“Lesson 17: Church Meetings,” The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A (2000), 122–29
“Lesson 17: Church Meetings,” The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, 122–29
The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand the purpose of Church meetings and to inspire us to attend them regularly.
Purposes of Church Meetings
Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Because it is very difficult to become perfect, our Father helps us. He has established the Church; called leaders; and given us commandments, principles, and ordinances. In our Church meetings we receive instructions concerning these things. We must obey and live according to God’s laws to become perfect. The Lord said “that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know … how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given” (D&C 43:8).
There are various Church meetings that are or will be available for us to attend.
Display visual 17-a, “The Last Supper.”
Paul told the Saints at Corinth “that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:23–26).
The purpose of sacrament meeting is for us to partake of the sacrament. This reminds us of the sacrifice our Lord made for us. We renew the covenants made at baptism, at which time we became members of His Church and took upon ourselves His name—the name of Jesus Christ.
Display visual 17-b, “The sacrament is in remembrance of the body and blood of Christ.”
We read in Doctrine and Covenants 20 that “it is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (v. 75). The bread and water that are passed to us are “the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ” (D&C 20:40). Partaking of these emblems is a very sacred privilege. No one should partake of the sacrament unworthily (see 3 Nephi 18:28–29).
Have the assigned sister report on the subsection “Our Attitude When Taking the Sacrament” in Gospel Principles chapter 23.
Sacrament meeting is for all members of the family, including children. Because small children often cannot sit quietly during the meeting, we may question whether they are benefiting from it. However, each child has a spirit that can learn. Attending Church meetings allows a child’s spirit to be taught.
We are commanded to attend sacrament meeting. When Jesus taught the Nephites the purpose of the sacrament and how to partake of it, He said, “And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things [take the bread and water]” (3 Nephi 18:12).
“The Church directs the holding of weekly sacrament meetings in all its organized units. These are the most solemn and sacred meetings in the Church. Their purpose is to enable the saints to renew their covenants by partaking of the sacrament; to receive instruction in the doctrines of the kingdom; to worship the Almighty in song, prayer, and sermon” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 661).
Fast and Testimony Meeting
The fast and testimony meeting is held once a month, usually on the first Sunday, in the sacrament meeting. This meeting is for us to voluntarily bear our individual testimonies. Our testimonies should be brief expressions of our faith and knowledge of the divine mission of Jesus Christ, the callings and authority of Church leaders, and heartfelt gratitude for the mercies of the Lord to us. These meetings lift up our spirits. Our faith in God and obedience to Him increase. In the fast and testimony meeting it is appropriate to perform ordinances such as the naming and blessing of children and the confirming of new members of the Church.
This meeting is held each Sunday for all male members of the Church age 12 and older who hold the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood. Investigators and members who do not hold the priesthood may be invited to attend.
A meeting is held each Sunday for women and girls to study the gospel. If there are enough women and girls attending, this group may be divided into two separate age-groups. The women attend Relief Society, and the girls (ages 12 through 17) attend the Young Women meetings.
Gospel Instruction for Children
Children under age 12 meet together each Sunday in Primary to receive gospel instruction. This instruction is held during Sunday School and the priesthood and women’s meetings.
The Sunday School is responsible for teaching the gospel to members of the Church age 12 and older during a class period each Sunday.
Making Church Meetings Successful
Whatever the meeting may be, we can help make it better.
Sister LaRue C. Longden told this story about herself: “While very young (and I thought I knew so much) I recall telling a dear Sunday School teacher that I was not going to sacrament meeting any more because it was so boring and dry. … [The teacher] looked at me and said, ‘Don’t you ever let me hear you say that again! God has invited you to that meeting to partake the emblems of Jesus Christ’s suffering and of his gift to you. You are very privileged to be invited. If you take the right spirit with you to meeting, you will always bring something good away with you’” (“God Has Invited You” in Leon R. Hartshorn, comp., Remarkable Stories from the Lives of Latter-day Saint Women , 1:97–98).
What did the teacher suggest Sister Longden do? In addition to taking the right spirit with us, what else can we do to help make a meeting worthwhile? (Write suggestions on the chalkboard.)
To make a meeting successful, we should go with prayerful hearts. This will help us receive of the Spirit while we are there. We can be on time and attend regularly. We can be friendly to all. We can join in the singing and pray silently for those who are participating in the meeting. We can be reverent, keeping our thoughts on what is being said or done. We can willingly participate when asked. We can be quick to obey the promptings of the Spirit and bear testimony.
Each parent has a special responsibility to help prepare children for a happy and successful experience attending meetings. Having the children fed and dressed in time to avoid a last-minute rush will help. Quietly explaining what is taking place in the meeting can help them understand and enjoy it. Teaching hymns at home will help them participate in the singing at Church meetings.
President Spencer W. Kimball reminded us that “we do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained. … We go to worship the Lord. … If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you” (“The Sabbath—A Delight,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 4–5).
A sister who was almost totally deaf came to sacrament meeting each week. She showed real interest in what was being said. She said: “‘I look forward to being in the … presence of those whom I love and who love the gospel. I can share in their spirit without hearing a word, and if I am really in tune, the Lord whispers to me’” (quoted by Robert K. Thomas in “Listening with the Spirit,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 40).
When we attend Church meetings, we can give strength and support as well as receive it from others.
Blessings from Attending Church Meetings
We have talked about what we can contribute to the meetings we attend. Let us consider what we can gain from attending.
Have the sisters discuss blessings they receive from attending Church meetings.
Attending our Church meetings can help us to become more obedient to the Lord’s commandments. Church meetings help enlarge our talents, increase our knowledge of gospel doctrines and principles, and develop greater faith and testimony. They strengthen our ties with friends and neighbors who will support us in living righteously. They draw us closer to our Father in Heaven and Jesus our Savior. They help us to have the Lord’s Spirit. The Savior has promised that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Attending Church meetings can help lead us to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. Meetings are blessings to us from the Lord.
Read the suggestions printed in visual 17-c. Choose at least one, and work on it so you can receive the blessings of sacrament meeting. Discuss with your family how to make Church meetings more meaningful experiences for each family member.
Ephesians 4:11–13 (perfecting the Saints)
Doctrine and Covenants 20:45, 55 (elders conduct meetings; meet together often)
Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–12 (keeping the Lord’s day)
Before presenting this lesson:
Study Gospel Principles chapter 23, “The Sacrament.”
Assign a sister to report on the subsection “Our Attitude When Taking the Sacrament” in Gospel Principles chapter 23, pages 155–56.
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.