Skip to Content

We Have To Raise The Bar On Ministering

We Have To Raise The Bar On Ministering

It happens to my lawn every summer, yet every time I doubt my intuition as to why it’s happening.

You might relate to looking at your lawn and realizing that, all of the sudden, there are grey spots that have developed.

What I tend to do is forget about them until a week later when the grass appears to be all but dead.

Then I check the sprinklers, and realize, for whatever reason, they had been turned off and need to be turned on again.

Bottom line is this – green grass needs to be watered or pretty soon it won’t be green anymore.

Recently, a friend Becca posed the question to some people online asking for their comments on ministering, and whether she though that we have taken the charge to care for others in a higher and holier way seriously.

One of Becca’s friends responded with the following comment:

It was hard for me to figure out exactly what to do. Before, I knew exactly what to do – go to their homes and teach a lesson once a month, etc. I do like this way better- that we are supposed to tailor it to their needs. That makes more sense. Some people don’t need a visit.

I appreciate these comments and for the most part, I agree with it. We definitely need to tailor the experience to meet their needs, but I do want to challenge one thing that was said and offer my own thoughts. The statement that “Some people don’t need a visit” is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves, and the truth is that everyone needs a visit, but perhaps every month isn’t realistic or necessary.

I keep coming back to my green grass that suddenly isn’t so green.

There are families in our wards and stakes that are just like that green grass. They need to be nourished with living water in their homes but they are not getting it. While we may claim they don’t need a visit in their homes, which causes us to stop trying to get in their homes, do you know what is getting into their homes? I’ll give you three things:

  • Pornography
  • Social Media Influencers
  • Philosophies of Men Mingled with Scriptures

A dear family recently let a friend know that they aren’t sure where they stand with their faith and have stepped back from attending church and wanted to be released from their callings. You know what had never happened in their home in the 3 years they’d been in that ward? Never once did someone come into their home to check on them spiritually and teach them about Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel Library under the topic of ministering it teaches:

Ministering is Christlike caring for others. It is motivated by our desire to follow the commandment to love our neighbor and includes serving people out of concern for their spiritual and temporal well-being.

The Savior set an example of ministering during His life. He “smiled at, talked with, walked with, listened to, made time for, encouraged, taught, fed, and forgave” (Jean B. Bingham, “Ministering as the Savior Does,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 104). The Savior asks us to follow His example to “love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

I think as a church we have upped our game in ministering when it comes to loving more as the Savior did, but I feel that some have taken a step back when it comes to teaching and feeding the sheep as the Savior did.

Consider these four questions:

  1. When is the last time you shared a message from the scriptures or the living prophets in the home of someone you minister to?
  2. When is the last time ministers came into your home to share a message from the scriptures or the living prophets?
  3. When is the last time you asked someone you minister to how they are doing spiritually?
  4. When is the last time a minister asked you how you are doing spiritually?

In a recent training in the Utah area, a member of the Area Presidency mentioned that one of the unintended consequences in the shift from home teaching to ministering was the people, especially in Utah, have stopped making visits in the home altogether.

In a November 15, 2023 broadcast, the Utah Area Presidency specifically invited each ministering companionship to “regularly visit your assigned members in their homes. Pray with them. Teach them. ‘Lift up the hands which hang down.'”

ministering

Another recent focus in the Utah area has been to emphasize that, for young men, the next step on the covenant path after baptism is to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, not go on a mission.

Now, obviously, this was not done to deemphasize the importance of serving a mission, but was done to emphasize the importance of the priesthood covenant, which if accepted, is a promise of a lifetime of magnifying whatever calling you have been given.

As we have worked with the youth in our ward who are preparing for missions – we’ve tried to shift the focus to preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. We spend time with these youth visiting others in their homes and teaching them that if they are to truly magnify their Melchizedek Priesthood, they will spend much time in the homes of  others for the rest of their life. As Elder Holland was once heard saying, “Jesus didn’t have an office.” He spent his time ministering to them in the streets, in their places of employment and worship, and most importantly, in their homes.

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches in Section 20:

46 The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament,

47 And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties

Visiting the home of each member and exhorting them to pray is a priesthood duty, exemplified even in the earliest days of the restored Church.

Below is a journal entry of William Cahoon, who was assigned to visit the Prophet Joseph Smith and Emma Smith. Here is an except of William’s journal:

Being young, only about seventeen years [eighteen] of age, I felt my weakness in visiting the Prophet and his family in the capacity of teacher. I almost felt like shrinking from duty. Finally I went to his door and knocked, and in a minute the Prophet came to the door. I stood there trembling, and said to him, “Brother Joseph, I have come to visit you in the capacity of a teacher, if it is convenient for you.”
He said, “Brother William, come right in, I am glad to see you; sit down in that chair there and I will go and call my family in.” They soon came in and took seats. He then said, “Brother William, I submit myself and family into your hand,” and then took his seat.
“Now Brother William,” said he, “ask all the questions you feel like.”
By this time all my fears and trembling had ceased, and I said, “Brother Joseph, are you trying to live your religion?”
He answered, “Yes.”
“I then said, “Do you pray in your family?”
He said, “Yes.”
“Do you teach your family the principles of the gospel?”
He replied, “Yes, I am trying to do it.”
“Do you ask a blessing on your food?”
He answered, “Yes.”
“Are you trying to live in peace and harmony with all your family?”
He said that he was.
I then turned to Sister Emma, his wife, and said, “Sister Emma, are you trying to live your religion? Do you teach your children to obey their parents? Do you try to teach them to pray?” To all these questions, she answered, “Yes, I am trying to do so.”
I then turned to Joseph and said, “I am now through with my questions as a teacher; and now if you have any instructions to give, I shall be happy to receive them.”
He said, “God bless you, Brother William; and if you are humble and faithful, you shall have power to settle all difficulties that may come before you in the capacity of a teacher.”
I then left my parting blessing upon him and his family, as a teacher, and took my departure.

(From “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith: Elder William Farrington Cahoon,” Juvenile Instructor 27 (August 15, 1892):

Is this not a beautiful example of ministering? It’s obviously not a perfect one, but it does show that William did “visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.”

Can we do the same? If I may, can I leave you with two small invitations? Make an effort to be in the homes of those you minister to. See how they are doing spiritually. Love them, and TEACH them from the scriptures and words of living prophets. There is a famine in the land, and our people need the word of God more than ever. Secondly, can you invite your ministers to your home? Let them know you would like them to share a message with your family. Give them a specific topic that you feel would bless your family.

I leave you with the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland who spoke when the adjustment to home teaching was made. In his talk, Be With and Strengthen Them, he said:

We will continue to visit homes as possible, but local circumstances such as large numbers, long distances, personal safety, and other challenging conditions may preclude a visit to every home every month. As the First Presidency counseled years ago, do the best you can. In addition to whatever schedule you establish for actual visits, that calendar can be supplemented with telephone calls, written notes, texts, emails, video chats, conversations at Church meetings, shared service projects, social activities, and a host of possibilities in the world of social media. However, I should stress that this expansive new view does not include the sorry statement I recently saw on an automobile bumper sticker. It read, “If I honk, you’ve been home taught.” Please, please, brethren (the sisters would never be guilty of that—I speak to the brethren of the Church), with these adjustments we want more care and concern, not less.

May we raise our efforts to minister like the Savior did, starting in homes.

Shana Hamblin

Saturday 6th of January 2024

Yes the lie that I have heard given to me. You don’t need my visit. Yes Yes I do. It means you care enough about me to come to my home and help me take stock of where I am at, spiritually, emotionally, physically etc. I try to minister to my sisters the same way. Don’t ask me after Sacrament when I need to hurry to teach Primary “How are you doing?” When my daughter passed away a week ago.

David Wood

Saturday 6th of January 2024

So often this subject is taught. It's a joke really. I keep with the Gospel of Jesus Christ because I know it is true. Ministering and fellowship are so diluted . I can understand why some disconnect from the CHURCH. I notice the " fruits" of the gospel are advertised much but on a local level so much is neglected. Many of the older members are simply forgotten. My blood boils. Nevertheless I'll keep with it with the hope one day leaders will " DO SOMETHING" !

Friday 5th of January 2024

In my opinion your article is spot on. I took the missionaries with me to visit my ministering families in December and had the most amazing spiritual experiences. Tears were shed for no apparent reason, other than the Spirit was testifying that we all were in the right place doing what we should be doing. All of my families are active and none of them would think they need help, and may not, but the purpose is the Saviors purpose, and that is to minister.

Robin Albritton

Friday 5th of January 2024

I appreciate the thought put into this article. I can tell you from personal experience we don't need a monthly visit. If we need help, we ask for it. How do we know when we need help? We pray about it. I have a sister that does not want anyone come into her home. It has been hard to go from being "told to go every month and having a message alrealdy there for us to give." Now on a quarterly basis its, "Do whatever the Spirit tells you." In a way the brethren are encouraging us to be more self-reliant in how we handle our brothers and sisters. I am sure we need to do more, but it takes time for some to go from being hand held in what we do and say to autonomy.

Kevin

Thursday 11th of January 2024

@Sandy, What I noticed is that a lot of people talked about what "counts" as ministering, what is not required to do, what can we do to help others? A lot of emphasize was put on the DO's and DONT's. But in my view we minister not to DO something, but to make sure that everyone is visited, watched over, cared for, and/or supported on their journey on the covenant path. That we don't let anyone wonder around, get lost or feels out of place, like they don't belong there. I sometimes think and say, I don't care too much about people leaving the church because they don't believe in certain doctrines. I do hate people leaving the church, because they misunderstood something, felt alone or abandoned, felt like there wasn't a place for them, mistreated etc. Because that means that I (or we) failed in our duty/calling to strengthen those around us (and thus in our call to minister)

In addition, we also minister to help the bishop watch over his flock, so he doesn't have to check in with everyone, but knows who needs his limited time and resources because the members know who needs that little extra support that ministers can't provide (like financial support, relational support etc).

Sandy

Friday 5th of January 2024

@Ben Arkell, I have been trying to teach this message in relief society. Many felt like nobody needed to visit and nobody needed visits when the new program came out. However, I feel it is even more important to visit or members on person than ever before in order to develop real relationships and build trust and learn to know one another. How can we serve those we do not know? There is nothing that can substitute for being face to face and touching or hugging those who need that touch so desperately. Thank you for reminding us to do more and do better in fulfilling our sacred duties to love and care for those in our keep.

Ben Arkell

Friday 5th of January 2024

Thanks for your comment! In your opinion, what is the purpose of the visit? I would agree that a monthly visit in some instances isn't necessary. What I think is vital that seems to be missing is a concern for the spiritual welfare of others and a proactive manner of teaching the word of God in homes.

Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

Ive been an active member all my life, and from the comments in the article, it is evident that the sisters who made a few of them, have not gone to God and received revelation as to how to best serve the sisters. . I am elderly and could have used some help with my yard etc, and since the church came out with the inspired ministering program, I can count in one hand the times I have been approached. I am not a negative person, I am just reporting my experience with it. Most of the time, I have not known who it was. One time I looked on the computer and found out it was the wife of one in the bishopric, and the other sister was in the primary presidency...Just sayin. Sometimes a hug in the hallway or a smile goes a long way.

Ben Arkell

Friday 5th of January 2024

Thank you for your comment. I wish there was more care given to help you with your needs.