LDS adults to get new course outlines for Sunday classes, new Sunday School president says

Published: Sunday, April 6 2014 10:05 p.m. MDT

Tad R. Callister and Kathryn L. Callister pose for a photo in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A new program is being developed for the adult classes held each Sunday in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and may be implemented soon, the faith's new Sunday School general president said this weekend.

Multiple congregations are pilot testing the program, which is patterned after the youth curriculum introduced last year. The youth curriculum eradicated lecture-style teaching, emphasized preparation and participation by young women and young men, and made manuals obsolete in favor of Internet resources.

"The principles are so representative of the way the Savior teaches," said Brother Tad R. Callister, 68, a popular LDS author, former mission president and former attorney released Saturday as one of the church's general authorities. "You can see the youth respond to it. I marvel when I attend their classes and I see them raising their hands and hear the caliber of the answers they give."

The youth curriculum and the emerging adult program share common themes that emphasize improvement in the learning of members, said Elder Paul B. Pieper, a Seventy whose church responsibilities include curriculum.

Elder Pieper and other church leaders have been clear that improved learning skills are necessary for Latter-day Saints. During Sunday's closing session of the church's 184th Annual General Conference, Elder Marcos Aidukaitis of the Seventy asked a question that explained the concern.

"How can we recognize truth in a world that is increasingly more blunt in its attacks on the things pertaining to God?" he said.

The answer is found in the themes evident in several church institutions and programs — the use of individual agency to spiritually prepare, to seek learning and to share with or teach others.

For example, "Preach My Gospel," the church's training manual for missionaries, calls study "an act of faith requiring the use of personal agency. While learning from a good teacher is very important, it is more important for you to have meaningful learning experiences on your own.”

"We have to invite people to use their agency," Brother Callister said, "because every time they use agency they grow. With increased agency comes increased growth. So teaching ought to be an invitation for people to act, to use their agency."

BYU-Idaho's learning model is another example, with its motto — "Prepare, teach one another, ponder and prove." And the church's seminaries and institutes implemented a "teaching and learning emphasis" around the terms "identify, understand and apply" and "explain, share and testify."

The youth curriculum introduced last year, known as "Come Follow Me," is based on similar principles — "Prepare spiritually. Counsel together. Minister to the youth. Strengthen the family. Teach the gospel."

"Like most things of great worth, knowledge, which is of eternal value, comes only through personal prayer and pondering," said President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during his conference address on Sunday. "These, joined with fasting and scripture study, will invite impressions and revelations and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."

The youth curriculum is based on resources available only on the Web at LDS.org — an online guidebook, learning outlines, videos and talks. The program is designed to create gospel conversations in class based on the teaching style of Jesus Christ.

Elder Pieper has said that as the adult curriculum rolls out for Relief Society, Sunday School and Melchizedek Priesthood classes, time will be set aside in classes to help adults learn and understand online tools.

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