“A Conversation about Mutual,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 108
A recent item in the Bulletin, sent to priesthood leaders, gave guidelines for the Mutual program of weekly activities for young men and young women. The Ensign asked Elder Jack H. Goaslind of the Seventy, Young Men general president, and President Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president, for their perspectives on the program.
Ensign: Does this recent announcement represent a new direction, or a reemphasis on weekday activities?
Sister Kapp: It is a reemphasis, but there is really an added emphasis on shared experiences in which young men and young women learn mutual respect and everyone benefits from the activities.
The term Mutual will be familiar to many parents from their youth. Our weeknight activities will be an opportunity to bring back some things that were available in Church youth programs in the past. But we’re not going back to where we were, trying to recapture a social structure that youth once had. We’re going forward to meet the challenges of our day. Mutual is the laboratory or the setting in which we respond to the needs of youth, rather than trying to make them fit the program.
Ensign: Will the program be able to meet the needs of youth throughout the Church?
Elder Goaslind: There’s wide flexibility in the guidelines. We hope priesthood leaders will say, “What’s really best for the young men and young women in our area?” Then we hope they will meet those needs through the weekly activity.
The definition of activity is not just fun and games.
Sister Kapp: Some youth say, “Can’t we just have fun?” But fun is an attitude—not an activity. Often a service project will turn out to be more fun than anything else they’ve done.
Elder Goaslind: The activities should instill in the hearts of young men and young women greater understanding of the principles they’re learning on the Sabbath. The Mutual program is more than just volleyball and basketball, even though those things may be important.
Ensign: If you were Young Men president on a ward level, how would you plan the right kind of activities?
Elder Goaslind: The key would be the bishopric youth committee. We hope the bishops, the presidents of the Young Men and Young Women organizations, and the youth leaders will meet together and unitedly plan activities that will be most meaningful to the youth.
I think the bishop and the presidents of the Young Men and Young Women organizations need listening ears to learn what the youth see as their needs. And I think those leaders also need the sensitivity to listen to the Spirit and be able to direct the youth with its guidance.
Sister Kapp: Maybe the activity isn’t as critical as the opportunity for youth to make decisions. The process may be far more important than the activity in helping the youth grow into leadership—the kinds of things they’ll be doing as adults in the Church. We underestimate the resources of the Church if we’re not using young people as the leaders they’re capable of being.
Elder Goaslind: They’re great leaders. If we doubt the leadership of these young people, we’re kidding ourselves.
As Young Men and Young Women presidencies, we love the youth, and we want to see them succeed. We want to help them. We know that the Church must be a resource to parents in strengthening young people, and we want all the programs we plan here to assist parents and leaders.
“Fun is an attitude”: A Mutual group finding joy in service. (Photo by Richard M. Romney.)