Come Follow Me: Why are Covenants Important in My Life?

by: bolanderlife

July 5, 2013

Hello all!  My name is Bri.  I am a teacher of the 14 to 18 year old age group using the new Come Follow Me youth curriculum.  Most Sundays we have the 14 and 15 year old group show up.  For the next two weeks I get a break on teaching due to a fifth Sunday and a Fast Sunday.  I am very excited; its nice to be able to have a couple weeks to look at my lesson instead of a couple days! Looking forward, the lesson I will be teaching is “Why are Covenants Important in My Life?

After going over the lesson, I can already see some issues that will arise.  In my class, I have what I lovingly refer to as “lifers.”   These are the children (or adults) who have been in church their whole lives but may not understand certain doctrine.  In my case, I just plain didn’t care when I was a youth.  Currently, I don’t teach any converts.  My lifers often give me looks of “Did you really just say that?” or “If I stare at you long enough you will give me the answer.”   To combat these (non) responses, I try to make the lesson as hands on as I can. My philosophy is the more stuff you bring with you, the better your lesson will be.  I have found out, however, this can sometimes be a false statement. They still may not get it!

Weather you are a lifer yourself, or a teacher or parent to a lifer, how do you get them involved? If you’re a lifer yourself, what really piqued your interest in Sunday lessons as a youth?

Now onto the lesson and how I plan to conquer the lifer way of thinking:

  • I will first ask them what a Covenant is. Knowing my girls, I will probably get some that will sit and stare at me.  I will proceed to say “Girls, I need your answers.”  I never let them get away with not answering me. I think the new lessons are structured in such a way that if we spoon feed them the information, we aren’t being effective teachers. After all these lessons are designed with them in mind, not us. We will talk about what a covenant is.
  • To help my point get across, I will also turn to the scriptures. When you look in the lesson formats under “Prepare Yourself Spiritually”, there are helps you can use. These usually contain scripture references, talks, and videos. I really love how they group the scriptures together. I try to assign each girl a set of scriptures to search. Typically we only have three or four girls show up, although we have seven total on the rolls.  With that said, since I don’t have many girls, I find it easier to assign a set of scriptures rather than a single scripture. Looking into the lesson there is one set that only has one reference.  When this happens, I will assign the girl the “True to The Faith” book as well. I usually give them five minutes and if I feel like they are done, I will cut them off. I have them give the class a summary of what they read. My girls have a hard time grasping the concept of summarizing. I often have at least one girl who will read the whole set of scriptures to the class.  Honestly you can’t do a lot about this, but explain in a little more detail about what you want them to do.

Because the content of this specific lesson is lacking in length I will pull out a handy trick.

  • Instead of having them summarize with words, I may have them summarize with art.  I will still have them read their “set” of scriptures, but then have them choose a verse they feel is important to them and have them draw and color it. The first time I did this, they could not grasp the concept of drawing a scripture and putting their feelings on paper. Once they each found out how they wanted to express their feelings, I couldn’t get them to stop. This would be a perfect lesson to use the “art” method. I would give them ten to fifteen minutes to read their set of scriptures and draw it out. Each of them would then present their drawing to us and explain why that scripture spoke to them.

    Exodus 19:5. “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.”

This is a drawing that I quickly did, to show you what I mean by drawing a scripture. I used words here to express more of the scripture, but they can do it how they want. I allotted myself the ten minute limit that I allow my girls. I have the girl explain her picture to the class, and why she drew it this way. I sometimes have them tell me how their scripture can help them every day as well.

If I am doing my math correctly, I should still have about fifteen minutes of class time left. To round it out, I would put on a video or pull out a talk. Since there are no videos for this lesson, I will pull out a talk.

  • There are two talks recommended in the lesson outline that I could use. Let’s be honest here, how many of our youth really care about the talks they are reading? I often times find my girls drifting, doodling, or even leaving the classroom because they are bored. I tend to choose talks that spark more of my interest thinking the girls might be intrigued.
    • Sugardoodle.net has ten additional talks listed that you could use. Many of you are probably thinking “Great, now I have twelve talks to use.  How am I ever going to pick?” For me, I read the first paragraph or two of the talks until there is one that really speaks to me. Once I have found one I like, I print it, copy it, and that’s the one we go with.
  • As far as having them read the talks, there are several ways you can do it:
    • My girls love reading and discussing them together. We do about two paragraphs at a time. However, I feel like I lose them more when we do this.
    • My favorite way is to give them each a talk, pen, and highlighter. Then have them write their names on their talks. I include myself as well as the other leaders in the room in this activity. Next we each pass our talks to the right (or left it doesn’t matter) and start reading. I tell the girls that as they are reading, they are to write their thoughts and feelings on the paper. They can also highlight what is important to them. I give them about three minutes, then they pass the paper and start reading on the “new” talk where they left off. They are not to go back to a previous part of the talk unless they feel something is super important. You keep passing every three to four minutes until either they finish reading the talk, or you run out of time. I like this method because it gets them to read the talk more than one time, meaning they will want to look and see what other notes are on their paper. I always give them a note card so they can write any questions they have so we can address them together.

This lesson is a pretty simple one to teach and I have given you some ideas on how I will do it. I know these lessons can be tricky and  hard to get through.

What are your ideas I could add to this lesson? You are not alone in this and there are many people here to help! Thanks for letting me help you out!

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8 Responses to Come Follow Me: Why are Covenants Important in My Life?

  1. Hedgehog on July 5, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    Hi Bri,
    Well I am a lifer, and parent to a YW lifer as well.
    What piqued my interest?
    Mainly when there was more depth, more digging into the subject matter, rather than the same old same old we’d been hearing since primary and junior Sunday school (which dates me!). I’m reminded we must really have tormented our junior Sunday school teacher, because every week she’d ask if we had questions, and every week we’d say ‘Yes, who was the first Heavenly Father?’
    Mostly I loathed YW, especially when it came to the gender role stuff, and emphasis on motherhood, with sickly sweet poetry. So, my interest would certainly have been piqued by examples of women doing other things, especially when those women would have come from our early church history. Sadly, I didn’t get any of that in my YW lessons, but it would have been brilliant.
    On the conference talk thing, I’d recommend avoiding talks by men telling women what they are. A huge turn-off. I love that you get them to annotate and discuss thoughts and feelings though, so maybe you could use those talks, and discuss negative reactions…
    I think my daughter probably would enjoy the drawing a scripture. I would probably have viewed it with deep suspicion, but that’s just me.

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  2. hawkgrrrl on July 6, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    I’m a lifer, too. As a teacher of this age group, I agree that sometimes the lifers know an astonishingly small amount about the gospel. It can be a bit tough to get them to do anything but stare at you with their blank faces. The month of Priesthood lessons was somewhat brutal in this regard, although I’ve found that kids in the 13-14 year old range do well with team competition in the classroom, and they also do pretty well with reading scriptures. I’ll have to try some of your suggestions in future.

    When I was a 13-year old lifer, I was so checked out in class constantly, but our teacher started to call me as his substitute when he couldn’t be there. I ended up teaching my own peers about half the time, and let me tell you, they weren’t great! But it did keep me from being the disrupting force. I did my best every week with those lessons, and I’ve been teaching most of the time since then.

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  3. Wendy Brown on July 6, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    I’m a “lifer”, and my main thing is I hate to be bored. It totally turned me off when a teacher showed up for class (mostly sunday school) and started the lesson by saying they didn’t have time to prepare a lesson…REALLY?!!! That just says to me that he/she didn’t think I was worth the time. I LOVE LOVE LOVE visual aids. They simply make lessons more interesting. The better and bigger the pictures, the more I’m into the lesson. I was the primary music leader for years, and I have boxes and boxes of visual aids. My kids sang and participated because I tried really hard to make it fun and challenging. I am now the beehive advisor. I try to think about what was boring to me and put myself in their place and come with things to make my lessons not boring. For the priesthood lessons, I had a deacon, 2 teachers, and a really cute returned missionary come into our class and talk about how they felt when they were about to receive the priesthood and what their duties were. They were AWESOME! The RM I asked to tell a story where he used his priesthood on his mission and then how he planned to use it as a husband and father. The spirit was super strong, and we all really enjoyed their testimonies and learned. Last week I made up a huge jeopardy game that was a review of what we had learned with how to uphold the priesthood thrown in. We had fun. My goal as a teacher is for them to feel the spirit, learn, and not be bored. I look up a lot of things on pinterest, sugardoodle, the New Era, I prepare with prayer, read all the scriptures and talks on lds.org that it recommends. I also bought clip boards and highlighters for each of the girls so if we read a talk, they can highlight things that mean something to them or write notes. I like to change up the lessons each week so we are not doing the same thing every week. I also bring treats occasionally. I like treats, and I know they do!

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  4. Hedgehog on July 8, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    So, how did it work out in practice?

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  5. Susan on July 10, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    I am a convert who is teaching lifers and it is not always easy. Sometimes they do just sit there and stare in to space and that can be really hard. I have been a member of the church for 17 or so years but feel I will never be a lifer. I have so much to learn. I love the new curriculum and when I prepare my lessons, I learn sooooo much. Sometimes i will be all excited about the lesson because of what I learned and the girls just stare at me like I’m nuts. :) It’s kind of funny but also sad at the same time. They seem to think they already know everything and maybe they do in a way. But I ask myself do they KNOW! as in have a testimony of it. Are they converted? I think not in some things because they say one thing and do another. I just keep praying that I can teach in a way that brings the spirit so they feel it to the point of conversion. When I taught the lesson about the first vision, I gained a stronger testimony of it and I will be forever grateful for that lesson. I used a fun object lesson with dominoes where each one stood for something that happened that built up to the first vision. I got the idea from MMM blog….Middle-aged Mormon Man. It caught the girls interest so that was good. I think they learned something but I think the spirit was stronger for me than them. I think the new curriculum’s whole purpose is to break up the lifer mentality in the youth. At a recent missionary homecoming, the missionary shared how the church has figured out that a lot of missionaries are not converted….they were just going through the motions and started having problems or leaving their missions, etc. Because of this the church or at least in this guys mission area, they started really working with the missionaries to get them fully converted. They saw amazing changes in the work once the missionaries were truly converted. These missionaries also come home fully converted ready to live a life in the gospel. As I listened to him, I knew that he was truly converted and I yearned for the same thing. I know that I have a long way to go and I know that the girls I work with have a long way to go. I just keep praying I can do some good. I appreciate all of your comments. They help me a lot.

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  6. Chrissy on July 15, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Hi
    I’m a convert and my class is mixed, lifers and converts. I teach 12 – 14 year old’s, more boys than girls, and can have any number from two to eight present each week. Most of my class live in one parent homes or part member homes. Those with two parents at home who are members are not regular attenders at our ward. None of them are familiar with handling the scriptures and I have to tell them which book to look in for particular scriptures. We discussed ordinances and only one of the boys could name ordinances.

    I love your idea for reading the talks, thank you for suggesting it. I also liked the drawing scripture idea.

    I am trying to get them used to reading the scriptures, so I do lots of activities where they have to find answers from what they read, crossword puzzles, printed quizzes, etc. I also find telling stories from my own experience works well.

    They are getting used to teaching each other what they have found out, but in English schools the students do not speak to the rest of the class on a regular basis, so it’s taken a bit of time to get them used to this.

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  7. teachingthechosen on September 22, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Great post! I really loved reading all of your insights and ideas!

    I have noticed that many teachers need more specific guidance than the church website has, especially with asking and coming up with good questions that promote discussions. It is hard! But, once it all “clicks” it can become easier. That is why I have spent that last 8 months studying and creating this website:

    http://teachingthechosen.com

    Teaching The Chosen is a website geared to helping LDS teachers with the youth Come Follow Me program learn how to better lead a discussion. We offer lots of different help and guidance, and encourage you to add your ideas, so we may all be leading one another to become a mentor.

    Check it out to see exactly what it is all about, and share it with your friends! :)

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  8. Chrissy on September 22, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Thank you, this is just what I need.

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