Five Elements of the Basic Unit Program

“Five Elements of the Basic Unit Program,” Basic Unit Program Guidebook (2002), 3–6

“And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go … and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them” (Doctrine and Covenants 28:8; see also 33:5–6).

1. Organization


The family is the basic unit of the Church. You will find instructions regarding the family and living the gospel in the home in the Family Guidebook.


When there are two or more families in an area, and at least one of the members is a worthy priest in the Aaronic Priesthood or is a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder, a branch may be organized. The branch may begin simply, with only a branch president who looks after members by visiting their homes and encouraging them in their duties. In these circumstances, the branch holds only a sacrament meeting and a gospel instruction period, using the scriptures and the Gospel Principles manual (31110) or Gospel Fundamentals manual (31129). See Schedule A on page 8.

As the branch grows in membership and in available leadership, an elders quorum should be organized. The branch president may then use other priesthood holders to help watch over members through home teaching. During the Sunday gospel instruction period, a priesthood meeting should be held, as well as a combined meeting for women, young women, and for children. See Schedule A on page 8.

As membership and leadership continue to increase, and where meeting facilities are available, Aaronic Priesthood quorums and the Relief Society, Primary, Young Women, and Sunday School auxiliaries may be organized. Sunday gospel instruction classes are held as shown on Schedules B and C on page 8.

In summary, the program begins with an individual or family. Then a branch is organized. Then as the priesthood strength increases and membership grows, priesthood quorums and then the auxiliaries may be organized.

You can find more detailed instructions for establishing, organizing, and administering the branch in the Branch Guidebook and the Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders’ Guidebook.

2. Meeting Places

Family home evenings, which are explained in the Family Guidebook, are held in members’ homes.

Branch meetings are held in a home, a rented building, or a Church-owned building. The mission presidency can provide information on obtaining and maintaining a meeting place for the branch, as explained in the Branch Guidebook.

3. Curriculum

The Church publishes curriculum materials for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in the home and in Church units. These materials are based on the scriptures and the teachings of the latter-day prophets. They help members learn and live the gospel. They also guide members in their study of the scriptures and the words of the latter-day apostles and prophets.

The first materials that are made available in a language are the Gospel Principles manual (or Gospel Fundamentals manual) and the First Presidency Messages and Visiting Teaching Messages. As the Church continues to grow, the scriptures, other curriculum materials, and Church magazines are made available.

When the branch grows to the point where priesthood and auxiliary classes are held, the following curriculum resources may be used as they become available:

Melchizedek Priesthood and Aaronic Priesthood

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part A

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B

Relief Society and Young Women

The Latter-day Saint Woman, Part A

The Latter-day Saint Woman, Part B


Primary 3: Choose the Right B

Primary 4: Book of Mormon

Sunday School

Gospel Principles (or Gospel Fundamentals)

The scriptures, Family Guidebook, Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders’ Guidebook, Teaching Guidebook, First Presidency Messages, Visiting Teaching Messages, and Hymns and Children’s Songs may be used to supplement the curriculum materials listed above as needed.

The curriculum year begins worldwide on 1 January. Appropriate curriculum materials with instructions are provided when a branch is organized and annually thereafter.

4. Teaching

Gospel instruction in the home and in Church meetings is essential for spiritual growth and for strengthening personal testimony. All members of the Church are teachers, whether as parents, leaders, classroom instructors, or home teachers or visiting teachers.

The home should be the central place where the gospel is taught. The home is supported by the teaching and learning that takes place in Church meetings.

The Lord said: “And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand” (D&C 88:77–78).

In the Teaching Guidebook you can find principles that will help you teach the gospel simply, beautifully, and effectively.

5. Records and Reports

The Lord has commanded the Church to keep records. Four types of records are kept in the branch: financial records, membership records, historical records, and member progress reports.

Record-keeping materials are provided when a branch is organized. Instruction on keeping records and on completing and submitting reports is provided under the direction of the mission president. Those who handle these sacred documents should carefully guard the confidential information in Church records.

You can find more information about Church records and reports in the Branch Guidebook.