What Are We Learning in Church This Year?

“What Are We Learning in Church This Year?” Ensign, Jan. 1990, 54

What Are We Learning in Church This Year?

How to turn conference talks into Sunday lessons.

My wife, Marilyn, and I had been married not quite a year when President David O. McKay said in general conference, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” (In Conference Report, April 1964, p. 5.)

Like most idealistic young Latter-day Saint parents-to-be, we were impressed with that comment and felt hopeful that we could rear our children properly. Eight children later, we look back and realize that we didn’t know enough to be scared. Since then, we’ve learned that parenthood takes ingenuity, inspiration, and work.

One effective thing my wife and I have done to try to fulfill this responsibility has been to establish a tradition of daily scripture reading in our home. Such study can have immediate and profound results. When Steven, our oldest, was eight years old, we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and began what for an eight-year-old was quite a task—to read the entire Book of Mormon. A couple of months after we began, something happened that pleased us immensely. While Marilyn and I were attending a parent-teacher conference at his school, Steven’s reading teacher told us that during the past few weeks Steven’s reading ability had increased three reading levels!

Our Book of Mormon reading program had already paid one dividend. But more important dividends came as he grew to enjoy reading the scriptures.

Children’s reading lessons should begin very early. Even if a child is only ten months old, he can sit on Dad’s lap and look at the pictures in a book and feel his father’s love. That is the key ingredient when teaching our children the gospel. As President Joseph F. Smith said, “If you can only convince your children that you love them, that your soul goes out to them for their good, that you are their truest friend, they, in turn, will place confidence in you and will love you and seek to do your bidding.” (In Conference Report, April 1902, p. 98.)

The Church is here to help us as parents to teach our children the gospel. Through the curricula of the Primary, Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women, Sunday School, and seminary and institute programs, the Church provides systematic instruction in the scriptures and the plan of salvation. The chart that follows outlines this program. It identifies what our children are learning so we can encourage them to take full advantage of their classwork. It can also serve as a guide to many inspirational gospel discussions.

What Our Children Are Learning in Church



Objective or Main Ideas Taught

Overall Objective:

To assist parents in teaching their children the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping them live it.*

18 months to 3 years

To learn that we have a Heavenly Father and that church can be a happy place.


To learn that Heavenly Father and Jesus love us and provide for our needs.

4- and 5-year-olds
(Star A, B)

To learn that Heavenly Father and Jesus love us and planned for us to come to earth.


To grow in love of Heavenly Father and Jesus and learn to follow their teachings. Scripture emphasis: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament.


To look forward to being baptized and becoming a member of the Church. Scripture emphasis: Book of Mormon.

(Valiant A)

To learn valiance in keeping baptismal covenants. We can feel the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus and the power of the Holy Ghost. Scripture emphasis: Old Testament.

(Valiant B)

To learn from the lives of valiant Latter-day heroes in Church history to be true to baptismal covenants.

(Blazer A, Merrie Miss A)

To learn from Church history to honor the priesthood and to grow in character by living gospel principles. Scripture emphasis: Doctrine and Covenants.

(Merrie Miss B, Blazer B: Sunday School Course 11)

To feel an increased desire to live gospel teachings; girls prepare for young womanhood, boys prepare to receive the priesthood. Scripture emphasis: Book of Mormon.

Sunday School


Objective or Main Ideas Taught

Overall Objective:

To help members exercise greater faith in Jesus Christ and gain increased commitment to his doctrines.

(Course 12)

To become better acquainted with the major teachings and people of the Old and New Testaments, and to learn to use the study helps in the Bible.

(Course 13)

To become better acquainted with the major teachings and people in the Pearl of Great Price, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. (Courses 12 and 13 help prepare students for seminary.)

(Course 14)

To learn modern lessons from the lives of our Latter-day prophets.

(Course 15)

To learn about the plan of salvation, the purpose for earth life, and what we must do to live eternally with Heavenly Father.

(Course 16)

To understand the steps of our eternal journey by studying the significant doctrines, principles, and ordinances of the plan of salvation.

(Course 17)

To develop spirituality by making wise choices, preparing for temple marriage and married life, and maintaining gospel values.

Aaronic Priesthood

Overall Objective:

To help young men come unto Christ.


To help young men come unto Christ. To learn the value of coming unto Christ through conversion to the gospel, magnification of priesthood callings, meaningful service, preparation to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, commitment to serve a full-time mission, personal worthiness to receive temple covenants, and preparation to become a worthy husband and father.

Young Women

Overall Objective:

To help young women grow spiritually, prepare to receive the ordinances of the temple, and progress toward exaltation by keeping sacred covenants and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.


To learn to live as daughters of God, to fulfill women’s divine roles, to contribute to family life, to appreciate the priesthood, to prepare for temple ordinances, to be a missionary, to develop personal spirituality, to live a virtuous life, to maintain physical health, to develop socially and emotionally, to manage personal resources, and to develop leadership skills.


Doctrine and Covenants/Church History:

To study sequentially the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants in their historical settings.

Book of Mormon:

To study sequentially the Book of Mormon, emphasizing its pertinence for our day and its witness of Jesus Christ.

What Adults Are Learning

Relief Society

Overall Objective:

To exercise greater faith in Christ, drawing with our families closer to him and striving to accomplish the threefold mission of the Church.


Through studying Remember Me: Relief Society Study Guide 1, focus on compassionate service in family, church, and community and on spiritual and temporal welfare, including self-reliance and care of the needy as these principles are taught in the Old Testament.

Melchizedek Priesthood

Overall Objective:

To engage in personal scriptural study that will increase faith and righteousness and engender a greater love for Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

Quorum Training:

To study significant principles from the Old Testament through Lay Hold upon the Word of God: Melchizedek Priesthood Personal Study Guide 1.

Sunday School

Overall Objective:

To exercise greater faith in Jesus Christ and increase commitment to his doctrines.

Gospel Doctrine

To learn how the Old Testament can strengthen our testimonies of Jesus Christ, motivate us to repent, and inspire us to obey.

Family Relations
(Twelve-lesson course)

To learn how to improve family relationships, including how to teach children about intimacy and the importance of families.

Gospel Essentials
(Twelve-lesson course)

To learn basic gospel principles and make a smooth transition into regular Church activity (primarily for investigators, new converts, and reactivated members).

Teacher Development
(Twelve-lesson course)

To learn fundamental teaching skills that may be used in families and Church work.

Family History
(Four-lesson course)

To learn how to provide temple ordinances for our ancestors.

Bringing the Prophets to Relief Society

Beginning in 1990, Relief Society presidencies will select several talks from the most recently available conference reports for teachers to present as Relief Society lessons during the year. If you are assigned to prepare one of these lessons, you may find the following steps helpful:

  1. Prayerfully decide what the main idea of the talk is. Outline two or three supporting ideas that contribute to the main idea.

  2. Decide what you want to accomplish with the lesson. For example, do you want to help sisters understand a principle? Develop an attitude? Change a behavior?

  3. Gather your materials. Use the Topical Guide in the LDS edition of the King James Bible or the Index in the triple combination to find additional scripture references. You may also use articles from the Ensign, past Relief Society personal study guides, Gospel Principles, and The Latter-day Saint Woman, parts A and B.

  4. Refer to the chart on p. xi of the most recent Relief Society personal study guide for ideas on how to organize your lesson presentation.

  5. Assign sisters to participate in your lesson, and use teaching methods that will involve the class.

Preparing such a lesson can be challenging, but if you rely on the inspiration of the Spirit, you will understand what to teach the sisters of your ward. As class members share in that Spirit, they will know how to apply the counsel of the prophets to meet their needs and circumstances.

Illustrated by Phyllis Luch