Church Curriculum: Helping Us Learn and Live the Gospel
January 1986

“Church Curriculum: Helping Us Learn and Live the Gospel,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, 20

Church Curriculum:

Helping Us Learn and Live the Gospel

Learning the gospel of Jesus Christ is much, much more than a weekly classroom activity. It is a lifelong search to know the Lord and to transform our lives in his image.

How, then, can we make the gospel an integral part of our lives? We must pray and serve. We must study the scriptures, which reveal the Lord’s nature and record his teachings. Faithful members of the Church are promised that they may learn the gospel of Jesus Christ “line upon line, precept upon precept.” (D&C 98:12.)

To help individuals and parents study and teach the gospel, the Church provides courses of study and learning aids based on this important principle of growth.

The curriculum of the Church endeavors to teach the gospel in a three-fold approach. The children’s curriculum acquaints the children with the gospel. The youth curriculum reinforces this learning at a deeper level. And the adult curriculum further solidifies a member’s understanding of the scriptures and teachings of the prophets.

All curriculum is geared toward creating a greater love of our Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and in motivating us to exemplify the principles of the gospel in our daily living—especially in our relationships with our fellow men.

The following charts identify the major emphases of Church curriculum for children, youth, and adults. Other resources to help individuals and families are also listed.

Child Curriculum

In Primary, young children learn that they are children of God. They learn about the beautiful world Heavenly Father and Jesus created for them. As they approach baptismal age, children are taught to have faith in Jesus Christ. The principle of repentance and the gift of the Holy Ghost are introduced to help prepare them for baptism. Basic scripture stories and passages from the Savior’s life and from the Book of Mormon are used to illustrate important gospel principles.

Lesson concepts and objectives become broader for children from ages 8 through 11. Children are taught to keep their baptismal covenants by learning about Old Testament and Book of Mormon prophets, pioneer men and women, and latter-day prophets. Boys are helped to prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and girls to join the ranks of the Young Women.

The Primary curriculum systematically acquaints children with the major characters and events from each of the standard works as well as from Church history. Children are taught about and expected to commit to memory the Articles of Faith.

Following are the major emphases in the lessons for each age group.

3–5 years old

Strengthening Relationships with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and Family

  • Heavenly Father

  • Faith in Jesus Christ

  • God’s creations

  • I am a child of God

  • Prayer

  • Reverence

  • Obedience

  • Happiness

  • Family

6–7 years old

Following Jesus and Preparing for Baptism

  • Faith in Jesus Christ

  • Jesus’ life and teachings (Matt.; Mark; Luke; and John)

  • Agency

  • Prayer

  • Obedience

  • Articles of Faith 1, 4 [A of F 1:1, 4]

  • Repentance

  • Baptism

  • Gift of the Holy Ghost

  • Honesty

  • Kindness

  • Sabbath day

  • Joseph Smith

  • Restoration of the Church

  • Book of Mormon stories

  • Word of Wisdom

8–9 years old

Living Baptismal Covenants

  • Agency and accountability

  • Obedience

  • Prayer

  • Holy Ghost

  • Sacrament

  • Following Church leaders

  • Honesty

  • Tithing

  • Word of Wisdom

  • Journals

  • Old Testament stories

  • Early Apostles (Acts)

  • Latter-day prophets

  • Pioneer heroes

  • Articles of Faith 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 [A of F 1:2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10]

10–11 years old

Preparing for Aaronic Priesthood or Young Womanhood

  • Plan of salvation

  • Agency and accountability

  • Prayer

  • Restoration of the Church

  • Priesthood

  • Scriptures—Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Articles of Faith 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 [A of F 1:5, 6, 11, 12, 13]

  • Service

  • Eternal family

  • Virtuous living

  • Missionary work

Youth Curriculum

The curriculum prepared for the youth provides an intensive study of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to the weekly experiences in Sunday School and Young Women and Aaronic Priesthood meetings, the youth are guided through a vigorous, four-year study of the standard works daily in Seminary.

In Sunday School, youth are prepared for Seminary by learning how to use the scripture study tools. They also learn of the lives of latter-day prophets. Courses 15–17 teach the doctrines of salvation and the plan of life.

Young Women and Aaronic Priesthood courses emphasize duties of the priesthood, service, principles of dating and virtue and help prepare youth for missions and temple marriage.

Following are the major emphases in the curriculum for each age group.

12–13 years old

Living as Sons and Daughters of God

  • Loving God and his commandments

  • Major scripture characters

  • Scripture study aids

  • Service

  • Priesthood duties

  • Combating worldly influences

  • Moral cleanliness

  • Word of Wisdom

  • Social skills

14–15 years old

Developing a Testimony

  • Faith in Jesus Christ

  • Plan of salvation

  • Basic gospel doctrines

  • Scriptures

  • Growing spiritually

  • Teachings of latter-day prophets

  • Strengthening one’s family

  • Preparing for dating

16–17 years old

Preparing to Receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and to Enter the Temple

  • Loving the Savior

  • Plan of salvation

  • Developing spiritually

  • Scriptures

  • Priesthood duties

  • Planning for the future

  • Preparing to be a missionary

  • Preparing for temple marriage

  • Physical, social, and emotional health

  • Teaching skills

Adult Curriculum

The scriptures are the basis of all adult teaching in the Church, supplemented by the inspired statements of those we sustain as General Authorities. In the adult curriculum, the standard works are the texts. Although teachers’ supplements and study guides are prepared for use in organizing class instruction, the scriptures are the main source of reading for each adult member.

The standard works are studied on a four-year rotating basis. Each year the Gospel Doctrine course in Sunday School focuses on one of our standard works, presenting the unfolding drama of the scriptures in their historical setting. The priesthood and Relief Society instruction goes into depth on doctrines taught in the scriptures.

Following are the major emphases in the adult curriculum.

Melchizedek Priesthood

  • Gospel doctrines and principles

  • Priesthood service and responsibilities

  • Parenting skills

  • Temple preparation

Relief Society

  • Gospel doctrines and principles

  • Service

  • Parenting skills

  • Human relations

Sunday School

  • Gospel Doctrine: Systematic study of standard works in the following sequence:

  • Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants (1986—Old Testament)

  • Gospel Essentials: Basic gospel principles

  • Family Relations: Husband-wife relationships and parenting skills

  • Member-missionary: Missionary skills

  • Genealogy: Basic research and record keeping

  • Teacher Development: Teaching skills

Family Curriculum

A variety of resources are supplied by the Church to help parents fulfill their scriptural charge to teach their children the basic doctrines of the kingdom (D&C 68:25), to pray and walk uprightly (D&C 68:28), and to love and serve one another (Mosiah 4:15). The objective is to strengthen family love and unity through family prayer, gospel study, and family activities.

Entire Family

  • Standard Works

  • Family Home Evening Resource Book

  • Gospel Principles manual

  • Videotapes and other audiovisual materials

  • Hymns


  • The Friend

  • Scripture storybooks, tapes, filmstrips, and videotapes

  • Old Testament Reader

  • New Testament Reader

  • Book of Mormon Reader

  • Doctrine and Covenants Reader

  • Scripture Stories (book and tape only)

  • Sing with Me

  • Primary courses

  • Walk in His Ways manuals, A and B

  • Audiovisual materials

Young Women

  • The New Era

  • Young Women courses

  • Personal Progress program

  • Young Women Recognition

  • Sunday School courses

  • Seminary courses

  • The Latter-day Saint Woman manuals, A and B

Young Men

  • The New Era

  • Aaronic Priesthood courses

  • Scouting

  • Recognition awards

  • Sunday School courses

  • Seminary courses

  • Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood manuals, A and B


  • The Ensign

  • The Church News

  • Melchizedek Priesthood Personal Study Guide

  • Relief Society Courses of Study

  • Sunday School courses:

  • Gospel Doctrine

  • Gospel Essentials

  • Family Relations

  • Member-missionary

  • Genealogy—From You to Your Ancestors

  • Teacher Development

  • Home Teaching Lessons for New Members

  • Temple Preparation Seminar

  • Church Education classes

  • Pamphlets and tracts on special subjects

  • Leadership materials

  • The Latter-day Saint Woman manuals, A and B

  • Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood manuals, A and B

To order these materials, see the Salt Lake Distribution Center Catalog, 1986, available at your meetinghouse library, or write the Salt Lake Distribution Center, 1999 W. 1700 S., Salt Lake City, Utah, 84104.

Resources for a Growing Church

In areas where Church membership is small but growing, the curriculum of the Church is adapted to suit local needs. For this reason, different phases of instruction have been designed to accommodate the needs of Church units at the various levels of membership growth. Each successive phase includes all materials from previous phases, offering a more comprehensive learning program.

Basic Member Program

Special materials have been prepared for areas of the world where only a very basic Church program is possible. Seven self-contained manuals for developing areas introduce Church members to gospel principles and doctrines, teach the duties of priesthood, offer instruction on the role of women in the Church, and prepare children for lives of service. The materials prepared include:

  • Standard Works

  • 7 Manuals

  • Childrens’ Curriculum—Walk in His Ways, parts A & B

  • Youth and Adult—Gospel Principles

  • Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood—Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, parts A & B

  • Young Women and Relief Society—The Latter-day Saint Woman, parts A & B

  • 4 Scripture Story Books

  • Book of Mormon Reader

  • Doctrine and Covenants Reader

  • Old Testament Reader

  • New Testament Reader

  • Temple Ceremony

Simplified Full Church Program

A simplified, flexible curriculum is available where Church units are small and where, because of small numbers, it would be advantageous for youth and children of different ages to be grouped into fewer classes. The plan offers an option that reduces cost, space, and teacher requirements, yet allows the units to select appropriate materials from the full curriculum plan. To the basic materials are added 13 manuals.

Full Church Program

The curriculum for the full Church program is described on pages 20–23. To the basic materials are added 26 manuals.

Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh