Saturday, January 25, 2014

An Unorthodox Look at Hometeaching ...




TAKE a poll on the most boring subject for a talk or lesson in the LDS Church and likely hometeaching will top the list.
One day, the Church will have to face the fact that this program just doesn't work well.
My ward had a Sacrament meeting on the subject recently. It was reported that the ward had about 60 percent visits for the month of December 2013.
By my recollection over the years, that's about average -- meaning just barely over half the ward ever gets visited. There has been zero improvement over the most recent 5 decades in my memory.
It doesn't matter what ward and stake leaders have tried, the percentage just doesn't improve much. And, if it does go up, it doesn't stay high for long.
Over the years, here are a few of the innovations (all unsuccesful) tried to improve the percentages:

-Outlaw father and son hometeaching  companionships.  The bishop wanted to "mix it up." The result was lower percentages than ever. Didn't last long.

-Have the ward and stake leaders do any hometeaching not already completed by the 20th of the month. This also neither worked, nor lasted. The reporting process alone was impractical.

-Have the stake presidency imply that you can't get a temple recommend if you don't home or visit teach.

Not only were all these rogue actions by single stakes, they just made many stake members mad and failed miserably.

-The bottom line is leaders can and have preached endlessly on this subject and nothing has really improved.

Here's my two cents on the only feasible ways to get more mileage out of the hometeaching program. It is not a pretty picture, but it is realistic:

1. Prioritize.
Since it is a proven fact that barely over half of ALL hometeaching ever gets done, you've got to accept that fact and act accordingly.
So:
A. Take the creme of the crop from the High Priest Group and have them hometeach the most needy of single sisters, If there are enough good brethren, include the less active ward members that inspiration says should be worked on too with this group of elite hometeachers.

B. After prioritizing, down the line, you basically assign the most active families to the least likely companionships to visit them.
Then, at least the most needy are taken care of.
You've just got to remember that some less actives only have contact from the church through hometeaching. Assign them a companionship that rarely goes out, and you may have doomed that family to perpetual inactivity.
Can the most active families get by without regular hometeaching visits? Yes, they can, better than the very less active.

2. Companionships:
A smooth companionship is the best way to succeed in getting more brethren to go out and visit.
If you put two brethren together who mingle together at church regularly, that's your best match at getting hometeaching from them too.
But, put two men together who don't care for each other's company and well, you will likely see them do less hometeaching.

Don't be afraid to create more husband-wife companionships, if that's what it takes.
My experience is that sometimes it is so hard and frustrating to get together with a companion, that this is why some hometeaching never gets done.
I've rarely had young men as companions (outside my own sons), who worked well at agreeing to go out. 
(Well, OK, I had two young men over the decades that worked, once when I had twins for companions and if one could not go out; and another when an exceptional and mature young man was so willing and loved to go do visits ....)



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