I can feel it. Can you?
There’s something electric in the air, and big changes are coming in October’s General Conference. Some are projecting a snowstorm.
The kingdom of God is rolling forth, and the work is accelerating at an exponential rate. However, there is nothing to stress about. This is something to be grateful for. The Lord is pouring out His Spirit upon the nations and people are being prepared on both sides of the veil to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive the blessings of the holy temple.
The Lord is guiding His prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. Thanks to a wonderful witness from his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, we learned the process of how the Lord gave President Nelson “detailed instructions” on what to do in his ministry as prophet.
We have already learned much of the Lord’s direction in April, and we will continue to learn more of what those instructions are during October’s General Conference.
What messages will be given? What changes will be made? What will be the revelation we receive personally?
This article won’t focus on the sensational and extravagant rumors, (and there are plenty of those) but it will bring to light some possible changes that align with the mission of the church and the doctrines that are discussed frequently by the brethren.
What will October’s General Conference bring?
A Focus on the Temple
In January of 2018, President Nelson gathered with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Salt Lake Temple annex where Elder Christofferson introduced Russell M. Nelson as the 17th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The new First Presidency wanted “to begin with the end in mind,” President Nelson said, and added it was for that reason they were speaking from a temple.
“The end for which each of us strives is to be endowed with a power in a house of the Lord, sealed as families—faithful to the covenants made in a temple that qualify us for the greatest gift of God, that of eternal life.”¹
Speaking to saints in Southern India as part of his Global Ministry Tour, President Nelson said that the Lord revealed His will that those in India would receive a house of the Lord.
The Name of Christ’s Church
Another theme that will be addressed at Conference is the name of Christ and its usage in relation to the name of the Church.
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming.” In 3rd Nephi it says,
“And Jesus again showed himself unto them, for they were praying unto the Father in his name; and Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them: What will ye that I shall give unto you?
And they said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter”.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
President Russell M. Nelson recently made the following statement regarding the name of the Church:
“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so. Additional information about this important matter will be made available in the coming months.”
There has been a lot of backlash, confusion, and concern over this statement, even among members of the Church. Disputations abound.
Teaching the Gospel in the Home
Perhaps the topic that has generated the most rumors is the brethren’s emphasis on teaching in the home.
The home is where the gospel should be taught. The home is not the backup plan if the Church is not able to teach everyone all the things they should know – the home IS the plan.
“Early in July, the Church announced that a series of resources—Come, Follow Me for home, Sunday School, and Primary—will be available for classes beginning in January 2019.
Rather than just focusing on lessons to be taught in church, the new curriculum shifts the emphasis to studying as individuals and families at home.
“Programs of the Church are home-centered and Church sponsored,” said Mike Magelby, director of curriculum for the Church, during the Education Week presentation. “Your study starts at home.”³
Shouldn’t We All Want More Church?
Going back to the rumor of the 2-hour church block, one reader named Chelsea asked, “If the church is true and we love the gospel, why is 2 hours better than 3?”
In my mind, this is a valid question and one that we should probably ask ourselves. It boils down to the reason why we would like an extra hour available to us on Sunday.
Another reader, Chris, gave a wonderful reply to Chelsea:
“@Chelsea “If the church is true and we love the gospel, why is 2 hours better than 3?” Here are just a few reasons:
- The most important reason for going to church is to take the Sacrament.Everything else is gravy.
- Quantity of time does not equal quality. “Less is more” is a wonderful principle that can apply to most everything in life, including the amount of time spent at church.
- More time for Ministering.
- More family time. In my calling, I am away anywhere from 6-8 hours on a given Sunday. I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with family time on Sundays – especially when you factor in other Church meetings such as Mission Prep or Self-Reliance. An extra hour at home would be such a blessing for me and my family.
- One’s testimony and love for the gospel does not automatically make one enjoy 3 hours of church. You posing this question makes me think you are not overwhelmed by the 3-hour block; however, there are clearly many who are not able to be fully engaged in church for 3 hours. Some people have legitimate reasons for not enjoying the 3-hour block: health concerns, difficult time sitting for so long, not able to stay focused, social anxieties, etc. Many of these people end up leaving right after Sacrament meeting or stop coming altogether. I think it is safe to assume that a percentage of these people would return to church and/or stay the entire time if the block were reduced to 2 hours.
- You can stack more Wards into a building saving on building construction.Buildings would also be used for fewer hours on a Sunday which means less electricity, heating/cooling etc. Over 1000’s of buildings worldwide, this would be a significant savings. While not as important as the other reasons, it is still a valid consideration for church administration.
- Spiritual growth is personal. Imagine if we spent even 15 (or even all 60) more minutes on a Sunday in personal study, pondering, prayer. What a difference that would make in our lives.
- Missionary work: some investigators who gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon are turned off by 3 hours of church. They do not yet have the perspective and context that longer-term members have about the Sunday block. Many investigators only have their own church-going experiences to compare, which, for most, is less than an hour a week. It sad, but the 3-hour block likely does turn away some investigators who would otherwise be great members of the church.
The gathering of Israel on both sides of the veil necessitates the preaching of the gospel to the living, and this is one of the hallmarks of President Nelson’s message. It’s also a theme that will be addressed at Conference with a plea for more missionaries, both young and old, to serve. With President Nelson’s specific challenge for the youth to enlist in the youth battalion of the Lord, we will surely be hearing more about missionary work.
“There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing. This gathering should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to earth,” said President Nelson in June’s devotional for youth.