Look for Inspiring Words and Phrases.
Occasionally, we all need some inspiration.

3. Look for Gospel Truths.
In looking for gospel truths, I find more and more. Did you know that many of the great truths, covenants, and teachings of the endowment are found in the Book of Mormon, the Book of Revelation, and elsewhere?

4. Listen to the Spirit.
We've been promised the Constant Companionship of the Holy Ghost. But have we received him, as we were commanded to do at confirmation? How constant do we have him with us? Conversion requires that we learn to listen and recognize the Spirit's voice.

5. Liken the Scriptures to Your Life.
What good are the scriptures, if we cannot apply them in our own lives? They then are no better than a cheap romance novel that keeps our interest for a moment, and then are of no more use to us.

6. Ask Questions as You Study.
This is very important, otherwise you won't learn from the scriptures, how to liken them to your life, or learn new truths from them. Ask tough questions and then search for them. If you need help on this, perhaps the best books available with deep questions ready for your use are from James E. Faulconer, New Testament Made Harder -  (he has books for each of the 4 scriptures).

7. Use Scripture Study Helps.
One great study help is the LDS site: Feast Upon the Word, which has links to posts on the previous Sunday School lessons by several scholars (and me here at Joel's Monastery).

8. Record Your Thoughts and Feelings.
Perhaps one of the best ways to learn to listen to the Spirit is by stopping on occasion and recording the impressions the Spirit gives you as you pray, study scriptures, ponder, etc. You will find the CFM manual and other newer Church manuals have spots for you to stop, ponder, and write down your impressions. A new and popular thing is to have a personal or family study journal. It is like your daily journal, except this one is only for writing down spiritual impressions as you ponder.

I discuss this in more detail on my blog from a Sacrament talk I recently gave on the Holy Ghost.

9. Study the Words of Latter-day Prophets and Apostles.
This one may anger some of those who oppose our modern prophets and their teachings, but it is excellent advice. They can give us a modern prophetic view of our ancient scriptures and beliefs. We are a Church of continuing revelation, which means that modern revelation will move us forward, erasing past mistakes, and refining and expanding previous knowledge and understanding.

10. Share Insights.
I find that as I ponder the gospel, and then share it with others (family, friends, here on FB, etc), it increases my faith and conversion, as well as forces me to think and ponder that much harder on these things. I want to share quality ideas, which means I must learn to consider the things I learn from all sides. What I believe today is often very different from what I believed and understood when I joined the Church 43 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Why? Because God is expanding my understanding continually. Sharing with others allows them to share their thoughts back, and often I gain greater insight from seeing things from their point of view.

11. Live by What You Learn.
"Scripture study should not only inspire us—it should lead us to change the way we live. Listen to what the Spirit prompts you to do as you read, and then commit to act on those promptings."

So, buy yourself a study journal, read the introductory material, and get ready to share your spiritual insights that you gain from Come Follow Me and the New Testament in 2019!

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