I am having great difficulty buying into the gospel principle manual being used in our Relief Society / Priesthood lessons. I just feel that I can get so much more out of a lesson by reading it myself, as the instructors have been asked to stick to the manual, or go do an in-depth study of a different topic on my own. I understand we have thousands of new members that need to learn the basics, but isn’t that what the gospel principal Sunday school class is for? Anyone else having difficulties with this?
Perhaps it’s just me, but I think the church is really losing its 18-30 age group (both married and unmarried) due to church being dreadfully boring!! I know myself, and several others (in different wards with different teachers) just dread going to church due to the poor classes. No new material is being presented, and instead we’re learning things that have been pounded into us since Primary. Help?
From the chatter I’m hearing in the world of Mormonism, AK: you are not alone. Say the words “Gospel Principles manual” to an away-from-the-wardhouse gathering of any but the most orthodox LDS, and you’re sure to get a few groans.
Now, I have some fond memories of the old days when our Relief Society-authored Relief Society manuals covered a delicious range of subjects including—I kid you not—lessons in appreciating the visual arts (sigh). But I’m not sure the problem you’re presently experiencing stems entirely from the Gospel Principles manual.
For there comes a time in the life of every long-term Mormon (or member of any faith) when even under the best conditions the ratio of new stuff learned at church plummets dramatically. It sounds like you’re crossing that threshold.
Years ago, I worked for BYU’s saucy off-campus newspaper The Student Review, and we printed a model Sacrament-Meeting-Remote-Control device. Instructions: simply cut the Remote out of the newspaper, bring it to church, and for entertainment, aim it at the podium. There were buttons for “fastforward,” “rewind,” “mute,” and even “smite.” Genius. Even my not-at-all-unorthodox mother, who might be described as a professional Mormon, kept the remote in her triple combination and giggled every time she hit the “smite” button.
Without resorting to the “smite” button, how might you keep your sanity? A few thoughts:
1. Reconceive of your role in the Relief Society room. Maybe your prime objective during that 45 minutes is not to learn new stuff, but to support a new teacher, perfect your alto during the musical numbers, or channel good vibes into the room. Maybe it’s like my Bikram yoga teacher tells us when we’re all dying to get out of the 90-minute 105-degree-heated class: just stay in the room, and you will receive the benefits.
2. Reconceive of what it means to learn at this point in your spiritual development. Maybe your next big phase of spiritual growth is less about doctrinal “what” questions and more about these challenging and deepening “how” to do faith questions: especially this, how do I keep learning and growing when Sunday meetings bore me?
3. Congratulations! You’ve just won yourself a six-month course in sitting meditation! That’s right: you might be able to transform your entire Gospel Principles RS experience if you use the time for deep breathing and silent meditation. Couldn’t you use a meditative 45 minutes in a relatively chill place? Heck, I’ve been to Quaker meetings where 90% of the hour was spent in total silence and still the meeting utterly rocked.
4. Supplement, supplement, supplement. Some bloggernacle blogs have occasionally run features with enriched Gospel Principles related material. But at this point you may also have to go off the grid and make this the year of independent study. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to understand better about Church teachings or history? Take charge, AK. This is your year. Find that extra book. I even give you permission to crack it open during RS next time you feel like crawling up the walls.
Readers, how about you? How are you getting through your Gospel Principles Sundays? Can you give AK a few tips?
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