A Lesson Given at a Home Teaching Conference



D. Calvin Andrus

08 January 2006

[Note to readers: This is the text version of the powerpoint briefing. Thus the narrative and transitions in this version are a little jerky. Please bear with me.]


Setting a Context: As an introduction, I would like to present some trend data which describes our ward.


[Note to readers: The following table is presented as six charts in the powerpoint presentation.]

Bishop Hale Before Boundary Change After Change
Month 12/01 03/02 06/02 09/02 12/02 03/03 06/03 09/03 12/03 03/04 06/04 09/04 12/04 03/05 06/05 09/05 12/05
Number of Members 377 412 411 393 401 398 393 402 371 378 357 357 368 394 358 346 329
Number of Familes 175 182 181 174 176 174 175 182 167 166 161 164 170 202 190 191 182
Sacrament Meeting Attend (%) 59 55 52 56 55 55 53 54 47 50 56 49 54 47 48 42 48
Endowed w/Recommend (%) 52 48 60 59 66 70 70 68 74 73 67 72 80 76 76 78 78
Full-Tithe Payers (%)         42       46       45       40
Fams per Active Mel Priest 3.4 3.4 3.5 2.2 2.7 2.5 2.9 3.3 3.6 3.0 2.8 3.2 3.0 3.7 4.9 4.3 4.3
Home Teaching (%) 55 52 37 49 51 44 46 39 49 53 53 46 48 36 30 16 19
Visiting Teaching (%) 90 83 83 90 94 76 87 87 91 90 95 91 95 97 93 95 81

These data represent demographic trends (number of members and families), personal worthiness trends (Temple Recommends and Tithing), activity trends (meeting attendance, home and visiting teaching), and shepherding ratio (families per active priesthood holders). Some observations:

  1. Since the boundary change the number of members had dropped by 100 (only 80 are reflected in the quarterly data).
  2. The percentage of members attending Sacrament Meeting has dropped since the boundary change.
  3. The percentage of endowed with recommends continues to drift upward.
  4. The percentage of full-tithe payers has slipped a little
  5. The shepherding ratio has gone from a low of 2 to a high of 5 families per active melchizedek priesthood holder
  6. The home teaching percentages have dropped dramatically as the shepherding ratio has risen.


Historically, at our best, we have only home taught 50% of the families in the ward. If we are only going to home teach 50%, which 50% should it be?

The 50% for whom home teaching makes the biggest difference in their lives!

Luke 6:32-35

For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend [to them] of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil.

If ye home teach those that home teach you, what thank have ye? But home teach, hoping for no home teacher, and your reward shall be great.

Unfortunately it is not as easy as leaving the 99 for the 1. It is the much more difficult leaving the one half for the other half. Some families will be in the group we leave. This is a sacrifice they make so those who need home teaching more will be home taught.

Who are the half we should be home teaching?

The High Priests and the Elders Quorum are going to review their home teaching assignments and make revisions as needed to adjust to this paradigm.


Now that we know who we should home teach, let's talk about how we home teach. But before we do, I want to give you a quiz consisting of 20 questions in three sets.

Set one: Which of these can we count as home teaching?

  1. When a home teacher can't sync calendars with his companion, so he just takes his wife.
  2. When both companions visit the family together, but don't give a spiritual thought and don't have a prayer.
  3. When both companions stand at the doorstep and give a spiritual message.
  4. When one companion leaves a plate of cookies his wife made on the doorstep at Christmas time.
  5. When the companionship gives a blessing to one of the children in the hospital.

Set two: Which of these can we count as home teaching?

  1. When a companion and his wife go to dinner with the mother and father of the family.
  2. When one companion goes to watch one child's sports event.
  3. When one companion lets all the kids stay at his house for three days, while the mother and father attend an out-of-town funeral.
  4. When the two companions do yard work for the family, but don't leave a spiritual message.
  5. When one companion goes by himself and gives a spiritual message and has a prayer.

Set three: Which of these can we do and stil keep the sabbath day holy?

  1. Watch a football game?
  2. Read the newspaper?
  3. Pick corn?
  4. Kindle fire?
  5. Heal the sick?
  6. Camp at the National Jamboree?
  7. Camp at a district camp-o-ree?
  8. Cook meals?
  9. Write two or more letters?
  10. Erase two or more letters?


According to the Wikipedia Jewish law prohibits doing any form of melachah ("work", plural "melachot") on Shabbat. Melachah does not closely correspond to the English definition of the term "work", nor does it correspond to the definition of the term as used in physics. Rather, it refers to the 39 categories of activity that the Talmud prohibits Jews from engaging in on Shabbat.

   1. Sowing;
   2. Plowing;
   3. Reaping;
   4. Binding sheaves;
   5. Threshing;
   6. Winnowing;
   7. Selecting;
   8. Grinding;
   9. Sifting;
  10. Kneading;
  11. Baking;
  12. Shearing wool;
  13. Washing wool;
  14. Beating wool;
  15. Dyeing wool;
  16. Spinning;
  17. Weaving;
  18. Making two loops;
  19. Weaving two threads;
  20. Separating two threads;
  21. Tying;
  22. Untying;  
  23. Sewing stitches;
  24. Tearing;
  25. Trapping;
  26. Slaughtering;
  27. Flaying;
  28. Tanning;
  29. Scraping hide;
  30. Marking hides;
  31. Cutting hide to shape;
  32. Writing two or more letters;
  33. Erasing two or more letters;
  34. Building;
  35. Demolishing;
  36. Extinguishing a fire;
  37. Kindling a fire;
  38. Putting the finishing touch on an object;
  39. Transporting an object between a private domain and the public domain, or for a distance of 4 cubits within the public domain;

So how did we get from the commandment in Exodus . . .

Exodus 20:8-11 - Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
. . . to the 39 prohibitions in the Talmud . . .

. . . to the explanations for each of the 39 prohibitions?

11 Baking
   a. cooking,
   b. baking,
   c. roasting and
   d. poaching
   e. (frying)
   f. (microwaving)

Smart men, thinking long and hard about the commandment came up with what seemed to be reasonable interpretations. These seemed useful for those who did not have The Spirit to guide them. Over time, using the wisdom and logic of the earth, the interpretations were nit-picked to death. The spiritual life had been reasoned and debated out of the commandment.

Mark 2:23, 24, 27 - And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

Matthew 12:10-12 - And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.


So when we ask ourselves questions like, "Is it ok to read the newspaper on the sabbath?" We have already fallen into the Pharisaic trap of reasoning the life out of the Sabbath, before we even get to the answer. Such questions evidence a Telestial understanding of the Sabbath.

So when we ask ourselves questions like, "Does it count as home teaching if I go by myself without my companion?" We have already fallen into the Pharisaic trap of reasoning the life out of the Home Teaching, before we even get to the answer. Such questions evidence a Telestial understanding of the Home Teaching.

Asking such questions is a great temptation for Elder's Quorum Presidents or High Priest Group Leaders or Bishops to become modern-day Pharisees. They would love nothing more than to split the hairs and issue a myriad of conditional definitions of when a particular behavior counts or doesn't count as home teaching.

So how did we get from:

D&C 20:42-54 - teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties, to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking
to wondering if I can count it as home teaching if I attend a sports event in which one of the children of one of my families participates?

In being pharisaical about what things count as home teaching, we have forgotten that probably the most important calling of a home teacher is to "be with and strengthen" the family. What does it mean to be with?

Even the most pharisaical among us would probably agree that 10 minutes a month does not constitute "being with." I ask that each home teacher, several times this year, take advantage of pre-existing opportunities or create opportunities to "be with" the families they home teach. The Spirit will guide you and help make it happen. In doing so, will you fulfill your true role as home teacher. In addition, you and your families will be blessed in the specific ways you need blessings.


So what can we do and keep the Sabbath day holy?

That is the Celestial view of Sabbath.

So what counts as home teaching?

That is the Celestial view of Home Teaching.


In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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