“Introduction,” Children and Youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: An Introductory Guide for Parents and Leaders (2019)
Working together, parents and leaders help children and youth deepen their conversion, become worthy disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and become men and women of integrity through:
Gospel learning that inspires personal commitment.
Service and activities that edify body and spirit.
Personal development that produces fulfilling growth.
The guiding principles and general roles outlined in this booklet are adaptable. There is not one right way to apply them. Some ideas and examples are available online at ChildrenandYouth.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Seek inspiration to know what is best for each individual (see “Adjust and Adapt”).
Prophets have said that this generation of children and youth is among the best the Lord has sent to the earth (see Russell M. Nelson, “Hope of Israel,” worldwide youth devotional, June 3, 2018, 16). They have the potential to have a great impact on the world. They have been invited to help gather Israel on both sides of the veil. A higher, holier approach is needed to care for and minister to them. This approach will help children and youth:
Know their eternal identity and purpose.
Deepen their conversion to Jesus Christ, getting His gospel into their hearts and inspiring them to choose to follow Him.
Fulfill Aaronic Priesthood duties.
Participate together in the work of salvation.
Develop personally with parental support and leaders assisting as needed.
Be worthy to attend the temple and have enduring joy on the covenant path.
As children and youth receive revelation for their lives, build gospel-centered relationships, and exercise agency as they grow, they will be successful in accomplishing these purposes.
In His youth, Jesus needed to learn His divine identity and mission, just as each child of God must do. He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). He grew in a balanced way, and so can all children and youth.
Help children and youth bring the Savior into all aspects of their lives—not just on the Sabbath. As they strive to make Jesus Christ the center of their lives, He promises to send the Holy Ghost to be their comforter and guide.
Ideally, following the Savior starts in the home. Church leaders can provide important support for individuals and families.
Parents plan family experiences and conversations to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet the unique needs of each child. This happens as families work and play together in ways that teach essential skills, strengthen character, and provide opportunities to grow.
Pray for guidance. Heavenly Father knows your children and will help you teach them.
Help your children seek and recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Express love and frequently compliment your children in their efforts to do well and for the Christlike qualities you see in them.
Look for opportunities to serve others as a family.
Help your children see how they can apply the gospel in all areas of their lives.
Guide your children and encourage them to set their own goals and plans.
Help them come up with their own solutions to problems.
Offer support, help, and encouragement along the way.
Communicate with teachers and leaders to determine how they can best support your children. Be careful not to break any confidences with your children or embarrass them.
The role of the Church includes teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, providing ordinances, and supporting the home. Leaders and teachers support parents by establishing strong, nurturing relationships with the children and youth they serve.
Communicate informally with parents to find out how to support their children. Share strengths you notice.
Ask what they hope their children will experience and learn in Aaronic Priesthood quorums, in Young Women classes, and at activities.
When parents are not active members of the Church:
Explain to the parents this effort to support children and youth, and ask if and how they would like their children to be involved.
Ask children or youth what kind of support they would like.
Talk with the ward council about how to include the parents as much as possible.
Help children and youth to recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Ask them what they want to learn and experience in quorums and classes and at activities.
Encourage them to take the lead in planning and conducting activities.
Support Aaronic Priesthood holders in fulfilling quorum responsibilities.
Personal and family scripture study and prayer will help children and youth feel and recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost and learn to love the Savior. Individuals and families are encouraged to use Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families and the words of living prophets to study the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Children and youth meet together to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ. Children learn the gospel through class instruction and Primary singing time. Youth learn doctrine in classes and quorums. Children and youth are invited to share what they learn at home and to apply the gospel in their lives.
Service and activities establish righteous daily habits, build family relationships, teach life skills, develop Christlike attributes, and help children and youth grow. Family service and activities can focus on individual and family needs and provide opportunities to apply gospel principles in everyday experiences.
Service—including Aaronic Priesthood holders officiating in the ordinance of the sacrament—and regular activities provide opportunities to gather, learn new skills, accomplish difficult tasks, and build gospel-centered relationships with peers and leaders. These opportunities help children and youth grow spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually and give meaningful service to others. JustServe (JustServe.org) is a valuable resource for community service opportunities.
Multiday activities for youth include For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences, youth conferences, camps, and other gatherings. These activities can help youth deepen their desire to follow the Savior, pull them out of their regular routines, and help them see that they are part of a larger group of youth who share righteous goals.
Children and youth choose what they can do to grow and learn to follow the Savior. Parents can help them recognize how they are already growing and where they may need to improve. All activities, including church, school, friendships, sports, the arts, work, and other individual interests can help children and youth follow Jesus Christ.
Leaders love and serve each child and youth and become aware of their needs and interests. Through loving relationships, leaders can provide a unique and powerful influence to support and encourage children and youth in their individual service and growth.
Each individual, family, and congregation is unique. What works best for one may not work for another. Do what works for your family, class, quorum, or ward. Talk about your opportunities and concerns, and seek revelation for how to tailor this initiative to help individual children and youth reach their divine potential.
For example, children and youth will vary in how they approach personal growth: the type, number, and frequency of goals, as well as how much support they need, should be determined individually. Classes and quorums also adapt to meet needs. In addition, the type and frequency of activities can vary according to local circumstances.
Children and youth will naturally be motivated as they feel loved, grow, improve, and feel the Holy Ghost in their lives. When change and growth become difficult for them, encourage them to look for ways to overcome challenges or adjust their plans. Strong and trusting relationships with parents, leaders, and peers can give them strength to keep trying.
As children and youth progress, praise their efforts and encourage them. Give them opportunities to share what they are learning, and celebrate their growth. In addition, all children and youth may receive items such as a ring or medallion to remind them that they are part of a worldwide group striving to follow Jesus Christ. As children and youth fulfill spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual goals, they may receive additional emblems.