I was really nervous about teaching D&C 76. There is so much information, and since I only teach weekly, I was pretty confident we would not get to all the material without rushing. Additionally, because I teach adults it’s extremely difficult for me to judge how much people already know about the harder/deeper doctrines of the gospel, like the degrees of glory.
I had the feeling that I should really push the idea of scripture study aids with this section of scripture. I think it’s very important for gospel teachers to teach gospel students how to use the scripture study aids to enhance their personal study and to learn how to find answers to their own questions. It’s something I worked hard to encourage in my seminary class, and I felt like this was my first real chance to do it in the gospel study class. For pretty much the first time ever, the manual seemed to align with this line of thinking, too, and so I was able to use a couple of quotes from the manual to kick off our discussion.
After this discussion, we began practicing some of the things we talked about. I made students follow the footnotes as a chain and practice using the Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary. It was instructive to see how some of the women who had the gospel library app didn’t even know they could turn on footnotes, much less click right over to the TG. I showed them on my tablet and in my paper scriptures how much easier it is to read the TG in e-scripture format than in paper scriptures. I still prefer my paper scriptures for much study, but the e-scriptures have many benefits. For me, choosing between paper and electronic scriptures is like knowing whether I need to grab the power drill or manual screwdriver. You need the right tool for the job. I’ve actually taken to reading my paper scriptures with my electronic scriptures beside me so I can use the search tools on my electronic scriptures.
(Did you know that the Android version has more search options than the Apple iOS version? It’s why I have an Android tablet.)
Another technique we discussed is to keep your study tools nearby. We talked about how it helps to keep books like Mormon Doctrine or Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith at your study area so you are more likely to use them during study. Letting your device read scriptures aloud is a method that students were particularly excited to talk about. Journaling and writing impressions was another. I even taught them my latest e-scripture trick, which is instead of trying to type on my phone or tablet, I use the little microphone button on my keyboard to dictate or read text. It’s not perfect and I end up editing some words (thank you Mississippi accent), but it’s a lot faster than typing.
We spent a good bit of time learning how to use the tools and even spent some time training. I had students go through a couple of verses of D&C 76 and practice using the footnotes and studying deeply. Naturally we didn’t get far, so I asked students to re-read D&C 76 again, but this time, choose one or two of the scripture study methods we had talked about during class and see what happened.
The next class started with informal teaching about LDS scripture citation index as a student had a question about a particular phrase “mammon of unrighteousness” that I wasn’t prepared to answer. I told the class I’d be back with an answer (assuming I could find it) next week. The class was really interested in the index. I hope some of them use it.
We opened with a discussion about the things we had learned from using a scripture study method we talked about the previous week. Went well. I used some quotes from scripture study power quotes to answer some questions students were having. One student was frustrated that she was getting bogged down in her study, and this quote helped:
It is better to have a set amount of time to give scriptural study each day than to have a set amount of chapters to read. Sometimes we find that the study of a single verse will occupy the whole time (President Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, Nov. 1979, 64).
Anyway, the discussion was wide-ranging and a little bit less controlled than even I prefer, but it was a good set of lessons. I think it’s always best for students to share their experiences with the scriptures whenever we can. There were a few times that students tried to get off into the weeds, but I think we handled it pretty well. Overall, the lessons were successful, if not expertly administered by me.