Elder Ballard’s October Conference address deserves careful thought and implementation. He counseled us to be innovative in service, adding that “to innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify.” And he suggested we make greater use of the phone, emails and snail mail to minimize meetings.
Several years ago I served as the ward teacher trainer with a directive to reach all the teachers in all the auxiliaries. Meetings were poorly attended. I would have taken it personally but for years the ward had been unable to fashion a viable class. 3 was our maximum and they, 2 teachers and an EQ Pres, had all been teacher trainers and knew nobody comes. They kindly felt sorry for me. I got permission to revise the lessons into 1 page mini-lessons, using the current and past manuals, as well as secular professional teaching materials, and to send them as weekly emails or snail mails. Teacher feedback was great. But I had to discontinue the email course when I couldn’t get staffing updates from the presidencies. Turnover is great in our inner city and university ward. Nothing has been done about teacher training in my ward since.
Our new RS President has conquered her initial fears about putting a great deal of RS business online. Now she’s a true believer. Personal (pleas for housing, babysitting, jobs, etc.) and organizational info go email. No more begging for DI volunteers and temple volunteers at RS or hours of phoning to fill the quotas; now the email goes out to everyone and the volunteers appear.
I think we need to do much more with email. My hope was to get to an interactive experience with the teachers. So many in our ward are grad students or spouses, most with young children hard to leave for meetings and most running flat out with work, home and school. Lots of in service could be done online.
Not bureaucratically inclined, at our house we often end church meetings muttering “If I ran the zoo…” But those ideas never even reach deaf ears. They’re uttered and forgotten. Perhaps with Elder Ballard’s prodding, we could amass a good list of specific ways we could innovate to simplify our processes, change existing programs and otherwise better meet everyone’s needs. Think of the positions you hold or have held. I have no doubt this group has some great ideas. Are your wards using email well? What other innovations are working?