My conversations with other youth Sunday School teachers over the last few months have focused on a common concern: Do the youths of our church have a deep enough knowledge of and conversion to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ?
The answer is: of course not, none of us do. That’s why we need to work at it every day and especially every Sunday when we meet together.
The new 2013 curriculum “Come, Follow Me” aims to do just that and reflects my perspective that gospel truths sink deeper when they are being taught and testified by students rather than just heard from a teacher.
Last Sunday, I chose the July lesson titled, “How can I deepen my understanding of covenants?” The first thing I did to prepare was print the 2011 general conference talk “Covenants” by Elder Russell M. Nelson. When I discovered the talk was only three pages long and his references and footnotes were four pages long, the idea came to me clearly, “Here’s our chance to dig a little deeper.”
I cut up the three pages into 15 sections and then attached the referenced foot notations that were included in the paragraph. And simply put, that was the end of my lesson preparation. On Sunday, I prayed for strength to guide the discussion, did some individual studying and then enjoyed the rest of the Sabbath morning with my family.
In class, each student had five minutes to prepare to share a minute of teaching on covenants that clearly reflected Elder Nelson’s thoughts, included additional study on the referenced scriptures and added personal insight that ended with an “I believe” statement. I brought other books he referenced for them to guide their short study.
For the next half hour, each student, including the shy and recent converts, spoke and testified of truth. Here’s what we learned together:
Covenants are sacred promises with God that we can choose to make and keep or not. Agency is key.
Throughout all ages, God has made covenants with his children, and one of the most oft quoted can be found in the familiar scripture John 3:16.
Reading holy scriptures helps us understand more deeply the blessing of being “children of the covenant.”
Abraham’s posterity is entitled to an eternal increase and the blessings of the priesthood. All nations are adopted into his family, and the blessings are eternal.
Some of these promised blessings have been realized while others are still pending.
Joseph Smith’s role in fulfilling the covenant is similar to Abraham’s role in establishing the covenant.
The Lord makes no distinction between those who are literal descendants of Abraham and those who are adopted in — all qualify for the blessings of the eternal covenant. Our patriarchal blessings are personal confirmations.
Incredible blessings flow from the oath and covenant of the priesthood that blesses the lives of men, women and children all over the world.
Those who have made a covenant and participated in the ordinance of baptism have the responsibility to continue to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant through missionary work.
The Book of Mormon is a tangible, modern-day sign that the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant are being fulfilled.
The sacrament helps us renew our covenants every Sunday, and participation is vital for continued faithfulness.
Celestial marriage is the covenant of exaltation and should not be taken lightly.
Committed children of the covenant can remain strong when life is hard and trials seem overwhelming.
The sting of death of those we love is soothed and we can ultimately become stronger after the experience by remembering the eternal nature of our covenants.
The greatest compliment that can be earned in this life is that of being a covenant keeper.
The best part of our time together in Sunday School was hearing every student declare what they believed on each point of doctrine. I was sincerely grateful for the opportunity to dig a little deeper in our understanding of the importance of making and keeping sacred covenants and as the teacher to learn so much from my students.