Home Teaching New Converts

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In this month’s Ensign, there is an article on creating effective elders quorums. In the article, there is a reference to an address given by L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was given in January 2003 worldwide leadership training meeting.

He spoke of small units in the Church. The counsel also fits when a home teaching base is small. Active home teachers should be assigned according to need, focusing first on new converts. Total coverage may not be achieved for some time. Elder Perry’s counsel was: “If, as priesthood leaders, you only help your members keep their covenants with the Lord, you have done measurably what you are expected to do.” (p. 33)

So if the Church gave training to ward leaders to make sure home teaching was focused first on new converts, and thereafter making assignments based on need, why do ward and stake leaders still make such unattainable goals as 100% home teaching?

It cannot be because they want to improve home teaching because such goals/programmes never (or at least rarely) result in any sustained improvement.

I can see the wisdom of the Church trying to change the focus of home teaching from quantity to quality. Something like this, if actually practised, can do a lot to change the perception of home teachers that home teaching is less about something that they have to do and more about being something that nourishes others.

16 thoughts on “Home Teaching New Converts

  1. My former Bishop totally revamped the home teaching program in our ward. The short of it was that most of us were companions with our wives. We were assigned to families instead of me visiting some families and my wife visiting others. We were told that we only needed to visit active families every other month as long as we called them or talked to them at church each month. The less active and new member families were to be the focus. I still never got my home teaching done, but I thought it was a great idea.

  2. there is no reason why home and visiting teaching visits can not be 100% every month. No one is that busy that they can not get out every month. When we lived in Regina I held a full time job, worked 2 part time jobs had 5 kids and a husband who worked out of town 90% of the month. On top of that I had to contend with my companion’s schedule and the times of our sisters we saw.

    Home teaching is part of your priesthood repsonsibilities and stewardship. Why couldn’t they get their office of their respective priesthood be put on probabtion if they didn’t get their HT done?

    My visiting teacher up till last summer had been mime for over 4 years. She never missed a single month. There were months she had no companion cause she bagged out. But this sister also had a full and a part time job and came to my home at least once a month at many times twice. Each and every week she called me and most months I would get a card in my snail mail from her.

    Changing the perspecitve of quality instead of quantity isn’t going to get the numbers up any higher. Our bishop doesn’t even do his HT. The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.

    I have heard SO MANY times from the priesthood in different wands that I have been in, that women can get out to doo their visiting teaching as they aren’t as busy as men are.

    Uh huh… sure…

  3. “there is no reason why home and visiting teaching visits can not be 100% every month.”

    Actually, there is at least one. Some people don’t want home or visiting teachers. Most wards have them and as long as they exist, 100% home teaching isn’t attainable.

    “Changing the perspecitve of quality instead of quantity isn’t going to get the numbers up any higher.”

    That’s not the point. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about making sure those who need the visits most are receiving them.

  4. I completely agree, Kim. When we lived in Trenton, New Jersey, we were one of the very few active families in the area. We had faithful HT who came every month. We appreciated it, but we didn’t need it. Most of the inactive families weren’t getting visited, and I would have been happy to have fewer HT visits if those families could have been visited at all.

    It wasn’t a matter of being too busy. There simply weren’t enough men in the ward to visit everyone on a regular basis.

  5. Got to keep everyone in line, breaking down those personal boundaries, checking up on their backsliding; after all, it’s not about an individual’s relationship with God, it’s about keeping that tithing stream coming…don’t you ever wonder what type of organization you’re in?

  6. My faith is rock solid that Jesus Christ is the Savior, and that the Church serves itself as an organization, not as an enabler of individual salvation.

  7. “My faith is rock solid…that the Church serves itself as an organization…”

    What an odd thing in which to place one’s faith. Personally, I have placed my faith in Jesus being my Saviour.

  8. “Actually, there is at least one. Some people don’t want home or visiting teachers. Most wards have them and as long as they exist, 100% home teaching isn’t attainable”

    yes I understand that you can never have 100% as there are those, although very very few, members who do NOT want any contact. But I am talking about 100% of those that are not in that category.

    “That’s not the point. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about making sure those who need the visits most are receiving them”

    and who gets to decide who needs the visits the most? EQ President? the Bishop? the members themselves? Just because a family or individual is very active does not mean they do not “need” a visit.

    For example, there is a family in our ward, have callings. members for long time, very active etc.. she was just put in hospital this week for severe case of anorexia/bulemia and severe depression. It was through a “normal” home teaching visit that one of the home teachers, who happens to work in the medical field, noticed very red lines in her eyes when he went to shake her hand. Combined with a very noticeable weight loss in a short period of time he approached the subject of anorexia. She broke down and admitted what she had been doing to lose 85 pounds in 3 months.

    Now if this “choosing” who needs visits the most such as inactives etc was in place, this family would have been left to fend for themselves because to the outside eye this was an active family and they didn’t need a visit. Now would this information about this sister have come out on its own at a later date? Who knows.

    But what I do know is if the home teaching program is changed to one of visiting only the needy well all I can say is that would be a very sad day for me.

  9. “very very few, members who do NOT want any contact.”

    True. But I am not talking about those who want absolutely no contact. I am talking about those who do not want home/visiting teachers. There is a difference and the latter is a much bigger number.

    “and who gets to decide who needs the visits the most?”

    The Ward Council.

    Your example is an isolated incident that cannot be used to say that overall the change in direction is wrong. There are many occasions where active home teachers completely miss any problems with the families they visit.

    “But what I do know is if the home teaching program is changed to one of visiting only the needy well all I can say is that would be a very sad day for me.”

    As compared to what there is now? How is assigning home teachers to only 30% (an arbitrary figure representing new converts and so forth) of the ward members and visiting 100% of those assigned different from assigning 100% of the ward members and visiting only 30% of them?

  10. The problem is that home teaching has always in my opinion was about numbers. Ever since my wife and I have graduated from college and gone to a regular family ward in our are we have received a total of 0 home teaching visits. It took the Elder’s quorum leadership almost a year before they assigned me families to visit and someone to visit my family. I had to ask at least once a month to be assigned someone to visit at the smae time volunteering to accompany anyone lacking a willing companion. Meanwhile I keep hearing at priesthood meetings how the lack of 100% home teaching every month is unacceptable and the effort needs to be increased. I have to agree that the impact of home teaching would be greater if we focus on less active or new convert families rather than doing a lousy job of trying to visit everyone including those who make no effort to do their own home teaching.

  11. I don’t think the problem lies in having too many families for the men to get out to HT everyone, the problem lies in the men not getting out period. Changing their beats to go from say 4 families to 1 or 2 families is not going to change their attitude about home teaching. If men don’t already have a personal testimony of HTing they still aren’t going to be going out after this change happens if it does.

    If we can’t get our Leaders to be excited and be an example to the others to get the work done then how on earth can they expect it to be done? If the Bishop and EQ Presidency and the HP Presidency don’t get out to get their beats visited the rest of the ward aren’t going to see a need either.

    Our missionairies were just here for Easter dinner and we talked about this very subject. That the newly converted and less active are NOT being visited. I truly believe that they still aren’t going to be HT when/if the change gets implemented.

    An example is friends of ours who were probably the worse housekeepers I had ever encountered, kept saying if they could just get a bigger house they could keep it clean. I used to say if you can’t keep a small house clean how are you going to keep a bigger house clean? You will just have more room to spread your things and get more things. Sure enough that is exactly what happened. They got a bigger house a huge one in fact, and a year later it was just as gross as their small one had been.

    If the men aren’t getting out now they still won’t get out afterwards. Do they need to have a system in place so that if you don’t get your beats done you get “disciplined”? Probably not as that takes away from their free agency. This isn’t mandatory. How do we hold them accountable? Your guess is a good as mine I suppose.

    Another example is our family itself. When we moved to this ward 5 1/2 years ago, we were assigned HTer’s right away. The 2 came faithfully for a year then one of them moved away to another ward. We saw no one for 3.5 years. A year ago or so we got assigned a new HT. Just one, as he still had the same companion that our original one had. This other one had been one of our HT the entire 5 odd years that we have been here. He came those 2 years because he had companions that cared about their families enough to get out. In between he had 3 other companions who never even called.

    Now I am not one to be silent in the ward. Ever. Well ok in Sacrament I usually am. And I would go to the Bishop and say who are our HT’s? I would go to these men and say hi we were wondering when we could expect you? And I would always get the same answer well I will have to check my schedule and get back to you.

    Whats the difference between the original HT, the one we have now and the 3 that were in between? Personal testimony. I don’t hold the Priesthood I am not even a man so I have no idea what you guys can do to fix this. But I do know lessening the number of families to just the needy isn’t going to fix the problem. That is just going to be a bandaid on a severed artery.

  12. “But I do know lessening the number of families to just the needy isn’t going to fix the problem.”

    It is if you assign the needy to the ones who are doing their hometeaching currently.

  13. yes you are certainly right on that aspect Kim… but how does that teach the rest to get it done? How does it teach the other men how important a calling this is? They are going to be rewarded with not having to go out and that is just wrong :(

  14. “How does it teach the other men how important a calling this is?”

    It shows them that home teaching isn’t just about socialising. It’s about being steward and shepherding; something they don’t realise now.

    The current set-up has not made a positive difference in teaching priesthood bearers their duties. If they aren’t going to perform their duties in either scenario, then we should make the best out of it by making sure that at least the most needy are getting visited.

    “They are going to be rewarded with not having to go out”

    But they don’t go out now.

    I should point out that the new emphasis is about switching priorities—making sure the new converts and the like are visited first. If resources allow, I do not see any reason not to make assignments to active families. If a ward has 40 active members of the elders quorum, they certainly won’t need to assign all of the members to visit the new converts.

  15. I wish that I could have been in on this conversation earlier. I doubt that this message will even be read, however I feel I should put in my two bits.

    I have been probably about a 90-95% hometeacher for the past 10 years. I have served as a ward missionary as well as in various Elders quorum presidencies. I am currently the Elders quorum president in my ward.

    I think that both of you, Kim and Smiles, have brought up valid points, of which we as an Elders Quorum Presidency and Ward Counsel struggle with on a monthly basis.

    As we have tried different options over the years, it seems that the most effective solutions “for us” have been as follows.

    First of all, you have to have leaders that are willing to do the work and set the example. Just as, and in many cases more, important to having a good EQ Presidency, the ward mission leader/missionaries can play a critical role in helping to take care of the extremely important visits to new and less active members.

    Our Bishop called 10 ward missionaries, of which 5 were extremely active members. He informed them that he has invested more in the ward missionary program than any other organization.

    Ward missionaries committed to two days each month in which they could go and help visit new members and families that hometeachers were having a hard time visiting. This information was reported each week to the bishop during ward counsel and in most cases could count as a home/visiting teaching visit.

    As an EQ Presidency, we have focused on consistenly starting to do PPI’s monthly,(a program that has, until recently, been non-existent). Of course we don’t try to make it seem like a sit down interview each month. It is more of just a friendly conversation in which we try to get a commitment out of each of the hometeachers to visit their families. During these interviews, we also try to get a feeling for which families would be a little easier for them to visit. It is always easier to make the initial HT visit with someone that you already know, or wouldn’t mind visiting. The handfull, (or less) that faithfully HT each month, and that generally don’t have a difficult time putting themselves in front of new faces, are assigned some of the more difficult families. (In many cases even if the hometeacher can’t get a hold of these, the ward missionaries may have been able to catch them.)

    Although this definitely isn’t a perfect solution, our numbers have consistenly gone up. And although many of you say it’s not about the numbers. To me it is. I love looking into an Elders Quorum meeting that has almost doubled in size over the past couple years, in large part due to less-active elders that have recently started coming because of the continuous efforts of the ward.

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