In the October 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson encouraged members of the Church to transform their homes in to sanctuaries of faith. He acknowledged that the new meeting schedule will bless families with the ability to create these sanctuaries, particularly on the Sabbath Day.
“I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning…Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.”
Here are seven tips to help you create a gospel-centered home:
1. Paint the Picture
If your family has no idea what their home would look like as a sanctuary of faith, it will be very difficult to attain. So sit down together and make a list of all the ways you can make your home a holy place. From the way you talk to each other, to the music you listen to, all the details matter. Once you have all agreed on the specific kind of environment you want to achieve, the goal should be much easier to reach. Elder Gary E. Stevenson remarked:
“We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a “house of the Lord.”
(Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples, April 2009 General Conference)
2. It’s Not Just for One Day of the Week
If you attempt to create a special sanctuary one day of the week that is far different from the home environment the other six days, it may not bode well with your family. Going from one extreme to another would be difficult on a weekly basis, but maintaining a high standard of behavior and surroundings all week long will make the transition in to the Sabbath Day natural.
Elder Richard G. Maynes noted, “Learning, teaching, and practicing the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes helps create a culture where the Spirit can dwell” (Establishing a Christ-Centered Home, April 2011 General Conference).
3. Stay on the Offense
“If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear,” right? Make sure you are constantly doing things to promote an uplifting environment, so that the Spirit is present all the time. When the adversary comes knocking at your door, you will know and be ready to combat negative forces with the preparation you have done in advance.
Elder Richard G. Scott pointed out, “The prophetic counsel to have daily personal and family prayer, daily personal and family scripture study, and weekly family home evening are the essential, weight-bearing beams in the construction of a Christ-centered home. Without these regular practices it will be difficult to find the desired and much-needed peace and refuge from the world.”
He then gave an even more important piece of advice:
“Remember: little things lead to big things. Seemingly insignificant indiscretions or neglect can lead to big problems.”
(For Peace at Home, April 2013 General Conference)
4. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
This sounds trite, but, remember the Lord did say, “Mine house is a house of order” (D&C 132:8). So I guess we should follow suit by keeping even our physical surroundings neat and tidy. Notice, parents of small children, I did not say “spotless.” We know our home cannot constantly stay in the pristine condition we see in the temple. However, we can try to do a little better in the area of cleaning up clutter when we see it or sweeping the floor more often. Even making our beds will give our home a higher sense of order. Either way, if the family knows that a need for organization is due to a desire to have a more sacred space, then they will probably be more motivated to keep it in good condition.
5. Let Music Set the Mood
Whenever I feel the attitudes in my home are going south (mine included), I tend to use music as an instant way to “reset the mood” and maintain a spirit of peace. It’s amazing what a few hymns or a little classical music will do (after the complaints of the teenagers have faded). President Dallin H. Oaks observed, “Music is an effective way to worship our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. We should use hymns when we need spiritual strength and inspiration” (Worship through Music, October 1994 General Conference).
6. Filling the Technology Void
With President Nelson’s challenges to the youth and to the women to “fast” from Social Media in an effort to tune ourselves in with the Spirit and keep from being distracted, less technology is probably one of the hallmarks of a sanctuary of faith in his book. Now, we might want to restate that to say “less meaningless, distracting technology,” but, nonetheless, we will probably create a more uplifting environment when we leave our social media accounts for a while.
If we don’t have a plan for what we are going to do when we pause our screen time, then we may be tempted to hop back on Instagram or Twitter for a quick peek and get easily sucked back in. The best way to address this is to make a list of activities we can use to replace our social media time. A few suggestions might be read a hard copy of the scriptures, chat with a loved one, write in our journals, or cultivate a talent we have been neglecting (music, art, woodworking, etc.).
7. Allow Room for Mistakes
Let’s face it, even when we have the best of intentions, sometimes things go wrong. We may fall short in reaching our standards to create a sanctuary of faith. We may wake up on the wrong side of the bed, our two year-old may throw a tantrum, our teenager may leave the kitchen a mess…but that doesn’t mean our home can’t stay a place of refuge. Because isn’t it the Lord who is most accepting of our mistakes? Isn’t he the one who makes up for it all as the “Author and Finisher of our faith”?
Elder M. Russell Ballard stated:
“[Your homes] may not always be spotlessly clean nor the children perfectly behaved. But they are a place in which family members clearly love each other, and the Spirit of the Lord is felt by those who visit.”
(Creating a Gospel-sharing Home, April 2006 General Conference).
So remember, a sanctuary of faith is many things, but it is not a sanctuary of perfection. It is a sanctuary of safety, a sanctuary of trying, and a sanctuary of love in the midst of all our worldly flaws. And that truly is a holy place.