“How can I profit more from stake conference?” New Era, Sept. 1972, 47
Answer/Richard H. Morley
Conferences in the Church are special occasions when members and nonmembers alike gather and glean strength from one another and from the speakers. The words of truth delivered there can benefit you in your church callings as well as in personal matters.
Unfortunately there are people who attend both local and general conferences who feel that there is really nothing there for them. Usually the blame is placed on the speakers, but why, if the speakers are at fault, does one person go home dissatisfied while another, who was seated close-by, find that it was one of the best conferences he’s ever attended? The problem is not in the speaker but in the listeners.
Certainly the speakers do have a great obligation to prepare to speak. They should follow the Lord’s admonition to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.” Those who do so diligently are promised that grace will attend them. (D&C 88:77–78.) In their preparations the speakers should assess the needs of the congregation and make themselves receptive to the promptings of the Spirit. But how often is an excellent sermon not delivered because of the unreceptive attitude of the audience? When the audience has been expecting and praying for inspiration, speakers often find that they speak with power beyond their natural capacities. It seems that the spiritual growth, inspiration, and satisfaction derived from conference are largely a personal matter.
Some have expressed regret that General Authorities are no longer able to attend local conferences with the same regularity that they used to. We know that the growth of the Church makes this impossible. Remember that Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” (John 13:20.) In other words, if a person does not value and respect local speakers in their assignments, the Lord’s Spirit will not be with that person.
Exactly how can the listener profit more from conference?
First, he needs to prepare his mind for the conference by being expectant, receptive, optimistic. He should have been obeying the commandments and have been endeavoring to put into practice those items of counsel imparted at the last conference. As important as it is to attend conferences, more important are the periods of faithfulness during the intervening months. “And it shall come to pass, that inasmuch as they are faithful, and exercise faith in me, I will pour out my Spirit upon them in the day that they assemble themselves together.” (D&C 44:2.)
In addition, going to the Lord in prayer with regard to special problems or needs, as well as fasting, can be beneficial to you, to the speaker, and to others in the congregation.
Those who thus assemble to receive the Lord’s will concerning them are told that “this is pleasing unto your Lord, and the angels rejoice over you; the alms of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world.” (D&C 88:1–2.)
By giving some thought to your preparation the Lord’s will can be revealed to you, and conferences can become meaningful events in your life.