“4: Helping New Members and Less-Active Members,” Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching (1999), 37
“4,” Teaching, No Greater Call, 37
President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled:
“It is not an easy thing to become a member of this Church. In most cases it involves setting aside old habits, leaving old friends and associations, and stepping into a new society which is different and somewhat demanding.
“With the ever increasing number of converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moroni 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things. …
“This is a work for everyone. …
“I ask each of you to please help in this undertaking. Your friendly ways are needed. Your sense of responsibility is needed” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 66, 68; or Ensign, May 1997, 47–48).
As a gospel teacher, you may serve people who have recently joined the Church or who are returning to activity in the Church. You can follow President Hinckley’s counsel by befriending them, giving them opportunities to participate in lessons, and ensuring that they are nurtured with the word of God. Following are some suggestions to help you do this.
The First Presidency has counseled us to “extend the hand of fellowship to investigators and new members, providing loving relationships that help them make the social transition to new friends and new patterns of life” (“Helping New Members,” attachment to First Presidency letter, 15 May 1997).
You can help others make this transition by inviting them to class, welcoming them by name when they come, and introducing them to other class members.
In Church classes, all class members are responsible to contribute to the learning atmosphere (see pages 77–78). However, new members and less-active members may need special encouragement to accept this responsibility. A few ideas for helping them participate in lessons are listed below:
In class discussions, ask them questions that you know they will be able to answer.
Encourage them to share their testimonies and their personal experiences in learning gospel truths.
Invite them to read aloud. To give them time to prepare, talk to them in advance about the scripture passages or other material that you would like them to read.
Invite them to pray. To avoid making them feel uncomfortable, extend this invitation in advance.
If you are giving assignments, do so in advance so they will have sufficient time to prepare. Offer to help if they have questions.
As new members and less-active members participate in class discussions and other learning activities, they will grow stronger in their understanding of the gospel and commitment to the Lord and His Church. They will also strengthen you and other class members.
New converts and members who are returning to activity are generally eager to learn about the gospel. You can help them maintain this enthusiasm and increase in their knowledge of the gospel. Consider the following suggestions:
Express your enthusiasm about the gospel.
Bear your testimony.
Share your love for the scriptures.
Take time to speak with them outside of class—to befriend them and to ensure that they are understanding the principles you teach.
Tell them about experiences you have had as you have lived the gospel.
Encourage them to study the scriptures on their own.