“26: Choosing Appropriate Methods,” Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching (1999), 91
“26,” Teaching, No Greater Call, 91
As a gospel teacher, you stand as the Lord’s representative before those you teach. You should ensure that all you do is in accordance with His will and that in each lesson you show reverence for gospel truths.
The Lord has said, “Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit” (D&C 63:64). The methods you use to teach gospel truths will help develop learners’ sensitivity toward sacred things. Therefore, you should ensure that the methods are appropriate for the principles being taught and that they are in keeping with Church standards. While there may be several methods that could help you communicate a certain message, some of these methods may be inappropriate for a particular lesson because of the subject matter or the ages or experiences of those you teach.
Whenever you consider using a particular method, ask yourself the following questions to ensure that the method is appropriate.
The Spirit must be present for a gospel message to be carried to the hearts of those you teach (see 2 Nephi 33:1; D&C 42:14). Therefore, you should use methods that will set the proper tone for the lesson and invite the Spirit. For example, one Gospel Doctrine teacher used music to discuss the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In preparation for the lesson, the teacher invited a ward member to prepare to sing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” (Hymns, no. 29). In class, the hymn directed class members’ thoughts and feelings to the moment shortly before the mob attacked, when John Taylor sang this hymn to his brethren in Carthage Jail. The Spirit carried the sweetness and the gravity of that moment into the class members’ hearts.
Some teaching methods are more lighthearted and informal than others and are therefore appropriate only in certain lessons. For example, it would be inappropriate to use a role play to discuss the Resurrection. However, a role play might be an appropriate way to teach how to be a good neighbor.
Gospel learning should be a positive, joyful experience that helps learners realize their divine nature. Those you teach should feel that you love and respect them.
Material that is controversial or sensational does not build faith and testimony and should not be used. Do not use any method that could embarrass or belittle anyone.
Use the current editions of the standard works and the lesson materials published by the Church. Consider the methods suggested in the lesson manual before consulting other resources for ideas. Any materials or ideas you use that are not found in the manual should emphasize truth and goodness. To supplement lesson materials and the scriptures, you may use general conference addresses, Church magazines, and Church-produced audiovisual materials and pictures.
Some methods require special preparation. For example, you must obtain the bishop’s approval to invite guest speakers, and the stake president’s approval is required for inviting guest speakers to stake meetings (see Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders , 325).