“Lesson 156: Church Organizations and Programs,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Lesson 156,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
As the Church has continued to grow, the Lord has inspired Church leaders and members to implement organizations and programs within the Church to bless the Saints. When some of these organizations and programs were first established, they were not critically needed, but as the Church has grown they have become crucial in the Lord’s work for the salvation of His children.
Begin class by asking students to imagine that a friend does not want to go to her Young Women meetings and activities. She says that they are not fun enough and that they are a waste of her time.
After you present this example, ask students to silently consider what they might say to help this friend understand the purpose of her Young Women meetings and activities.
What would you say is the purpose of the Young Men and Young Women organizations?
How can knowing the purpose of an organization help those who are part of it?
Invite students to read Moses 1:39 silently, looking for Heavenly Father’s purpose in all that He does. Invite students to report what they find. You may need to remind students that immortality refers to the condition of living forever in a resurrected state. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected, regardless of their wickedness or righteousness in this life. Eternal life refers to living forever as families in God’s presence and becoming like Him. Like immortality, eternal life is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, it also requires our “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3).
If Heavenly Father’s purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children, what is the purpose of the Church?
After students have responded, write the following truth on the board: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assists Heavenly Father in bringing to pass the eternal life of His children. Then ask:
What are some ways the Church assists in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of Heavenly Father’s children?
Explain that the Church has a number of organizations—called auxiliaries to the priesthood—and other programs that help us progress toward eternal life. Invite students to name some of them. (Answers might include Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School and programs such as family home evening and Seminaries and Institutes of Religion.)
To help students understand how Church organizations and programs help us learn and progress in the gospel so that we can receive eternal life, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Explain that this statement is about the seminary and institute programs, but the principle it teaches can also apply to the other Church auxiliaries and programs.
“These programs were started when they were nice but were not critically needed. They were granted a season to flourish and to grow into a bulwark for the Church. They now become a godsend for the salvation of modern Israel in a most challenging hour” (“Teach the Scriptures” [address to CES religious educators, Oct. 14, 1977], 3, LDS.org).
How has seminary helped you prepare for some of life’s challenges?
After sufficient time, ask students in each group to summarize the history of their assigned organization or program and explain their answers to the questions they discussed.
Explain that each Church organization and program originally operated independently. As the Church expanded dramatically in the 1950s, Church leaders saw a need to evaluate how Church organizations were meeting the Church’s objectives. They decided to unify and coordinate all Church organizations and programs both in administration and in selecting curriculum. These changes helped the organizations and programs to better meet the complex needs of the growing Church and to strengthen the family. Under this correlation effort, all Church organizations operate under the direction of priesthood leaders, who hold the keys to preside.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Correlation is that system of church administration in which we take all the programs of the Church, bring them to one focal point, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, involve all members of the Church in the operation—and do it all under priesthood direction” (Let Every Man Learn His Duty [booklet, 1976], 2).
Write the following principle on the board: As we participate in Church organizations and programs, we receive the blessings available through them. Then write the following questions on the board, and invite students to answer them in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.
After sufficient time, invite a few students to share what they have written. You might also share your thoughts about how Church organizations bless your life and help you and your family progress toward eternal life.