Several years ago while serving as elders quorum president for three university wards combined for the summer, I faced the challenge of motivating our quorum members to wake up early enough on a Sunday morning to attend nine o’clock priesthood meeting. After consulting with my counselors, we decided the best thing we could do was to ensure that the lessons were worth listening to.

Rather than call teachers, we chose to ask various quorum members to teach week by week. To help them prepare the best lessons possible, we prepared the following teaching tips and asked them to follow them. This list was revised slightly for another quorum a few years later, and its principles apply to teaching any class in the church.

Teaching Elders Quorum Lessons
Vermont Third Ward, Orem East Stake

First of all, thanks for your willingness to serve. Both you and our quorum members will be blessed by your lesson and preparation.

Here is a list of suggestions and counsels from the scriptures that will assist you in your preparations and in bringing the Spirit to the quorum in order that your lesson will edify, increase faith, and help quorum members to determine to bring their lives ever more into line with gospel principles and find the guaranteed blessings of the Lord’s promises and covenants.

Have a purpose in your lesson. A purpose should be more specific than to have a lesson on reading the scriptures. Examples of specific purposes include: motivating quorum members to take advantage of the peace and blessings that result from proper prayer and scripture study, persuading quorum members to read at least one chapter per day or fifteen minutes from the scriptures, helping quorum members to commit to participating more fully in government, to study the Ensign monthly, to treat their parents or others with greater love and respect, or to bless the lives of their home teachees through lessons, prayers, and awareness of needs.

Make this purpose clear to quorum members. A clear purpose will help them to understand and remember exactly what to do once the lesson is over. You might accomplish this by writing the purpose on the board or repeating it various times throughout the lesson. If you only make quorum members feel good during your lesson and they do not remember the lesson’s purpose, you lose most of the possibility of having any impact on their lives.

Tell personal experiences that illustrate your purpose. Stories are more easily remembered than abstractions. They help put the valuable abstractions into concrete terms which are more easily applied to quorum members’ lives.

I have long since forgotten most of the quorum lessons I have attended, but still vividly recall stories like this one: a caucasian elder was leaving a rough neighborhood of another ethnicity when a man stopped him and said, “I just want to ask you one question. What color was Jesus?” The answer is, of course, obvious. Everyone knows that Jesus was Jewish. But the elder moved beyond the obvious answer and instead jumped to a far more important principle and answered, “I don’t care if He was green. He died for my sins and yours and I love Him.” The man nodded his head and conceded, “Good answer.”

Commit quorum members to accept the lesson’s purpose. This may be done in many ways. You may ask them to verbally accept a challenge. You may ask them to take a moment and decide for themselves. Remember that commitment is an important part of the missionary commitment pattern. Never confuse the commitment pattern with the manipulation pattern. The commitment pattern is designed to steer an individuals actual understandings and desires toward a good, healthy goal. Its purpose is not just to get them to agree to whatever you want them to say or do.

Center your lesson on Gospel principles. While many fascinating aspects of life may relate somewhat to the Gospel, specific Gospel principles are those that will most powerfully bring all people unto Christ, and that should be our primary goal in all the church. Gospel principles include faith, love, obedience, repentance, service, righteous leadership, eternal marriage, temple work, humility, forgiveness, eternity, salvation, love and hundreds more. Self esteem is an example of an extremely important facet of our lives that is not a Gospel principle, although it is a by-product of living the Gospel well and may be mentioned appropriately in a lesson. Perhaps one centered on confidence before God, an important Gospel principle (see D&C 121:45, for example).

Prepare your lesson in advance. This gives you time to think and work it out, pray for the Spirit, and build your testimony of the principles you teach. If you have a currently-burning testimony of the principles you teach, the Spirit will accompany your lesson that much more strongly and persuasively.

Use the scriptures. The scriptures are one of our most powerful tools for bringing the Spirit to our quorum meetings and thus improving our quality of life. Using scriptures also helps to ensure that you’re teaching Gospel principles. Remember that the General Authorities have encouraged us to make good use of the conference Ensign throughout the six months between sessions as well.

If you can help in our goal to help quorum members get to know each other, we invite you to do so. Use their names when calling on them and responding to their comments. You may sometimes ask quorum members to share personal experiences which will help others get to know them better.

Quorum lessons often get good participation. Many hands will go up, often with valuable points. But remember that you are the instructor, and you have the calling and responsibility to decide, under the guidance of the Spirit (or at least according to your wisdom and preparation), when the lesson should move on to more important points. When this time comes, don’t be afraid to say that we must move on.

Furthermore, you are under no responsibility to call on the first person to raise their hand. If there’s someone who hasn’t had a chance to participate and you would like them to have it, or if there’s someone who consistently brings depth and insight with his comments, you may call on them even if they have not raised their hand.

Sometimes you can call on noone at all and say you’ll get to them in a minute or that you need to move on to the next part of the lesson. Use tactful phrases like “I appreciate everyone’s willingness to participate and contribute to the lesson, but…”

Another important element to help bring the Spirit to your lessons is your own humility. Contrary to popular belief, humility does not make you weak, it makes you more powerful than you can imagine. Furthermore, quorum members who sense your humility and authenticity will lower their walls and open their hearts more easily to your message.

We hope you will have a positive experience teaching. Thank you again for your willingness to serve. Please feel free to let us know of any way we can help you.

Sincerely,

Rob Cox, President
Shaun Roundy, 1st Counselor
John Boyle, 2nd Counselor
Jeff Hullinger, Secretary