You don’t know John is in the New Testament?

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Yesterday was my first class as Gospel Doctrine instructor. I think it went well. We discussed lesson 12: “The Gathering of My People”, focusing on the qualities we must have before we can be gathered with the Lord’s people. We had lots of participation and I think some things said caused some people to ponder what they hadn’t considered before.

That being said, one thing bugged me.

At one point, we were turning to the eighth chapter of Amos. After asking everyone to turn to it, I mentioned Amos was in the Old Testament. Not long after, we turned to John 17, which I mentioned was in the New Testament.

At this point, I said something to the effect that I guess I can assume that if they are in the Gospel Doctrine class, they should already know that John is in the New Testament.

A handful of persons responded by saying it’s not a safe assumption and asked for the page number for the verse we were going to read.

In my opinion though, if you’re twice my age—especially if you have been a member all your life—and in the Gospel Doctrine class, you should know that John is in the New Testament; you should know that Amos is in the Old Testament.

I don’t think I can expect class members to know that Amos is after Joel and before Obadiah, but I do not think it is unreasonable that they should know it’s in the latter part of the Old Testament somewhere between Ezekiel and Zephaniah. At the very least, they should know it’s in the Old Testament.

I don’t think I can expect class members to know that John is the last of the four Gospels, but I do not think it is unreasonable that they should know it discusses Jesus’s ministry, and is thus at the start of the New Testament. At the very least, they should know it’s in the New Testament.

If you don’t know Amos is in the Old Testament and John is in the New Testament, I have to question how?Ǭ� in-depth your scripture study has been.

If you need someone to tell you the page number of a passage because you either don’t know about the table of contents at the front of your bible or you don’t want to be bothered, I have to question who serious your scripture study has been.

Seriously, if this comes up in my next class, it’s not going to be pretty.

36 thoughts on “You don’t know John is in the New Testament?

  1. If you don’t know Amos is in the Old Testament and John is in the New Testament, I have to question how in-depth your scripture study has been.

    Do ya think?

  2. In our ward, there is no Gospel Essentials class, so the investigators and new folks meet with the former seminary teachers and stake presidents in GD class. There is of course, a huge gap in experience! In that case, offering a page number will just move your class along.

    That said, I’m often amzed at how shallow the long time ones can be, as if they may have heard that doctrine one time in passing…knowledge is an acre wide and 1/2 an inch deep.

    1. We do have a Gospel Essentials class, and I am starting to wonder if the treatments of it as a class for new members and recently activated members is the right approach. I wonder if it provides a stigma that discourages people who need it from attending.

  3. I wouldn’t disagree with you – but would caution you in your appraoch. If you were hard on the people that don’t know those basic things they might start to be leery to attend gospel doctrine – and what’s the point of that?
    Sadly enough, for many people, scripture study is not something done regularly. Truthfully, my kids probably know more about the scriptures than some adults I know – but as long as people are learning they’re moving in the right direction and should be commended.

  4. Please be patient with those you serve. You may be right about their level of study, but if you are right, does it matter? Entice and persuade them to study the scriptures as much as you can. Make the scriptures come alive. It may be that reading is very difficult for them. It can literally take some people a whole day to get through a whole paragraph when it would take most of us only seconds. Some may not take time to read, some may not enjoy reading scripture at all. You can help change that! You are in a wonderful, exciting calling and have the opportunity to help people begin a love affair with the scriptures. When you prepare your lesson, quickly look to see what page your scripture references are on and then when you announce the reference in class you can just go ahead and give the page number with it without anyone having to ask. That would probably help the confidence of those in the class and help banish any feelings of shame they might have for not being as familiar/learned as other class members. Ideally, everyone would be well-read and prepared for class, but that’s not where you are. If you knew all their private struggles and challenges, you might find yourself amazed that they showed up at all. I hope this doesn’t sound like an indictment of you; I’ve had the same exact feelings when teaching too, only to find myself humbled later.

  5. I’m not advocating being hard on people. I was being a bit harsh in my last sentence but somewhat tongue-in-cheek; I wouldn’t actually go ballistic in class.

    But I do think that if people are in Gospel Doctrine class, they should at least know John is the New Testament and Amos is in the Old. I’m not asking them to have the scriptures memorized, but this is really basic stuff.

  6. I’m unaware of any sort of pre-requisite list for GD class. Is there one? If not, maybe your calling is to teach to the least among your class members.

  7. Or my calling is to teach to everyone in the class.

    Exactly. Teaching to the least of everyone in the class will essentially teach one person something and everyone else nothing. Then the next week there will be fewer people in class to teach (nothing) to. There has to be something to be said for people learning about the Gospel in more places than church (like home for instance).

  8. There has to be something to be said for people learning about the Gospel in more places than church (like home for instance).

    Exactly.

    My stance is that Gospel Doctrine should be a place to get together to discuss things we studied that week. In fact, that’s how I started my lesson yesterday: I asked everyone for feedback on what they learned the past week while they had studied the reading assignments. We spent about 15 minutes discussing their thoughts. I also made it clear that I was going to be asking this question at the start of every class.

    Sure I had some specific points to being up yesterday, but I tried to guide the discussion to cover them.

    I honestly don’t think Gospel Doctrine class is a place to go so you don’t have to read your scriptures. And that’s not going to be what my class will be. If the bishop wanted me to give a talk, he would have called me as a sacrament speaker.

    In my last PPI with the bishop as EQP, he mentioned that as a bishopric, they have a goal to stretch each ward member this year. At this point, I knew I was going to get a new calling, but I didn’t know what it would be. When I asked the bishop if it would stretch me, he said it would probably stretch others more than it would me.

    I guess he expects me to stretch the class members. I just have to find a way to do it without offending anyone or coming off as being prideful.

  9. From the Sunday School section of LDS.org:

    Under the direction of the ward Sunday School presidency, a Sunday School teacher has the following responsibilities:

    ∙ Prepare and teach inspiring Sunday School lessons using the scriptures and Church-approved curriculum materials.
    ∙ Show love and sincere concern for each class member.
    ∙ Encourage each member to attend and participate in class.
    ∙ Make sure the classroom has a reverent atmosphere where class members feel comfortable and ready to learn.
    ∙ Complete the Teaching the Gospel course and participate in teacher orientation meetings and counseling with leaders.

    I think that loving each individual, no matter how snarky they can be in class, can go a long way to encouraging people to “stretch” and will help create the reverent atmosphere. Perhaps you have some examples you can draw on as EQP when all you could do was love someone, and in the end it made all the difference.

    I’m reminded of the demonstration lesson that Elder Holland led in a Worldwide Training Broadcast a couple of years ago. I get the feeling that if someone were to correct him the way you were corrected, he would likely lovingly smile and possibly say, “You’re right, sister(or brother), I’ll try to help out by providing the page number as I find it myself.”

    There are a few other things that come to my mind as I think of the participants in your class and their reluctance (resistance) to your suggestion at scriptural self-reliance, but they may or may not be relevant to the situation, and the best direction you can get at this point is from the Spirit.

    Best wishes. I’ll be praying for you Kim.

    1. I think that loving each individual, no matter how snarky they can be in class, can go a long way to encouraging people to “stretch” and will help create the reverent atmosphere.

      Agreed.

      the best direction you can get at this point is from the Spirit.

      It’s a good thing I have three more Sundays, including conference and a fast Sunday. :)

  10. You will look like a total heel if you even so much as point at the underachievers in your class. Blog about the surprises all you want, but teach to the middle and be gracious to everyone. No one is going to your class to figure out how stupid they are.

    Be gracious, be gracious.

  11. Carol

    He has no intention of pointing out underachievers. He is, and will be gracious to all.

  12. No one is going to your class to figure out how stupid they are.

    Likewise, no one coming to my class will find out how stupid they are. In fact, not once did I say above that people are stupid if they don’t know that John is in the New Testament.

    You will look like a total heel if you even so much as point at the underachievers in your class.

    I certainly won’t single out anyone. If I bring it up at all, it will be generally.

  13. “teach to the middle”

    Teaching to the middle promotes mediocrity. Teach to a level slightly above what the average member in attendance feels comfortable.

    Throw something out there for the keeners, or they’ll get bored.

    Make the under achievers scramble. They’ll be better off in the long run.

  14. This “teaching to the middle” or “teaching to the underachievers” brings up and interesting point-especially when we think of how the Savior taught in parables, so that no matter what level you were at, you could still learn and progress.

  15. Rick’s right. What are we here for if not to stretch and improve ourselves?

    Heidi, but the Lord still taught and expected us to work harder and do better, not to sit in the middle and do little to improve our knowledge and learning.

  16. I’d have to agree with you in #8. It seems silly to me to cater all teaching in the church to the lowest common denominator. Milk before meat in a growing church would lead to staying forever with milk for everyone. I think there’s plenty of time for meat in GD, and there will almost without effort be plenty of milk there for those who still lack teeth.

  17. Of course you are right, Mary. Some of the other comments made me think about the Savior teaching in parables, and I honestly didn’t mean for that to come off as a suggestion. I’m not the teacher, the bishop or even a class member. It’s just something that had been on my mind a lot lately, even before this post. I think the idea of stretching and reaching is spot on, and I so agree with you that is what the Lord wants for us. There is so much I need to do improve my knowledge and learning. I’m grateful for Gospel teachers, in my ward and like your husband, who work so hard and care so much about their callings. I’m sorry for making it sound like he wasn’t teaching the way the Savior would. That’s not what I think. I just had parables on the mind and that’s why I said what I did, but it came off in a self-righteous way. Please, forgive me.

    Kim, I apologize for making it sound like you are not doing a good enough job, especially from my original comment. The topic spurred a lot of thoughts for me, which I shared. I shouldn’t give unsolicited advice–it’s a fault I need to work on more. I need to listen more and speak less. Having been called and set apart, you of course know much more about the needs of the class than I possibly could. Please forgive me; I’m genuinely sorry.

  18. Oh you don’t have to apologise! Honestly, I just commented off of your remark, and it made me think some more about that (something I hadn’t really thought of before). One thing the Saviour does teach s is teaching others with diplomacy. No forgiveness is needed.

  19. I apologize for making it sound like you are not doing a good enough job

    Ha ha! Well, the jury is still out on how good of a job I am doing. This was my first class after all.

    Having been called and set apart, you of course know much more about the needs of the class than I possibly could.

    I’m not sure I’m there so soon, but hopefully it won’t take me too long.

  20. So, I’m curious, back to the original post, what have you decided to do about this, or do you feel it’s best to let it be? This is not the first time this has been an issue for GD teachers, and I’m sure it’s not the last. I’m our ward’s YW president and we had a scripture focused Mutual night to address this very thing, but obviously that’s not an option in this case.

  21. At this point, I’m not quite sure what I am going to do. I’m still in the pondering phase. Some of the things that have crossed my mind are:

    1. spending a couple of minutes reviewing the table of contents, footnotes, bible dictionary, topical guide, index, and so on, encouraging them to use them “religiously” in their scriptre study;
    2. encouraging class members to become familiar with order of the books of the Bible as part of their gospel study; and
    3. pointing out that the table of contents has page numbers.

    Hopefully, some other ideas come to mind.

  22. Our Stake Women’s Conference was based on the book “The Holy Secret” by James Ferrell (author of “The Peacegiver”). I just finished reading it and it has given me some great suggestions to make scripture reading more meaningful.

    In the story, the main character doesn’t read the scriptures because he thinks they are boring. A member of his ward becomes his mentor and teaches him to have a “conversation” with the scriptures by asking questions while reading, like:

    • What is happening?
    • Why is this happening?
    • What is the context?
    • Do I understand the possible meanings of the words in the verse?
    • Is this situation/story found elsewhere in the scriptures? How does it relate to Christ and his mission?
    • How does this apply to me?

    I think those first four questions especially force me to go to the topical guide, bible dictionary, JS translation, and also force me to be more familiar with where things are in the scriptures as well. Anyway, I highly recommend the book.

  23. I read on the back jacket of the book that he was associated with them, but I didn’t recognize the name. My husband, who is getting his Master’s in counseling, said he had heard of them before from one of his professors. I got distracted by the kids and so I didn’t ask him much about it. Are you familiar with them?

  24. I read you thoughts carefully, very carefully. I’ll probably not be attending CD in the future.

  25. Yes, well mostly online and have taken one course with them, They do some great work on solving conflict and seeing people ‘out of the box” (our preconceived ideas etc).

  26. First, Terry Warner is awesome! (Arbinger Institute)

    Second, when I taught GD I always just gave out the chapter we were in and a page number, usually saying “for you nonscriptorians John is in the New Testament, page ###.” Give them the basic information and get on to the meat of the lesson. I would do this for any reference from DC 65 is in the DC to something more obscure. My theory is there are plenty of gaps in my scriptural knowledge that I wouldn’t want highlighted, so I will do the same for others.

    But if that is to passive for your taste, you can, Third, do what I did in the 12/13 year old class I taught for years. “Hey Brother/Sister ### (kids always seemed to love being called Bro/Sis), you aren’t in primary anymore. If you want I can go and talk with (Primary Pres.) and ask her to take you back – she owes me a favor.” Granted I always used this when they acted out in class, but it might work for adults learning the order of the scriptures too.

  27. First of all Kim why do you only have 3 more lessons? Did I miss something? Having sat (and still sitting in) many years of Sunday School classes I know for a fact that you can never get to the end of the lesson especially if the instructor is a really good one and has the class in full participation. Thee is just too much material to cover. I know I like to follow along when each scripture is being read. It would be nice if the class was comprised with starting with one scripture and following in order down the path but it generally goes all over the place. Most people know at least if a book is in OT or NT or D&C or BoM etc but it is much quicker if the instructor can just say “if you go to page XXX then everyone is on the same page at the same time and everything flows smoothly. At times those that are very quick on the draw have it already, have read the quote out loud and the instructor has moved along and I am just at that scripture. It is frustrating to say the least.

  28. why do you only have 3 more lessons?

    I have no idea how many lessons I have left? I do, however, have three Sundays until my next lesson.

    At times those that are very quick on the draw have it already, have read the quote out loud and the instructor has moved along and I am just at that scripture. It is frustrating to say the least.

    Sounds like you might benefit from becoming more familiar with the placement of the books in relation to each other as part of your scripture study.

    Having sat (and still sitting in) many years of Sunday School classes I know for a fact that you can never get to the end of the lesson especially if the instructor is a really good one and has the class in full participation.

    Which is why I never try to cover all the material.

  29. Teach the doctrine plain and simple and everyone will benefit. Read section 50 of the Doctrine and Covenants for some help. True doctrine understood changes behavior.

  30. I always just taught what I found interesting in the material. I figured when I was gone somebody else would teach what interested them and so on. Now that might bore a few people, but over the course of a lifetime we should be exposed to most angles of the gospel.

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