Using the Youth Sunday School Curriculum to Train Future Missionaries

I am happy to introduce a new monthly youth Sunday school series at BCC: adapting the youth Sunday school curriculum to train future missionaries.

In my own ward I’m fortunate to teach 17-18 year-olds. Some of them already have turned in their mission papers and are awaiting calls. Others are working on their papers. The Sunday school curriculum adapts itself easily to teaching the youth how to share the gospel both with investigators in a formal setting and with friends. To incorporate missionary training into the material, a lesson plan for April using correlated material as a guideline might look like this:

Discussion questions:

  • What are aspects of the Church do you personally find unique?
  • What does the Church offer you?
  • What is special about it?

Discuss Elder Oaks talk.

Apply it to sharing the gospel:

Of the principles the youth have come up from the talk and discussion, ask, “How could you share these principles with others?”

Using Preach My Gospel, discuss sharing testimony while teaching.

Class members then choose principles discussed at the beginning of the lesson to practice teaching to other class members, keeping in mind the importance of testimony.

Each month BCC invites readers who teach youth Sunday school, or anyone who would like to contribute, to look over the monthly material and send your suggestions to the following questions with Youth SS in the subject line to admin@bycommonconsent.com:

  • As a missionary (or someone sharing the gospel less formally), what questions came up about these principles with investigators that class participants could think about answering?
  •  What are some ways to answer questions about these principles when teaching the gospel?
  • What teaching analogies help investigators understand these principles?

Please send your ideas within the first three weeks of the month. For instance, if you would like to contribute to the June post, please send your ideas by May 20.

Comments

  1. Terrific idea!

  2. I teach the oldest youth Sunday School class in my ward. When my bishop asked me if I would teach it, he said the youth had been drinking milk for years and now it was time for meat – that they had been taught to read a generic flight manual and now they need to learn to fly their own planes. It has been a wonderful experience, and I post each Saturday an outline of the lesson from the previous Sunday on my personal blog.

    I love this idea, mmiles.

  3. Meldrum the Less says:

    One of the concerns that I have heard about lowering the age for missionary service is that youth (boys especially) will not be preparing as seriously for higher education. Taking the SAT for something that ain’t gonna happen for almost 2 years is bad enough. But for something a long 4 years away and when you will miraculously be transformed into this heroic returned missionary? Why study hard in high school or take those AP classes when all they can see is the mission before them, some boys are saying.

    I think one of the answers to this concern is to change missionary preparation. Develop skills in youth useful in both settings and others. My parents viewed a year of college as good missionary preparation. Is it possible to make missions good preparation for college in addition to the more obvious and central role through a different preparation process?

    It appears you are taking steps in this direction?

  4. Meldrum the Less,

    The 17-18 year olds I teach and my own teen and his friends don’t seem to be studying any less. They still take all the hard classes they planned on taking. Further, missionary work doesn’t turn you into a super hero to be sure, but it can teach you good study habits and help you do better in school. It also makes people want to go to college more and gain an education.

    I do think time in the MTC can be useful in learning to be an effective teacher (although sometimes long weeks can drive you crazy in the MTC). The kids in the class today (9 boys and 1 girl) were really engaged and liked practicing teaching and thinking about these things. One of them came up after and was glad to do it because she goes to Christian Club at the high school and has a hard time explaining the church to her peers. She finds SS very useful to help her figure out how to do that. I hope SS will be a little supplement as they prepare to serve.

  5. Meldrum the Less says:

    I thought this was a really important and interesting topic and I was looking forward to more comments. In a last ditch effort to maybe stimulate some discussion on it I would like to pose a complex question, if anyone is still reading.

    Last fall we introduced changes in missionary service that are likely to result in drastic increases in the number serving. What will be the effect on conversion rates? One simplistic way to put a number on it is to take a reliable source such as the May General Conference report, note the number of convert baptisms the previous year and divide it by the number of missionaries serving. In recent years the convert baptisms have generally ranged from 250 to 290 thousand and the number of missionaries has been in the 50-60 thousand range. This gives a church wide annual average baptism per missionary rate of around 5. What effect will the recent changes have on that rate? Possible answers to this question fall along a continuum from really good to not so good. I have selected a few arbitrary reference points to facilitate analysis.

    1. Synergy: 1 + 1 =3. If 50,000 missionaries find 250 thousand people to baptize, then maybe 100,000 missionaries energize each other or amplify their efforts and they will find not just 500,000 but even more. Maybe 600 or 700,000 people to baptize each year. The ratio would increase somewhere from modestly to significantly above 5.

    2. Reap what you sow, no more and no less: Large numbers of missionaries on average put forth a statistical similar amount of effort with similar results. 100,000 missionaries will find somewhere close to 500,000 converts. The ratio would not change far off of 5, beyond statistical chatter, because it describes a fundament characteristic that was not changed by the recent measures taken. (Raising the bar did not move that ratio much if at all).

    3. (Mixture of 2 and 4 with ratio in the 3 to nearly 5 range).

    4. Market saturation: In any given area the church is now usually visible enough that those who might be interested have little difficulty finding it and we have already assigned missionaries to cover most fertile areas. We are already contacting most people who might be interested. 100,000 missionaries will not find that many more people than before. The ratio will decline down to somewhere between 2 and 3.

    5. Own worst enemy: In my personal missionary experience many people came into the church in spite of our antics. Doubling the number of missionaries might result in running more people off than we already do and this could result in fewer baptisms. The ratio would drop to something less than 2 to 2.5. Although unlikely in the opinion of the author, this last reference point is not mathematically impossible.

    This question was inspired by a J. Golden Kimball remark; “We could send half the missionaries home and it would not change the number of baptisms. The trouble is we don’t know which half of the b@$#@rds to send home!” Will anyone else besides me be curiously awaiting the next April conference statistical report when we will see the first result of this grand experiment?

    As to the pertinence of this question to the topic of discussion in the blog, what widespread fundamental improvements in missionary preparation would influence the ratio I have described? Or are other factors, beyond the preparation of the missionary, too great? (Which would include the Will of the Lord).

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