Part of A Happier Ward Series – (ward health)
A Clear and Easy Guide
In April of 2018, President Nelson announced the end of visiting and home teaching.
“We have made the decisions to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as “ministering.”
retire: withdraw, depart, exit, adjourn
How is ministering completely different than home teaching and visiting teaching?
First, ministering is simple, clear, and easy.
(Note: Some of the Church web pages do not work on Chrome – at least not on my computer. Please use a different browser to view links if you need to.)
Contrast home teaching “The Old Way” with ministering “The New Way.” For example, “Once-a-month visit” becomes “Simple, flexible contacts.”
simple: easy, uncomplicated, undemanding
flexible: adjustable, variable, responsive
Video Clip 1 (13 mins)
This one is worth watching if you have the time. “One on One” from the Church’s Ministering Page – A touching, true story!
Video Clip 2 (34 seconds)
This quick 34-second video is near the top of the Church’s ministering page.
Or go to Be a Minister – Become a part of someone’s life – scroll down half a page.
Notice the emphasis on becoming an important, spontaneous friend – in all its varieties. The focus on companionship training or a prescribed protocol is nowhere to be found.
From the Church’s Ministering page: The six priorities of ministering:
- Make contact with those to whom you have been assigned to minister. This can be done in a variety of ways. Reach out to them in person; by phone, text message, or social media; or even with a letter.
- Get to know them. Learn about their lives, relationships, and circumstances. By doing so, you’ll be able to anticipate their needs and either meet those needs yourself or call on your ward leadership to access additional resources.
- Become a friend by letting them know that you care. Make the effort to be the kind of friend that they need.
- Pray for them and for guidance. Nobody knows the needs of those you are assigned to minister to better than Heavenly Father. Seek His help and pray for inspiration to serve them in the best way—His way. Finding inspired answers to questions you have and using all available methods for making contact are key to inspired ministering.
- Minister to them in individualized and customized ways to fit their needs.
- Maintain the relationship. Life can change quickly for people. Regularly touch base with those to whom you minister, and you’ll be better prepared to help and serve them when needs arise.
Notice how much these six priorities correspond with the green arrows on the top infographic. Also notice they focus on individual, spontaneous actions.
President Bingham describes ministering:
What Does Ministering Look Like? “It looks like going for a walk, getting together for a game night, offering service, or even serving together. It looks like visiting in person or talking on the phone or chatting online, or texting. It looks like delivering a birthday card and cheering at a soccer game. It looks like sharing a scripture or quote from a conference talk that would be meaningful to that individual. It looks like discussing a gospel question and sharing testimony to bring clarity and peace. It looks like becoming part of someone’s life and caring about him or her.” (Jean B. Bingham – Ministering As the Savior Does)
Both of these videos are wonderful. You only need to view about 2 minutes from each one.
Video Clip 3 (2 mins)
Watch minutes 3:36 through 5:39.
Notice Elder Holland starts off with “most of our ministering efforts will be in settings other than the home.”
(The whole video is delightful, and I highly recommend all of it, including a rather personable story towards the end – but watch 3:36 through 5:39 for sure. )
Video Clip 4 (2 mins)
Excellent comments by Elder Christofferson, Elder Rasband and Elder Ballard (and Sister Bingham).
- Ministering to be flexible and to use the many tools of communication.
- Led by promptings of the Spirit.
- To be kept in simplicity – not developed into programs.
Effective Latter-day Saint Ministering (start 2:45 through 4:55)
Top and First Image from Church’s Ministering Page
Second and Third Image
Ministering Interview Video
An excellent quick example of a ministering interview!
Start at minute 7:17
How to conduct a ministering interview with someone who is not as motivated. (And why so many more people can be successful at ministering than could be with home teaching.)
The resources above can be mixed and matched in any order – for training or a 5th Sunday class.
Overview of Ministering
- Emphasizes our growth as spontaneous, inspired individuals
- Follow the Spirit’s promptings with simple, flexible contacts
- Become the kind of friend they need in a natural way
- Become relevant in their lives
When it can be done as a companionship – great, but most of the actions portrayed and described on the Church’s ministering page refer to individualized ministering one-on-one.
Coordinated, prescribed-scheduled visits were precisely the past frustration of home teaching and visiting teaching. They are harder to make happen consistently. It’s exactly what President Nelson called out as an example of what ministering is NOT based on (see President Nelson’s end quote at the end of this article).
- Less dedicated saints can efficiently perform ministering, and they do a great job.
- With ministering in simple, flexible ways – more people participate, and more contacts happen
- The overall net effect is a lot more interactions and fellowshipping take place
Greater well-being results all around as the numbers of those who serve increase and the numbers of those who are served increase.
Recap: what is the purpose of ministering?
- To develop our capacity for spontaneous, inspired, individual acts
- To become a trusted friend
- To allow people to feel befriended, connected, and valued
What is different?
Home teaching focused on teams of two and training. Ministering focuses on spontaneous inspiration and an assortment of contacts within a month’s time (see green arrows on the infographic at the beginning of this article). Home teaching somewhat focuses one companion on the other (the task/old focus/infographic), whereas ministering focuses on the one both are assigned to (the person/new focus/infographic). Ministering is focused on the outcome of whatever serves that individual best.
Ministering doesn’t need training or senior companions. How much training does anyone need to make phone calls, write texts, etc.?
If a less dedicated saint needs a more substantial influence, assign a stronger ministering brother/sister to connect with them personally.
“Ministering does not include a set monthly message in the Church magazines nor a prescribed way to keep in contact, such as in-home, face-to-face visits each month-even though visits are important when they are possible….” (President Nelson)
prescribed: endorsed, selected, suggested, sanctioned
Ministering is simple, clear, and easy. It basically means be yourself and do the good works that come naturally to you. It means listening for promptings and responding. If we do this as a group at large – the net positive results are noticeable. You will see an increase in attendance and involvement at Church.