Teachings of Presidents
Chapter 16: Uniting to Save Souls

“Chapter 16: Uniting to Save Souls,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (2011), 146–52

“Chapter 16,” Teachings: Harold B. Lee, 146–52

Chapter 16

Uniting to Save Souls

How do the principles of Church correlation help the Church and the family work together to save souls?


While serving as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Harold B. Lee was charged by the First Presidency to oversee an effort to focus all Church programs on the ultimate purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). This effort was called correlation. Correlation includes emphasizing the importance of the family and the home by ensuring that Church auxiliaries, programs, and activities strengthen and support the family. It also includes placing all the organizations and work of the Church under priesthood direction. In the 1960s, many steps were taken to accomplish these purposes, including reemphasizing family home evening and reviewing the curriculum of the Church to ensure that it strengthened the home and family. Correlation in the Church continues today under the direction of the First Presidency, following principles revealed by the Lord.

President Lee taught: “All that we do is to be done ‘with an eye single to the glory of God.’ [D&C 82:19.] And what was the glory of God? As the Lord explained it to Moses, it was to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. … In all our efforts in the … correlation program we have kept these observations always in mind. Simply stated, our two sole objectives in correlation were to keep the priesthood functioning as the Lord has clearly defined it, with the auxiliary organizations properly related thereto, and secondly that the parents and the family magnify their callings as the Lord has commanded. And so we see that everything that is done should be done with that one question in mind: does this activity further the interest of the kingdom, are we keeping our eye single to that prime purpose of the Lord’s organization—to save souls and to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man?”1

Teachings of Harold B. Lee

How does the Church help to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”?

To prepare us for acceptability in the presence of the Lord, we’ve got a church. What was it the Apostle Paul said—they gave some apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists—in other words, organized the Church—for what? “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man.” [See Ephesians 4:11–13.] The Lord knew we were not perfect, and he gave us the Church to help us become so.2

The business of the Church is not just to set up a social organization or to have for its purpose any other thing than the saving of souls.3

The purpose [of the Church is] to perfect the lives of those who have membership in the Church. … It [is] to educate the membership of the body or members of the Church in the doctrines and teachings thereof, that the membership might come to a unity of the faith and unto a knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, which knowledge is, according to the Master Himself, as He declared in that [memorable] prayer in the New Testament, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).4

Why be concerned about organization? … We organize to do the Lord’s work better and easier by sharing the workload, by delegating responsibility. We organize and make the work of the Lord easier and better by acceptance and discharge of responsibility, which makes leaders of members. It is like the Master said when He gave His disciples only one injunction—“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”—which would be saying as we do today—“If you keep my commandments, I’ll make you leaders of men and leaders among my people.”5

The church and kingdom of God is a universal church and not confined to one nation nor to one people. Our constant endeavors are to give to all Saints of the Most High wherever they live every opportunity to grow and develop to the fullest extent possible, to develop in strength and in power for good in the earth, and to gain the reward of faithfulness.6

Why is it important to strengthen the family in everything we do in the Church?

Where is the first line of defense in this church? Is it the Primary? Is it the Sunday School? That is not the way our Heavenly Father has revealed it. You read again the sixty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants. You will find that the Lord placed squarely on the forefront of the battlefields against the powers which would break down these defenses the home, the first line of defense (see D&C 68:25–32).7

The priesthood programs operate in support of the home; the auxiliary programs render valuable assistance. Wise [priesthood] leadership can help us to do our share in attaining God’s overarching purpose, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Both the revelations of God and the learning of men tell us how crucial the home is in shaping the individual’s total life experience. … Much of what we do organizationally, then, is scaffolding, as we seek to build the individual, and we must not mistake the scaffolding for the soul.8

The home [is] the most basic and vital of all God’s institutions. The key to our whole correlation program was given to us when the First Presidency declared one of the most fundamental principles on which we were to build: “The home is the basis of the righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions. The utmost the auxiliaries can do is to aid the home in its problems, giving special aid and succor where it is necessary.”

With that in mind, then, every activity in the Church should be so planned as to strengthen—not to subtract from—the functioning of a well-ordered home. If parental leadership is weak, the priesthood home teachers and auxiliaries must give the necessary guidance. This means in essence that every event sponsored by the Church must be planned with this in mind, with particular emphasis on the importance of urging every family to observe faithfully the weekly home evening, and urging and aiding fathers who hold the holy priesthood in assuming their proper role as the heads of their households.9

God will never ask any man to sacrifice his family in order to carry out his other duties in the kingdom. How many times have we tried to stress that the most important of the Lord’s work we will ever do as fathers and husbands will be within the walls of our own home? Fathers are on the one assignment from which they cannot be released.10

As I thought of what we are doing now and its possible impact, the words of the Prophet Micah came, “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.

“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:1–2.)

I say to you Latter-day Saint mothers and fathers, if you will rise to the responsibility of teaching your children in the home—priesthood quorums preparing the fathers, the Relief Society the mothers—the day will soon be dawning when the whole world will come to our doors and will say, “Show us your way that we may walk in your path.”11

How can the auxiliary organizations work together under priesthood direction to strengthen the family?

Said in a very generalized way, correlation means … to place the priesthood of God where the Lord said it was to be—as the center and core of the Church and kingdom of God—and to see that the Latter-day Saint homes also have their place in the divine plan of saving souls.12

Now there have been established in the Church besides the priesthood organizations auxiliary organizations, or as referred to in the New Testament, “helps and governments” as added to the priesthood [see 1 Corinthians 12:28]. In regard to these organizations President Joseph F. Smith made this statement: “I have in mind our auxiliary organizations; what are they? Helps to the standard organizations of the Church. They are not independent. I want to say to the Young Men’s and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations, and to the Relief Society, and to the Primaries, and to the Sunday Schools, and Religion classes, and all the rest of the organizations in the Church, that not one of them is independent of the Priesthood of the Son of God, not any of them can exist a moment in the acceptance of the Lord when they withdraw from the voice and from the counsel of those who hold the Priesthood and preside over them. They are subject to the powers and authority of the Church, and they are not independent of them; nor can they exercise any rights in their organizations independently of the Priesthood and of the Church.” [Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 383.]13

In the great, modern-day revelation on Church government, the Lord concludes with this statement:

“Behold, this is the way that mine apostles, in ancient days, built up my church unto me.

“Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand?

“Also the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.” (D&C 84:108–110.)

Obviously, as you think about those scriptures, they were given to impress the need for the constant and continued consultations and correlations of the various subdivisions, the priesthood quorums and the auxiliaries and all other units within the kingdom of God for at least four reasons:

First, that each organization was to have its specific function, and it was not to usurp the field of the other, which would be like the eye saying to the hand, “I have no need of thee.”

Second, that each subdivision is of equal importance in the work of salvation, just as each part of the physical body is essential to a complete human being.

Third, that all may be edified or educated together; and

Fourth, that the system may be kept perfect, or in other words, that within the framework of the Lord’s plan of organization for the salvation of his children, the Church will perform as a perfectly organized human body, with every member functioning as it was intended.14

Sometimes, in the past, we have lapsed into patterns which seem to stress our accountability for programs rather than for the flock. We urge all involved … to follow that fundamental injunction as to the purpose of it all: “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Always, if we want a measure by which this program or that program is worthy: does this lend itself to the progress of the individual toward that goal of eternal life in the presence of the Father? If it does not, and it has no relationship thereto, then it has no place in being urged in the Church.15

Suggestions for Study and Discussion

  • Why is it essential that in everything we do in the Church, we remember the Church’s ultimate purpose—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”? (Moses 1:39).

  • How does the Church help us to perfect our lives? How does it help us to “grow and develop to the fullest extent possible”?

  • Why is the home the most basic and vital of all God’s institutions? What can we do in our Church responsibilities to strengthen the family?

  • What do you think President Lee meant when he said that the priesthood is the “center and core of the Church”? How does the counsel given in D&C 84:108–10 help us understand how the priesthood and auxiliary organizations of the Church should work together?

  • How do priesthood and auxiliary programs “operate in support of the home”? How have these programs supported your home?

  • In our efforts to serve in the Church, why must we be careful that programs do not become more important than people? How can we accomplish this?


  1. Address given at Sunday School general conference, 2 Oct. 1970, Historical Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7.

  2. Address given at Brigham Young University, 3 Oct. 1950, Harold B. Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University, 9–10.

  3. Address given at organization of Virginia Stake, 30 June 1957, Historical Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  4. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 587.

  5. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 565.

  6. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 385.

  7. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 262.

  8. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 267.

  9. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 559.

  10. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 292–93.

  11. In Conference Report, Oct. 1964, 87; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1964, 1081.

  12. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 563.

  13. Address to Mutual Improvement Association, 1948, Historical Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3.

  14. In Conference Report, Oct. 1961, 77–78.

  15. Address given at regional representatives’ seminar, 4–5 Apr. 1973, Historical Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 10.