Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Are the Home & Visiting Teaching Programs Failures? Candid &/or Anonymous Answers Requested

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm sick and tired of hearing the weekly exhortation to do your home teaching. I'm sick of the reminders, I'm sick of "people" not doing it.

WAIT!!!

"People" don't do home & visiting teaching...do they?

Individual saints do, Jane and John Doe Saints around the world.

So, why...why...why...don't Jane and John just DO IT!?!?!?!?!

If individual's aren't doing it...doesn't that make the program a failure. Given currently membership retention rates...it certainly seems like it.

Here is my answer. Will you please provide yours? Anonymously or not, Please answer. My only requirement is that you don't parrot the Ensign on the importance of home teaching.

Answers:

1. Lyle Stamps: [Start excuse] I'm quasi-exempt, because my ward hasn't assigned me yet. However, this doesn't excuse me from getting to know and visiting people on my own initiative. [End excuse]. Except while at BYU, where I had more than 100% home teaching (at least two visits a month w/assigned companions), I generally have had to do home teaching on my own. I suspect that I'm either a hard person to get along with and/or don't like to coordinate with others and tend to do visit people (in general) on short notice, w/o alot of planning. So, my solution is probably to learn to love my HT companion first and show more respect for those that are allowing me into their home to visit them.

If I was answering for others, I suspect [please disabuse me of this notion], that most individual Saints harbor a deep dislike for the program and find that it is largely useless. Hence, they don't do it because they don't believe in in. I'm not sure I believe in it either...I just do it...kinda.
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12 Comments:

Blogger RoastedTomatoes said...

I home teach when people want me to. I always do a first visit. If they want me to come back after that, I will. If they don't, I won't.

Almost nobody ever wants home teaching, in my experience.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Dallas Robbins said...

I have always believed that home/visiting teaching could be the most powerful program the church has ever come up with. But nobody takes it as seriously as it should. I think if people were called and sustained in sacrament meeting, people would make it a higher priority. It would take extra time to call/sustain people initially, but I think it would be interesting to see what effects it would have.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Clark Goble said...

I think part of the problem with HT is that we focus on giving a lesson that most people find mildly tedious. Instead the focus should be on being friends, helping them and so forth. I honestly think those are more beneficial than reading a bit out of the Ensign. Do we friendship people?

The problem is that we are in a comfort zone where friendshipping is more difficult than it ought be. I think part of that is that things are often *too* formal.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous RoAnn said...

I love the present format Visiting Teaching lessons-- there is always at least one quote that will fit almost any situation, including all family configurations and levels of activity or belief in the Church. (It seems to me that the First Presidency message can usually be adapted to fit, also.)
When the person visited is involved in discussing the principles in the lesson, there is a real opportunity for the Spirit to touch the hearts and minds of all who are participating. IMO, that spiritual opportunity is one of the reasons we need Home and Visiting Teaching.
I am always happy to have short, well-focused, and conveniently scheduled visits. I am less enthusiastic, however, when we have to rearrange our family schedule to accommodate inconvenient, perfunctory visits by reluctant teachers on the last day(s) of the month!
Friendship is great, and it's a bonus when Home/VTs have interests that coincide with those they teach. But even if they don't, when the teachers are spiritually in tune, I believe that most active and less active members will look forward to visits because they will be positive experiences where the Holy Ghost is felt and bonds of brotherhood are strenghtened.
Maybe that's an idealistic view, but I have seen it work, both as a VT, and as one being taught.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous JLS said...

I have had fantastic home teaching expriences. I believe home teaching/ visiting teaching (HT/VT)are the most important callings in Church. However, my home teachers, when they come, usually read straight out of the First pPresidency message--it's as if they brought the most boring aspect of Elder's Quorum right to my doorstep, so I hate when they came and I suppose I've given off enough non-verbal cues that they don't come much anymore.

One of my home teaching companions had the solution. My experience with him and following his lead brought fabulous home-teaching experiences. I still remember the families we home taught, wonder how their lives are.

His gauranteed method for a great home teaching exprience, he never taught out of the Ensign until "they" found out he wasn't using it; he changed tactics slightly but still didn't crack the ensign during the lesson. Here's the plan: skim the article, or better yet, read the title, spend 15 minutes thinking about it and how you have encountered the topic in your own life, and talk about that. The idea is to explore how religion intersects with your actual life, and not to read about how President Monson once saved a bird and befriended a one-armed clown.

This method has never failed me-- it somehow encourages conversation and pleasant experiences. I'm still aghast and amazed that my graduate degree holding home teaching companions can't prepare a lesson that doesn't rely on reading from the First Presidency message word for word.

2:25 AM  
Blogger W. Lyle Stamps said...

JLS raises an interesting point:

How do we deal with the HTs assigned to us? I've actually threatened my MTs before that if they don't visit me, I will show up at their house at 10pm on the last day of the month.

However, I largely share w/JLS: If you are going to read out of the Ensign...don't bother; I can read faster myself.

But is this the right response? RT says that if people don't want him to come back...he doesn't. Ok...that is just fine; except...
1. when we ourselves discourage our own HTs from visiting
2. Is it all just about us; the visitees? Maybe the "enlightened" visitee should be more patient with their HT/VTs? [sounds like a disease, huh...or maybe a hight tech virtual television?]
3. It doesn't square with the shepherd who saves the lost sheep which has wandered off; of course, this has to be balanced as we are mortal, not the saviour and need to retain a relationship of equals. Very much a poser

6:16 AM  
Blogger W. Lyle Stamps said...

So...Dallas, Clark:

What is it going to be? More or less formal. Why?

Personally, I don't see the program working; but like Julie in Austin, I follow because that's what I'm told is the program and I've covenanted to build the kingdom [and that includes following the architural plans from the Brethern].

I side with less formality; where each ward member just takes it on themself to know each and every other ward member by name and socialize with them occasionally.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Floyd the Wonderdog said...

HT and VT are failures when they are treated as a burdensome responsibility. I had a HT who would come regularly, but then when my son died he didn’t come for months. Finally he spoke to me in church, *Are you over it yet?*

*Over what?*

*Over your son’s death.*

Evidently my son’s passing might be contagious, like the flu. He was afraid that by talking to me or doing his home teaching that he might catch it. So much for mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort.

A prominent LDS playwright, let’s call him Brother Farley, was my HT when I lived in Utah. Although he was a great name dropper, he was a lousy home teacher. The bishop congratulated us in Priesthood meeting one Sunday for two months of 100% home teaching. I raised my hand and asked how that was possible when I hadn’t been home taught in 6 months. The pressure to perform our home teaching is so heavy that some will lie about it.

On the other hand, I really like it when it is done properly. Knowing what I had gone through when my son died, I demanded to be made HT to a sister who’s husband had passed after finding that she hadn’t seen a HT in years. I decided that she would have someone to talk to and care for her in her grief. We are close friends.

12:15 PM  
Blogger W. Lyle Stamps said...

I applaud Floyd's pro-activity in requesting a calling to help another; which mirrors Dallas' concern. I stick with Clark, that Floyd could also have just visited her w/o calling; although as T&S has noted...some married men feel uncomfortable dealing with sisters in any non-official setting.

2:28 PM  
Blogger W. Lyle Stamps said...

I applaud Roann's optimism. I would like to feel the spirit more often; or at least in a more explicit cognizable (burning bosom, whatnot) way.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

On the other hand, I really like it when it is done properly. Knowing what I had gone through when my son died, I demanded to be made HT to a sister who’s husband had passed after finding that she hadn’t seen a HT in years. I decided that she would have someone to talk to and care for her in her grief. We are close friends.

Good for you.

People are just "too busy" which is a real problem. We need to re-engage as a church and as a people.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Eden said...

I don't think that HT & VT are failures, but I think the way they are approached is.

I see my husband, who in in our Elder's Quorem presidency call every month to get numbers. The same people don't teach, the same people don't call back. THat shows lack of respect for the programs or at least a misunderstanding of them, and it boils down to laziness.

Part of the problem, and this has been mentioned ,that people see these callings as a burden, rather than a blessing.

I agree with who ever said it, but a HT/VT should be friends first and teach a lesson last.

I am my husband's companion right now for HT, and he has a family that we've never taught a lesson to. We have baby sat for them, taken them dinner, helped them with their yard, but never a lesson. They are some of our best friends because, we know them and know what they need. Our HT's on the other hand some once in a while and just read the lesson from the Ensign, it's dreadful. I wouldn't call them if I was dying.

Perhaps some better training, or just a change in attitude. These programs are not going to go away. We might as well do them cheerfully rather than grudingly.

8:13 AM  

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