Monday, April 27, 2009

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 15: What Worked?

Did you teach Gospel Doctrine Lesson 15 last week? How did it go? I thought it was kind of a hard lesson to engage the class in.

Take a minute and share here what you tried that was particularly effective (or not). What topics generated good discussion? What materials (from the manual or supplemental) did you use? Give us your feedback


  1. Yep, it was a tough one, but my wife tells me it was one of the more spiritual discussions in the class. This was one that I played by the book, due merely to the fact that I didn't have hardly any outside material to go on.

    What I thought worked best was sticking to Section 46 pretty tightly. We analyzed verse 2 in depth, and talked about the importance of letting the Spirit dictate the meetings "notwithstanding those things which are written."

    And that set a really interesting tone for a discussion of spiritual gifts, given that Church may not be the most important place we should be during that time on Sunday.

  2. I used a lot from the book Infinite Atonement. In book Millet says that spiritual gifts are pieces of godhood that we have recieved. we talked about different gifts and how we can use them to bless others and ourselves, and as a result be given other gifts. We discussed the process of how to obtain other gifts. And how once we aqcuire all of these pieces of godhood, we become perfect or complete. my class loved it and usually my class is pretty bad.

  3. Easton: I had not focused on the phrase, "Notwithstanding this things which are written." That is very interesting counsel given to those conducting meetings. In our day of Correlation and the CHI, we stick pretty close to "that which is written." Interesting to think about.

    Jenny and Brett: I am not familiar with that book, but I like the idea. I would be interested to hear more about your discussion.

  4. I did a historical recap of what it may have been like to have been a convert in Kirtland in the early months of 1831, and the zeal and enthusiasm they must have felt: God is speaking to man again, and virtually every time you hear anything there is new revelation, or a new story about a healing or prophecy or whatever. But on the other hand, the converts had no way to check or measure their zeal: if they had read the Book of Mormon, it likely was only once; none had ever sat through a Sacrament meeting; there were no bishops or stake presidents or apostles; none of them were returned missionaries, unless you count the couple of weeks of someone who had gone to teach his own family; they had no printed revelations yet -- in short, nothing to guide them but their excitement and what they thought they knew from old religious traditions.

    I had several class members read short descriptions of some of the more bizarre things going on. Then I said that it was easy for us to recognize that these things were out of hand, but maybe not so easy to recognize places where we are vulnerable today when other church members claim to act by the spirit, but whose claims are equally false, destructive and deceptive, and asked for examples. First up was investment scams, followed by other improbable business schemes, unsupportable claims for nutritional supplements that prey upon our respect for the Word of Wisdom, products peddled out of fear for "end times," the ol' "I had a revelation that you're supposed to marry me" thing, and several others. Because we have an international ward, a couple of ideas were offered about conditions elsewhere that I hadn't thought of (a local leader teaching false doctrine, not deliberately, but because of his newness in the church, for example).

    Then we began to go through selected verses of Sec. 46, stressing that these were, in part, gifts that the Lord had given in order to help the Saints of 1831 -- and 2009 -- discern between true manifestations of the Spirit and deceptive ones. I had asked a class member to read verses 13-26, one verse at a time, and waiting for me to nod my head to go on to the next one -- that gave us as much or as little time to discuss the gifts as we needed, but kept the class running smoothly because the reader picked up on cue rather than making me call on someone to continue reading.

    One elderly man asked how he could find his own gift, so I interrupted the rhythm of the lesson to ask for class input. After the predictable suggestions, another old man stood and said he had known the first man for many, many years and started telling him about the first man's gifts that he had noticed over the years. That went really well, and I think helped the man who hadn't ever asked himself before what his gifts were.

    I pulled out the line from one first that says gifts are given "that all may be profited thereby," so some of what we talked about was how such-and-such a gift could profit those who didn't possess it, and how, if you did possess it, you could offer it for the profit of others. We had a rather dramatic testimony offered by another very old man (my class is evenly split between 20-somethings and 70-80-90-year-olds) about the gift of tongues; in the hall afterward, a young man wanted to share his own experience with tongues.

    This was another lesson that drew a lot of participation from class members. We could have used another 15 or 20 minutes, I think. There were quite a number of testimonies, and references to gifts held by people in the room, and reminders of times when those gifts had been put into use for the benefit of the ward.

    I closed with a reminder that if a gift is of God, it will be edifying and cause us to rejoice. It will lead us to do good, to love and serve God, and to believe in christ. If a spiritual manifestation (or one claimed by someone) does not edify, or if it leads us to sin, it is not of God.

    One of the more interesting lessons, I think.

    (I love your idea of letting us report on how lessons went. Thanks!)

  5. Ardis: Thanks for the input. I really like the Kirtland period lead-in. It is interesting to think about how one would judge what was "right" and what was not quite right at that early stage of the Restoration. I was curious: Where did you get your infromation about Kirtland religious practices?

  6. By the way: The idea for the "What Worked" post goes to our friend and commenter, Easton.


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