Lesson 8

Use Effective Methods

“Lesson 8: Use Effective Methods: Part 1,” Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching (1999), 222–26


To help class members select teaching methods and use those methods effectively.

Note to the Teacher

The quality of gospel teaching and learning improves as methods are selected carefully and used effectively. Teachers should select methods that (1) help those they teach gain a clear and memorable understanding of gospel doctrines and principles and (2) are appropriate for the content of the lesson and the age-group of those they teach.

In this lesson and lesson 9, class members will learn about the following fundamental teaching methods: using object lessons, making comparisons, using the chalkboard, sharing stories, asking questions, and conducting discussions.


  1. Review the section of this book titled “Use Effective Methods” (pages 88–95). Also review part F, “Methods of Teaching”(pages 157–84).

  2. Bring to class one cup that is clean outside and inside and a similar cup that is clean outside but dirty inside.

  3. Prepare a demonstration in which you use the chalkboard to teach a gospel principle. You may want to use one of the examples on page 162, or you may develop an example on your own.

Suggested Lesson Development

We should use teaching methods that help individuals understand, remember, and apply gospel principles.


Share the following story. Explain that this is an experience that President Boyd K. Packer and his wife had when he was serving as a mission president.

“We scheduled zone conferences. For each one, Sister Packer baked a three-tiered cake, … decorated beautifully—thick, colorful layers of frosting, trimmed beautifully, and with ‘The Gospel’ inscribed across the top. When the missionaries were assembled, with some ceremony we brought the cake in. It was something to behold!

“As we pointed out that the cake represented the gospel, we asked, ‘Who would like to have some?’ There was always a hungry elder who eagerly volunteered. We called him forward and said, ‘We will serve you first.’ I then sank my fingers into the top of the cake and tore out a large piece. I was careful to clench my fist after tearing it out so that the frosting would ooze through my fingers, and then as the elders sat in total disbelief, I threw the piece of cake to the elder, splattering some frosting down the front of his suit. ‘Would anyone else like some cake?’ I inquired. For some reason, there were no takers.

“Then we produced a crystal dish, a silver fork, a linen napkin, and a beautiful silver serving knife. With great dignity I carefully cut a slice of the cake from the other side, gently set it on the crystal dish, and asked, ‘Would anyone like a piece of cake?’

“The lesson was obvious. It was the same cake in both cases, the same flavor, the same nourishment. The manner of serving either made it inviting, even enticing, or uninviting, even revolting. The cake, we reminded the missionaries, represented the gospel. How were they serving it?

“After the demonstration we had no difficulty—in fact, some considerable enthusiasm—for the effort to improve the teaching of the discussions. A few months later I thought the missionaries might well be reminded of the lesson, so I sent out a bulletin with a sketch of the cake.

“When I met the missionaries again, I said, ‘You received a bulletin recently, didn’t you?’

“‘Yes indeed.’

“‘And what did it say?’

“Invariably the missionaries said, ‘It reminded us to sharpen up on presenting our lessons and to do more studying, to learn the lessons carefully, and then to help one another in our procedure for having them taught.’

“‘You got all that out of a picture?’

“‘Yes, that’s one lesson we won’t soon forget!’

“I should, of course, add that I was very happy where necessary to pay the bill to clean the elder’s suit!” (Teach Ye Diligently, rev. ed. [1991], 270–71).

Note: If you desire to model President Packer’s object lesson yourself, you might consider serving the cake by grabbing a piece of it with your hand and squeezing it onto a plate rather than throwing it on a class member.


  • What can we learn from this story about how we should present the gospel?

  • What evidence is there that President Packer’s lesson was effective?

Emphasize that the missionaries in President Packer’s mission understood the lesson, remembered it, and applied it in their lives. It is not enough to help those we teach to simply understand gospel principles. We also need to help them remember them and apply them.

Have class members turn to page 158 in this book. Explain that this page contains a list of methods that can be used to teach the gospel. Today’s lesson and next week’s lesson will include demonstrations of a few of the methods in the list. Emphasize that we should select methods that lift those we teach and that do not detract from the principles we teach.

Using object lessons

Demonstration and Discussion

Point out that in the story you have shared, President Packer used an object lesson to remind missionaries to teach effectively. We can use object lessons to teach a variety of gospel principles.

Display two cups—one that is clean outside and inside and one that is clean outside but dirty inside. Then ask the following question:

  • Which of these two cups would you rather drink from?

Explain that Jesus once compared a group of people to a cup that is clean outside but dirty inside. Invite a class member to read Matthew 23:25–26.

  • What gospel principle does this object lesson teach? (It is not enough to simply appear righteous; we need to be righteous and clean in our hearts.) What do you feel is particularly effective about this object lesson?

Teacher Presentation

Point out that pages 163–64 in this book provide material that can help teachers develop effective object lessons. Invite class members to turn to page 164. Review the suggestions for developing and using object lessons. Then share any additional suggestions you may have on using object lessons.

Making comparisons


Point out that object lessons are effective because they relate spiritual principles to familiar, physical objects. We can also achieve this by making simple comparisons.

Have different class members read the following comparisons (additional comparisons are found on pages 163–64 of this book):

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:

“Faith is like the muscle of my arm. If I use it, if I nurture it, it grows strong; it will do many things. But if I put it in a sling, and do nothing with it, it will grow weak and useless” (in Church News, 6 June 1998, 2).

Elder Russell M. Nelson said:

“The verb to inoculate … literally means ‘to put an eye within’—to monitor against harm.

“An affliction like polio can cripple or destroy the body. An affliction like sin can cripple or destroy the spirit. The ravages of polio can now be prevented by immunization, but the ravages of sin require other means of prevention. Doctors cannot immunize against iniquity. Spiritual protection comes only from the Lord—and in his own way. Jesus chooses not to inoculate, but to indoctrinate” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 41–42; or Ensign, May 1995, 32).

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said:

“Giant oak trees … have deep root systems that can extend two-and-one-half times their height. Such trees rarely are blown down regardless of how violent the storms may be.

“Faithful members of the Church should be like oak trees and should extend deep roots into the fertile soil of the fundamental principles of the gospel” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 98; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 75).

Scripture Discussion

Invite a class member to read Matthew 13:44.

  • What can we learn from this comparison?

Teacher Presentation

Emphasize that comparisons are effective only when we refer to things that are familiar to those we teach. Point out that pages 163–64 in this book provide material that can help teachers develop effective comparisons.

Using the chalkboard


Explain that the chalkboard can be used effectively to emphasize key ideas, focus class members’ attention, and simplify complicated concepts. Tell class members that you will demonstrate how to use the chalkboard. Then do the demonstration that you have prepared (see “Preparation,” item 3).


Ask class members the following questions:

  • What did you learn from this demonstration? How did the use of the chalkboard help you learn these things?

  • From this demonstration, what did you learn about how we should use the chalkboard as a teaching tool?

If class members do not mention the following suggestions, mention them yourself:

  1. Write clearly and large enough for all to see. It is usually more effective to write a few key words rather than complete sentences.

  2. Talk while you write. This will help you keep the attention of the class members.

  3. Avoid spending long periods of time at the chalkboard.

  4. Plan ahead. Practice drawing any figures, maps, or diagrams you plan to use.

  5. Do not apologize for your handwriting or lack of artistic ability.

  6. Use simple stick figures and shapes to illustrate stories or concepts.

  7. Occasionally allow class members to write on the chalkboard. This can help increase participation.

Point out that class members can find additional suggestions on pages 162–63 of this book.

As we prepare to teach, we can choose from a variety of teaching methods.

Teacher Presentation

Point out that a variety of methods can enhance and enliven gospel teaching and learning. However, we should not use different methods solely for the sake of variety. We should select methods that (1) help those we teach gain a clear and memorable understanding of gospel doctrines and principles and (2) are appropriate for the content of the lesson and the age-group of those we teach.


Ask a class member to share a specific doctrine or principle from a lesson that he or she is preparing to teach. Then have class members turn to page 158 and review the list of methods. Invite them to suggest methods that might be used to effectively teach that doctrine or principle. As class members suggest particular methods, ask them to explain why they have suggested those methods.



Have a class member read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“When we teach moral and spiritual values, we are teaching things that are intangible. Perhaps no teaching is so difficult to accomplish, nor so rewarding when successfully done. There are techniques to employ and tools to use. There are things that teachers can do to prepare themselves and their lessons so that their students … can be taught, and their testimonies can be conveyed from one to another” (Teach Ye Diligently, 62).

Emphasize that methods are important but that they should not be the focus of the lessons we teach. They are tools to help those we teach focus on the saving doctrines of the gospel and apply them in their lives.


Bear testimony as prompted by the Spirit.


Encourage class members to:

  1. Consider methods they might use to teach gospel principles more effectively.

  2. Write in their notebooks about their experiences with selecting and using different teaching methods.

  3. Review the section of this book titled “Use Effective Methods”(pages 88–95). Also review part F, “Methods of Teaching”(pages 157–84).