I certainly do remember from attending Sunday School (I am a Primary teacher now
and thus do not have the opportunity to attend Gospel Doctrine classes anymore)
the way that lessons would frequently veer way off-topic into dangerous,
contentious and irritating territory (particularly hot-button political issues).
I remember having to bite my tongue a lot to keep from getting into arguments.
Usually however the distractions were provided by the members of the
class—not by the teacher, who generally tried to stay on topic. So I
don’t think changing the curriculum would really help matters any, if
that’s what the writer was desiring.Also, if someone has read
the lesson ahead of time in the manual, that person should see going over it
again in class as an opportunity, not as a boring, redundant chore. Share what
you have learned with the rest of the class, and provide the insights and/or
revelation you received during your own personal study as part of the general
discussion. It is wonderful to be ahead of the game, and to “do your
homework”, as it were. But knowledge is useless unless it is applied and
shared with others.
"How does a lesson about spiritual gifts turn into an all-out debate about
cosmology?"And you *complain* about this? It sounds
A couple of things: (a)this discussion reminds me of a scout roundtable I
attended years ago when all I heard was rattlesnake stories. I didn't go
back for a number of years. When I did, I learned that I'd been missing
some excellent training all for a bad decision not to attend over one bad
experience. (b) for those who are bored because they've "heard it all
before"--take your laptop or smartphone into your ward's family history
class and work on that. You'll accomplish much good for others that have
gone before, but two cautions: (1) don't assume your family history is all
done; it isn't. Try going to an earlier ancestor and do descendancy
research (2) don't overlook your need to study the scriptures on your own
time. You'll need their strength in today's trying times.
A well prepared teacher makes all the difference in Gospel Doctrine, and this is
one class where the teacher needs to be firm about staying with the lesson both
in what s/he presents and what gets discussed. I was in a ward where the teacher
was so fascinating that Sunday School flew by, and we never got off track. I
have been in other wards where same-sex marriage and the evil of the present
administration were front and center, no matter what the lesson was about.
Sorry, I've been known to get a sudden headache and run home to take some
Tylenol. I'm bad for copping out, but better that than an exploding head.
I was talking to a elderly brother from the islands at church one day about
Sunday School class participation. He said "you go to class and sit down.
You pay attention, or go to sleep".
RE: Prodicus ,”Gospel Doctrine class ought to be about together
attempting to confront the scriptures on their own terms.” True i..e.,Despise not prophesyings.Prove all things; hold fast that which is
good.(1Thess 5:20-21)“No one has ever seen God’, but the
one and only Son,‘who is himself God ‘and is in closest relationship
with the Father, has made him known(John 1:18 NIV)As translated correctly J S, Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of
glory and of power. (5:2.). What is the son? First, he is a personage of
Some really well though out Comments here....
Gospel Doctrine class ought to be about together attempting to confront the
scriptures on their own terms. We have plenty of other time in the church and
outside of it where we can listen to the echo chamber of each others'
opinions and speculations.Too often people are in a rush to try to
apply the scripture when they have made no effort first to understand the
scripture. To liken the scripture to yourself first you have to immerse yourself
in the scripture and understand its primary message, the moral principles at
hand, and the sentiments expressed. Discussion and commentary helps when and
only when it helps us explore these.Too often people fasten on
superficial similarities to modern situations, on trivial details or wordings
that they think can be used to advance their pet speculative theories, and miss
the real truth of God's interactions with His people.If we
actually pay attention, the scriptures shatter our speculations, challenge our
human complacency, and are an affront to the self-assurance of any human society
(even societies among the faithful). A good example of something really jarring
is the Sermon on the Mount.
The program of the church works best if you follow the program from the church.
I prefer to hear inspired council from the prophets out of the manual not some
"deep doctorine" from the local Sunday school teacher.
No one has a right to teach his own ideas, a different subject, pursue a
personal or partisan agenda in Church meetings. It is dry and boring , at the
other extreme, merely to read out of a manual.The topics in the
manual are, however, those to be taught, following teaching suggestions in
asking important, thought provoking questions to the class. A good class is
one in which all are motivated to understand and live the basic Gospel doctrines
better than ever before, where people leave class determined to be a better
person.A Sunday School class is not to justify popular sins, show
off the teacher's ideas including questionable or irrelevant
"knowledge"; it is not to teach man-made doctines and popular
psychology. It is to teach sound doctrines and inspire greater obedience to
God's commanments out of a pure heart. It is not to "get through all
the lesson material". It IS to encourage meaningful participation by
all.Regardless of the teacher, however, the Spirit of God is always
present where one or two are gathered together in God's name; I have had
personal inspiration and revelation during poorly presented lessons and separate
OMGosh! I would SOOOOOOOO much rather hear about cosmology than the lessons I
memorized eons ago. I must leave the room if someone starts up with any version
of the Parable of the Bicycle by Stephen E. Robinson. Great story (though I do
think it lulls us a bit into the carnal security spoken of by Nephi) but a human
like me can only take so much, and then we explode. I tiptoe quietly away to
protect others. I also try to vacation in July. Love the pioneers, and
wouldn't be here without them, but when I can recite the stories verbatim,
it's just function overload. So, just one question: where is
your church building, and what time is Sunday School? Joseph Smith and Abraham
were really big on cosmology, and I'd love to be enlightened.
First: The purpose of Sunday School is to supplement your own learning and to
allow class members to share testimonies and experiences that reinforce
doctrinal principles. There is risk in that but it can still be a rich
environment for both sharing and receiving.Second: I attend Sunday
School every week because I sustained the instructor in his/her calling. I also
ready the lesson manual before every lesson so I can aid with thoughts and
experiences of my own. Attending and participating are a part of sustaining.
Sometimes I participate a lot (especially if it is slow) and other times I
don't participate at all (if other class members are actively engaged).
Sometimes I contribute best by listening.Third: I love Sunday
School. I've had teachers of all types: organized/disorganized,
confident/insecure, facilitator/lecturer, humble/proud, doctrinal/touchy-feely,
engaging/boring, etc. I don't expect the teacher and other class members to
adjust to me. I figure it is my opportunity to adjust to them so I can best
learn from them. People are wonderful. I learn best from the kaleidoscope of
The SS student seems to have read the lesson before class and is not seeing the
same lesson being taught. I like to read the Gospel Doctrine and Priesthood
lessons before hand as much as possible and contribute. Once in a while I will
refer to a scripture or important point to help direct the discussion. I the
past I have been in classes where the teacher comes in announces the lesson
title and wings it on his own thoughts and knowledge and the class has a fine,
but not necessarily spiritually uplifting time.
Sunday school teachers have a responsibility. So do the class members. The best way I have found to keep a lesson on topic is to participate. We all
know the doctrine, some more intimately than others, but we can all speak up in
class and get a lesson back on track by simply sharing how a point the teacher
made relates to actual doctrine. If the teacher is getting off topic regularly,
the students can become the teacher's teacher by sharing testimony. Not by
pointing out the teacher's faults in front of the class and embarrassing
them into shame. Rather, by supporting the teacher's INTENT by steering
the conversation back into the safety of pure doctrine. At that point, the
Spirit of God has a way of helping people get back on track.
I have been in Sunday School classes like this, and there are ways to get it
fixed.1. Going to the Sunday School President is the first thing
that should be done.2. If #1 doesn't help, this leads to more
creative ways of "helping". Assuming you have an iPad, tablet, or phone
with the LDS software installed you can always ask where they are in the lesson
becuase you are lost and what they are teaching doesn't seem to be in the
manual.3. Ask the bishop for a calling in the Primary or Sunday
School so that you can teach. (Some callings are more despiration than
inspriation)4. Study the lesson each week, then ask the teacher
questions you have based on the lesson material.5. Ask for
scriptural support for non-doctrine issues.To "Angela" I
think you missed the problem.What is being described is more like
what I have seen where a teacher uses the lesson title as a guide, then makes up
their own lesson that has no resemblance to what the manual outlines. Your
advice fits better if the teaching is good and the class members are the
In Gospel Essentials/Principles Class, there are normally life experience
examples given and it is expected that there will be an explanation of how they
relate to the topic at hand. This should be the same course of action in any
class. Insights can come from life, from good books, media, from
other Prophets, General Conference, etc., but should seek to build the Kingdom
and to teach true doctrine. When class members seek to look/sound intelligent,
but follow courses for false doctrines or things not already clarified by
General Authorities, the conversation needs to be steered back to basics. The
idea is to teach by the Spirit, and to not teach things that aren't
clarified. If needed, it is fine to say, "I don't know the answer to
that question, but I will check on it and get back to you next week," and
then to steer back to the original topic. Conversations should help uplift, and
there should be enough respect to attend lessons.
To learn more than what you have heard in Sunday School since you were in
Sunbeams, I recommend that you leverage the power of the internet to strengthen
your understanding of the LDS doctrines and more especially, the rich history of
the LDS Church. You will learn much more by doing that than you
ever thought possible from just attending Sunday School every Sunday. I speak
from experience as I taught Gospel Doctrine for 6 years. The Internet helped me
gain greater insights and I was complimented by the classes I taught for my
depth of knowledge I could then share.Good luck!
I think the comments suggesting redirecting questions are the best. I also find
that it's best to try to look at the situation from the most loving and
charitable position possible. In other words, although these lessons may not be
the most inspiring, perhaps the teacher is doing the best they can and we need
to be supportive of them in their calling and not complain about them to other
toddybear stated: Don't be rigid, deviate if needed, but teaching nothing
other than LDS doctrine. This is the key: Teach correct principles
and doctrine. Too many lessons go off the rails because the doctrine is not
being taught. And when crazy comments are made from class members,
it's hard to steer the lesson back to topic.
An other thought is; imagination, attitude, perseverance, desire belief and
expectations is your prayer. The lords prayer thy will be done is the Lord will
Do what they do in our ward1-hijack the discussion or 2-don't go to class
and visit in the hall.
One of the many wonderful things about the church is that we all take turns
serving in the various callings. Because of this we often have inexperienced,
new, and untrained leaders and teachers. But with patience, love and practice we
really do all get better. In the meantime you can do a lot to enrich
the class by:1. Prayerfully study and ponder the lesson yourself ahead of
time.2. While studying note personal experiences and insights of your own
that go along with the principles that will be taught in the lesson.3.
During the lesson listen to the spirit to note if you feel inspired to share
those experiences or insights. 4. If the class discussion gets way off
topic see if you can gently redirect things. For example "This has been so
interesting but I was really wondering about __________________ I had a thought
I wanted to share about that." Directing discussion and segwaying back to
the assigned topic is difficult for any teacher- help him or her out. 5.
Listen carefully to see if the spirit has something to teach you outside of what
is being said in the discussion6. Pray for the teacher by name in your
As a Sunday School President I have recently had one to one interviews with the
teachers to help them with their teaching. Basicly,Live the gospel to have the
Holy Spirit with you. Know your subject so you can teach with conviction and
confidence. Plan the lesson with the intention of teaching the main points.Dont
try to cover all the material, Ask questions trying to make participation. Dont
be rigid, deviate if needed, but teaching nothing other than LDS doctrine.
Attention deteriates after 20 minutes so be prepared to finish early.Get a
commitment, and promise blessings. Finaly, include your testiment of the truth
of the matter taught.
Are you active in the conversation? Or do you just sit there? Once you become
active, you can help lead the conversation in a different direction. I sometimes
ask:"Can you help me understand how this correlates to this weeks lesson and
how I can make that relate to my life?"
Pss To clarifie , You mater, That's the Spirit of things. It's not all
about you nor is it all about me. It's all about the Spirit of things, the
greater good. I'm not a smart person, I stop,look and listen before I
cross the street. There are lines, fences, boundary's and limits for a
P.S. The truth is is you mater.
A code of conduct.1. watch what you say. 2. don't take what
anyone said to heart or personally.3. never assume anything. 4.
always do your best. There are things that's expected, things
that's acceptable and things that is unacceptable or uncalled for. If you don't stand for truth, you'll fall for anything.
The suggestions in the article are good. But I've one request - don't
call the bishop. Use the chain of command. Talk to the Sunday School
president. He reports to a councilor in the bishopric over Sunday School. Try
those first. I am a bishop and would very much appreciate ward members using
other ward leaders who have been called and set apart in their areas of