My feelings about the Church’s new Come Follow Me plan for families has been a little mixed. I’ve gone back and forth about it but have been willing to give it a shot and see what happens.
Initially, I felt like a church-wide focus on all the same scriptures across all programs from Sunday School to family study was a little too correlated for my taste. I prefer to create study methods that are tuned to our needs.
We have ventured forth anyway, and some exciting things have happened. First, it was a little rough; we didn’t know how to organize personal study with family study and the manual. If we studied the same stuff together every night, what did we study personally? With a chapter or two a week, that could be read in minutes, reviewing the same chapter alone and with family for 7 days straight and then again at church, that seems like you’d get a little burnt out! I still don’t totally understand it.
Here’s what we’ve done though. We haven’t been sitting down as a family every morning or night and studying, that hasn’t worked for us yet. But when I drive my kids to school, I play a dramatized audio version of the chapter in the car. There is enough time to listen to part or all and then pause it and talk about certain verses. This has worked very well, and we have enjoyed it quite a bit.
When the kids go to church, they love that they are prepared to answer questions and share insights from both their personal study and our family conversations. They understand the material more and have something to say about it.
My daughter recently told us of a troubling circumstance involving a friend. I had a solution at hand from my reading of the sermon on the mount that morning. She has also read it and because of Come Follow Me, maybe her friend who was having the issue had as well; very cool stuff.
At church, I was asked to sit in on one of my daughter’s classes because the other teacher couldn’t make it. As I was sitting in singing time, I was informed that the teacher didn’t make it as well so I would have to teach. Now, typically, I love the challenge of being called to teach at the last minute. This, however, was even better because I had been studying and pondering the material the entire week already, so that made it even easier. I knew exactly what the lesson was and was completely prepared.
I did not expect that at all, but you can bet that I was super grateful that I gave participation in Come Follow Me a serious chance. I feel like in this short time I have seen way more little miracles and blessings that I thought I would from something like this. We’ll see how things go as the months and years progress, but as for now, I’m a big fan of Come Follow Me.
I’ll leave you with a little exchange between a 7-year-old kid and me in my class from that Sunday where I was called to teach at the last minute:
- Kid: Are you our teacher today?
- Me: Yes, it looks like I am going to teach.
- Kid: Because on non-fast Sundays we get a snack, did you bring a snack?
- Me: Sorry I didn’t realize I was teaching until about 5 minutes ago, so I don’t have any snacks.
- Kid: Aw, man.
- Me: But I can promise that we will feast of the words of Christ!
- Kid: That’s not what it means!
The blessings of obedience are unending. I’m so happy to see that you and your family are having a good time with the new program. I also appreciate your candor in admitting that this was a change that you were uneasy about at first. There are some recent changes that I’m struggling with; you have inspired me to be obedient to the new direction. It’s like my parents would always say about a new food, “You have to try it first, then you may really like it!” While this wasn’t always the case with food, we can be assured blessings will result from following the prophet – even when we’re unsure, perhaps especially when we’re unsure.
I don’t think that it is a coincidence that we started with the New Testament where we are introduced to the Pharisees and their objections to having their traditions meddled with.
I’m very cautious to never just do something because a leader said so. There should always be an accompanying witness of the Spirit so that the law of witnesses can be fulfilled; otherwise, we run the risk of being deceived. We have a duty and an ability to discern. I always keep in mind the Alma 32 approach where when a “word” comes to me, I give it a chance to grow and see what comes of it. It is in this process that the second witness comes and often with a third, fourth, or more.
To be honest, I do not like the phrase “follow the prophet,” I never use it. I believe we should “follow the Spirit” and try the words of all men whether they be good or evil. As I said, it doesn’t mean that we necessarily need a witness before proceeding especially when there are policy changes involved where there really isn’t a great risk to try something out.
The time may come, and I believe it will, when deeply challenging things are uttered by our leaders. We must have some good experience with the Spirit because it will be essential.