Although our ward is quickly plowing through the rest of the manual, I realize many of you are several, or even a dozen, lessons behind us. I decided to pick up a lesson that I skipped over when I was out of town which may be about where some of you are at. (And for any newcomers: our Manual 3 archive has a post for every lesson when jeans discussed them in 2008.)
I read through the suggested lesson for Lesson 31 - "Service in the Church." The stated objective is "Each young woman will understand the importance of serving in the Church and ways she can serve." While the lesson outline is okay, and encourages consecration of time and also finding little ways to brighten someone's day, there seems to me to be one thing missing: a vision of why we are here together.
Why do we meet together every week? Why classes? Why don't we just study on our own? Why callings? What exactly is this church we are serving in anyway? What is the purpose of the church and so what is the goal of our service there? These seem to be some foundational questions to think about before simply telling the girls they "should" like to have callings or they can also fulfil this "should" by doing small and simple things. Why the "should"? I guess I'm one of those people who wants to have a clear vision of why I am doing something. But I've found the YW like to know that too, especially the Laurels (who have had these same lessons several times over by now!).
Well, the church's work, and God's stated purpose, is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life" of all his children. So, some further questions might be: How does YW bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of the young women? How can God use a bishop for this work? Why might He call YW to have their own callings? What might they do to help? How can a mother or a father help lead others to eternal life?
This might be a cool time to do some training for your YW. What is the purpose of a YW class presidency? What is the purpose of mutual? How can the class work together to accomplish something significant in the ward? with a less-active member? for someone at school?
Some resources for this are:
From Elder Ballard's talk "O Be Wise," which is all about church service (for example: May I suggest six ways in which we can serve both wisely and well? First, focus on people and principles—not on programs. One of the most important things we do through the gospel of Jesus Christ is to build people. Properly serving others requires effort to understand them as individuals—their personalities, their strengths, their concerns, their hopes and dreams—so that the correct help and support can be provided. Frankly, it’s much easier to just manage programs than it is to understand and truly serve people. The primary purpose of Church leadership meetings should be to discuss how to minister to people. Most routine information and coordination can now be handled through phone calls, e-mails, or regular mail so that agendas for council meetings and presidency meetings can focus on needs of the people...)
An old BN post: http://beginningsnew.blogspot.com/search/label/training%20youth
Chapter 3 of the new Handbook: http://lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/leadership-in-the-church-of-jesus-christ/3?lang=eng
Worldwide Broadcast from 2008: http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,8027-1-4404-4,00.html (for example, Sis. Beck says in the roundtable: "Years ago there was a little rule I made for myself that I think is pretty applicable to everyone. A good reason to have a ward activity or a stake activity is because we need it and it will strengthen our families and individuals. A bad reason to have an activity is because it’s a tradition or there’s a certain holiday we have to celebrate. When we talk about gospel patterns, we know the needs. Let’s plan the activities around those needs, and if something was a wonderful activity last year, it doesn’t mean we need to build it into a tradition."
From Elder Oaks Good-Better-Best talk: http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0%2C5232%2C49-1-775-38%2C00.html#8 (for example: To our hundreds of thousands of home teachers and visiting teachers, I suggest that it is good to visit our assigned families; it is better to have a brief visit in which we teach doctrine and principle; and it is best of all to make a difference in the lives of some of those we visit. That same challenge applies to the many meetings we hold—good to hold a meeting, better to teach a principle, but best to actually improve lives as a result of the meeting.)
Any other thoughts on teaching this lesson?
PS-The lesson focuses for a while on important skills the YW might need in order to be good leaders. That might be productive, but it seems to too easily miss the point completely. What types of things do you think your girls would answer, if you just asked that question without any foundation? Probably that they need to be good at working with people, good at being organized, good at being dependable, etc. But then what is the implication of this? That those with these talents will get callings and those without them won't? What about the idea that God qualifies those He calls? What about teaching faith in God, that if He calls us He'll give us the spiritual gifts we need? (Think 1 Ne 3:7 here.) I appreciate all the manual does to encourage responsibility and good habits, but... doesn't it seem that a foundation of faith and scripture would be a more substantial way to go?