“December 31–January 6. We Are Responsible for Our Own Learning,” Come, Follow Me—For Sunday School: New Testament 2019 (2019)
“December 31–January 6. We Are Responsible for Our Own Learning,” Come, Follow Me—For Sunday School: 2019
Record Your Impressions
One of your objectives as a teacher is to encourage class members to learn from the scriptures on their own and with their families. Hearing the experiences of others can inspire them to seek their own experiences. So, at the beginning of each class, ask class members to share scriptures from their study that inspired or impressed them.
Studying the New Testament is an opportunity not only to learn about the Savior and His doctrine but also to discover how to follow Him more perfectly. The account in Matthew 19:16–22 is a good way to introduce this theme (see also the video “Christ and the Rich Young Ruler” on LDS.org). You might ask class members to search this account for something they learn about becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ and share what they find. For another activity idea related to this principle, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families.
How can you inspire your class members to take a more active role in their learning, rather than placing sole responsibility on the teacher? Here’s an idea. Invite a class member to toss a soft object to you, while you make no effort to catch it. Use this activity to begin a discussion about the roles of learners and teachers in gospel learning. Elder David A. Bednar’s statement about learning by faith, found in “Additional Resources,” could help in this discussion.
To help class members understand that learning the gospel requires faith to act, you could divide them into groups and invite each group to read one of the following accounts: Mark 5:25–34; Luke 5:17–26; and John 9:1–7. What did the people in each account do to show their faith in the Savior? What actions can we take to learn the gospel and show our faith that the Lord will help us learn truth?
All class members have responsibility to invite the Spirit into the class. To help class members understand this, ask them to read Alma 1:26 and Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22; 88:122–23 and share what teachers and students can do to invite the Spirit. It might be helpful to write their responses on the board under headings such as these: What the teacher can do and What the learners can do. Would it help to create a poster with the class members’ responses that could be displayed for the next few weeks?
Many passages in the New Testament teach principles that can guide our search for truth. Examples include Luke 11:9–13; John 5:39; 7:14–17; and 1 Corinthians 2:9–11. You could invite members of your class who read these passages in their personal study to share what they learned. Or you could read these passages as a class and invite class members to share how they gained their testimonies.
No matter how long we have been in the Church, we all need to constantly strengthen our testimonies. To help class members identify truths that they need to know for themselves, you could write on strips of paper some scripture references that teach important truths, such as John 3:16–17; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Mosiah 3:13; Alma 7:11–13; and Doctrine and Covenants 135:3. Ask class members to read these scriptures, summarize the eternal truths they find, and discuss what they can do to gain a testimony of them. To make this activity more engaging for youth, consider hiding the strips of paper around the room and inviting youth to “seek for the truth.”
Acts 17:10–12 describes Saints who searched the scriptures and gained their own witness of the truth. To encourage class members to follow their example, read these verses together and invite class members to share scripture passages that have strengthened their testimonies of the gospel.
Developing the habit of scripture study may be challenging for class members who feel that they don’t have the necessary time, understanding, or skills. What can you do to help them be successful? You might start by discussing the story about the axmen in “Additional Resources.” To help class members gain the confidence to study the scriptures, you could share information from “Ideas to Improve Your Personal Scripture Study” in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families. Perhaps you or other class members could share experiences with using some of these ideas or other meaningful experiences studying the scriptures. You could also select a chapter in the New Testament and try studying it as a class using some of these ideas.
To encourage class members to study Matthew 1 and Luke 1 at home in preparation for next week’s discussion, you might ask this question: “Have you ever been asked to do something that seemed impossible?” These chapters illustrate the truth that “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
Elder David A. Bednar explained: “I have observed a common characteristic among the instructors who have had the greatest influence in my life. They have helped me to seek learning by faith. They refused to give me easy answers to hard questions. In fact, they did not give me any answers at all. Rather, they pointed the way and helped me take the steps to find my own answers. … An answer given by another person usually is not remembered for very long, if remembered at all. But an answer we discover or obtain through the exercise of faith, typically, is retained for a lifetime. … Only in this way can a person move beyond relying upon the spiritual knowledge and experience of others and claim those blessings for himself or herself” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 67).
Brother Tad R. Callister taught:
“Two axmen … held a contest to determine who could cut down more trees in a day. At sunrise the contest commenced. Every hour the smaller man wandered off into the forest for 10 minutes or so. Each time he did this, his opponent smiled and nodded, assured that he was forging ahead. The larger man never left his post, never stopped cutting, never took a break.
“When the day ended, the larger man was shocked to learn that his opponent, who seemingly wasted so much time, had cut many more trees than he. ‘How did you do it when you took so many breaks?’ he asked.
“The winner replied, ‘Oh, I was sharpening my ax.’
“Every time we study the scriptures, we are sharpening our spiritual ax” (“The Joy of Learning,” Ensign, Oct. 2016, 14).