Friday, October 23, 2015

Sacrament Meeting Topics

As part of the ward council, I've been requested to play a greater role in discussing and determining what topics are covered in sacrament meeting talks.  I started researching and probably got a little carried away in the exercise, but this blogpost is the outline that I came up with.  It's based on having set themes each month, with topics to go along with that theme.

Set Themes Each Month
Week 1:  Fast and Testimony meeting
Week 2: Developing Christlike Attributes
Week 3:  Doctrine Unique to the Gospel
Week 4: Discipleship/Gospel Living
Week 5: Current Topic of Choice

Developing Christlike Attributes:  
 I love the "Developing Christlike Attributes" element of the Come, Follow Me curriculum we use in the youth program and feel like it is a meaningful way to teach about Christ and about ways that we can improve ourselves.   

1.  Peacemaker/Seeking Peace--
Pres. Russell M. Nelson, "Blessed Are the Peacemakers"
Elder Paul V. Johnson, "Where Can I Turn for Peace?
Matthew 25:40, Matthew 5:9

1. How Christ is the perfect example of being a peacemaker. 
2. How can I find peace in a world filled with turmoil?  
3. How can I overcome the natural man to become a peacemaker? 

2.  Humility
Elder Marlin K. Jensen, "To Walk Humbly with Thy God"
Elder Michael T. Ringwood, "Truly Good and Without Guile"
Matthew 18:4

1. How Christ lived a life of humility. 
2. What does it mean to humble myself as a little child? 
3. How can I overcome the natural man and live a life of humility? 

3.  Christlike service
Linda K. Burton, "First Observe, Then Serve"
Pres. Thomas S. Monson, "We Never Walk Alone"
Mosiah 2:17, John 13:34-35

1. How Christ is the perfect example of giving service.  
2.  How can I strive to serve others selflessly?  
3. How Christlike service has blessed my life.   

4.  Patience
Alma 26:27
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Continue in Patience" 

1. Patience in waiting for answers to prayers. 
2. Patience by seeking to do God's will and accepting his timing.   
3. How Christ was an example of true patience. 

5.  Gratitude 
Alma 37:37 
Pres. Thomas S. Monson, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude"
Elder David A. Bednar, "The Tender Mercies of the Lord"

1. How can I  find gratitude even in the difficult times of my life? 
2. How can I learn to recognize the influence and blessings of the Lord in my daily life (tender mercies)?  

6.  Charity 
Moroni 7:45-48
Bonnie D. Parkin, "Choosing Charity:  That Good Part"
Pres. Thomas S. Monson, "Charity Never Faileth"

1.  How Christlike charity has blessed your life? 
2.  How can you seek to develop Christlike charity?   
3.  What is true Christlike charity? 

7.  Forgiveness
Pres. James E. Faust, "The Healing Power of Forgiveness"

1. What examples can we find in the scriptures of forgiveness?  How Christ was the perfect example of forgiveness.   
2. How can I overcome resentment and truly forgive when someone has deliberately hurt me? 
3. How has forgiveness blessed my life?  

8.  Obedience
D&C 82:10, 1 Nephi 8
Pres. James E. Faust, "Obedience:  The Path to Freedom"

1. What does it mean to be obedient?  
2. How does obedience increase our freedom? 
3. What lessons does the story of Lehi's dream, and Nephi's dream that parallels it, teach us about obedience and faithfulness?   

9.  Becoming Perfect Through Grace
Moroni 10:32
Brad Wilcox, "His Grace is Sufficient"

1. Grace vs. Works
2. How can grace transform us?
3. What does the admonition, "be ye therefore perfect" mean to me?  Recognizing that I will not reach that goal in this life, how do I interpret that directive?  How do I use it? 

10.  Not My Will, But Thine 
Neill Marriott, "Yielding Our Hearts to God"
Proverbs 3:5-6

1.  How can we learn to trust in the Lord in good times and in bad?  
2. How can we look to the life of Christ and apply it to our life in times of tragedy (loss of loved ones, loss of job, divorce, etc)?

11.  Prayerfulness
Alma 37:37, 2 Nephi 32:9

1. What do we learn about prayer from the experiences of the Brother of Jared and Enos?
2.  What role does prayer play in my life to bring me closer to Christ?
3. How can we follow the admonition to "pray always" and "counsel with the Lord in all thy doings"?  What does that mean in practice?  

12.  Mercy
Moroni 10:3
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Merciful Shall Obtain Mercy"

1.   Why is it important to remember God's mercy?  What role does remembering play in the process of God's communicating with us?
2.   How can we follow Christ's example and be more merciful to those around us--in our families and in our communities?   

Doctrine Unique to the Gospel
Our bishopric specifically felt that we needed to cover more doctrine unique to the gospel in our sacrament meeting talks, which is why I chose this as one of the themes.   

1.  Temple Work

1.  How does/can my experience in the temple improve my access to the atonement?  
2.  What do I really learn in the temple?  How can I learn more?

2.  Family/Marriage is Ordained of God

1.   How can we stand up for marriage and families in a world that continues to devalue them?
2.  What role does my marriage play in making me a better person?
3. How is my behavior in my marriage bringing me closer to discipleship?

3.   Family History

1. What blessings are obtained in my life and in those of others by my activity in family history?
2.  How can I stop making excuses and actually start doing family history regularly?  
3.   How has family history changed over the last several years?  How has that made FH more approachable for the average busy youth or adult?  

4.  Apostasy

Amos 8:11-12

1.  What was the apostasy?    Relate some of the history of it  (John Wycliffe,  Martin Luther, Roger Williams, etc)
2.  How can we avoid apostasy in our our own lives?  

5.  Living Prophets

1.    What are the blessings of a having a living prophet on the earth today?    
2.How do I sustain imperfect leaders?  How should I respond to the imperfections I see in my church leaders present and past / local and general?

6.  Restoration

1.  What is the restoration and why was it necessary?
2.  What things  had to occur to pave the way for the restoration?  

7.  Joseph Smith

1.  What was Joseph Smith's role in the restoration and why does it matter?  
2.  What are specific life lessons we can learn from Joseph Smith and the First Vision?

8.  The Book of Mormon

1.  What blessings have been promised to those who read the Book of Mormon?
2.  What do I get from the Book of Mormon that means something to me right now, in whatever stage of life I am in?  

9.  The Godhead

1.  What is the Nicene Creed and how did it determine the world's view of the Godhead?  
2.  What is the LDS view of the Godhead and why does it matter?  

10.  The Priesthood
Elder Oaks, "The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood"

1. How are the blessings of the priesthood for ALL people?
2. What is the authority of the priesthood and what does it mean for each of us?

11.  Tithing

1. Why is it important to pay an honest tithe?   What blessings have you received from paying your tithing?
2.   How tithing blesses the church and the world at large?  

Discipleship/Gospel Living /Teachings of Christ
I felt that discipleship was a recurring theme of General Conference this year and I thought that including it as a theme in our sacrament meeting talks would be a powerful way to reinforce that.  

1. Overcoming weaknesses to become more Christlike
Ether 12:27
Wendy Ulrich, "It Isn't a Sin to Be Weak"

1. What are some examples from the scriptures about people who overcame weaknesses?   
2. What can I do to overcome weaknesses?  
3.  Weakness vs. Sin (using the listed talk)

2. Discipleship
Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "It Works Wonderfully"

1. How can I make my discipleship less complicated, more focused on Christ?
2.  What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ in today's world?   
3.  What does my behavior, my treatment of others at the grocery store, on the metro, or elsewhere, signal about my discipleship?  What principles of the gospel can I apply more effectively in those situations?    

3. Deliberate Living
Elder Wilford Andersen, "Music of the Gospel"
Elder David A. Bednar, "More Diligent and Concerned at Home"

1. How can we get past the busyness of our lives and be more deliberate in our parenting/living?
2. What does it mean to be more "diligent and concerned at home"?

4. Having a Perfect Brightness of Hope (mutual theme for 2016)
2 Nephi 31:20

1.  How have you found hope in the atonement of Christ?
2.  How can you keep from losing hope in the midst of trials?
3.  What does it mean to have a perfect brightness of hope and why does hope matter?

5. Worth of Souls
Rosemary Wixom, "Discovering the Divinity Within"
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Merciful Shall Obtain Mercy"

1.  How can we recognize our true worth?
2.    What does it really mean to judge another?  How can recognizing the true worth of souls help us eliminate judgement  and help to improve my discipleship?    

6. Anchor in Christ
Helaman 5:12

1.  In a busy, active lifestyle, what does it mean to have our lives truly anchored in Christ?
2.  What are the blessings from having a life anchored in Christ?  

7. Developing Faith
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Building Faith in Christ"

1. What is the role of reason in living a Christlike life?    If there is a conflict between reason and faith, how is it resolved?  
2. How can we continue to increase our faith in Christ throughout our lives?  

8.  Parables of Christ--what can we learn from specific parables for our lives today

1. Parable of Mustard Seed
2. Parable of the Sower
3.  Parable of the Prodigal Son

9.   Sermon on the Mount

1. What lessons can you learn from Christ's teachings on the Sermon on the Mount?

10. Revelation

1.  What is the role of revelation in my life?  How does it lead me to greater discipleship?
2. What is the role of revelation in the church, what role has it played throughout the history of the world?  how does the lord use revelation to bless the lives of his children in all times?

11.  Repentance

1. What real role does repentance play in my life as an adult when most of my life is in keeping with the gospel?   
2. What is the role of the atonement in helping me repent and  improve, making progress toward discipleship? 

12.  Overcoming Doubt
Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf, "Come, Join With Us"
Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Stay in the Boat and Hold On!"

1. What are the blessings that come from our membership in the church?  
2. What can I do when I have unanswered questions that are starting to affect my testimony?  

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