Basically since General Conference, the chant “Two hour church! Two hour church!” has been playing a continuous loop in my head, accompanied by disco lights and jazz hands. Yet I’ve come to realize that focusing only on the shortened block rather than on why the block is being shortened is completely missing the mark — and it all comes down to the Church’s new Come, Follow Me resource.
After the shortened block and inclusion of Come, Follow Me were announced at the beginning of conference, the Church sent out an email to members entitled “Changes Support Balance Between Home and Church.” It explained, “. . . we encourage individuals and families to hold home evening and to study the gospel at home on Sunday—or at other times as individuals and families choose. A new resource, Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, provides ideas for personal scripture study, family scripture study, and home evening.”
In layman’s terms, (not to be confused with Laman’s terms… *cackles at own dad joke*) this means that family home evening (FHE) is now moved to Sunday.
Well, sort of.
An enclosure to the First Presidency letter further clarified, “The adjusted Sunday schedule allows for, and members are encouraged to hold, home evening and to study the gospel at home on Sunday—or at other times as individuals and families choose. A family activity night could be held on Monday or at other times.”
If you’re confused, don’t worry — it’s simple: an FHE lesson (conveniently outlined in Come, Follow Me) is now taught on Sunday, with a family activity to follow on another day of the week.
Still feeling a little unsure about how to use Come, Follow Me? You’ll catch on in no time, but here’s a sample outline (using the week of January 7-13 in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: New Testament 2019) detailing how you might use the resource within your own family each week.
1. Read the Suggested Scriptures Together on Sunday
On Sunday, as a family or individually, depending on your circumstances, read the suggested scriptures for each lesson. You might do this directly after church (or after your Sunday nap, am I right?!) or any time during the day that best works for your family.
Pro-tip: While obviously reading the chapters in their entirety is a wonderful goal, families with small children (or older children, TBH) may find it hard to keep the kids’ attention through an entire series of chapters. Instead, you might read only the scriptures correlating with the questions. Consider reading the question as a family before you read the associated scriptures, then ask each family member to ponder the question as you read the scriptural passages. This can provide enhanced, more focused discussions with increased participation since each family member knows what they are searching for.
2. As You Read, Focus on the Outlined Questions
The first week in the manual, “December 31—January 6: We Are Responsible for Our Own Learning,” contains a paragraph that reads: “‘What seek ye?’ Jesus asked His disciples (John 1:38). You might ask yourself the same question—for what you find in the New Testament this year will greatly depend on what you seek. “Seek, and ye shall find” is the Savior’s promise (Matthew 7:7). So ask the questions that come to your mind as you study, and then seek diligently for answers.”
Along those lines, one of the most wonderful things about the ideas presented in Come, Follow Me is that they allow for a guided read of the scriptures. Rather than reading aimlessly (which, in my experience, can lead to boredom and a lack of attention), using the suggestions in Come, Follow Me gives readers a purpose that enhances their focus and makes the scriptures more personal and meaningful.
The manual also urges us to ask family members how we can apply what we’ve learned during our study. For the week of January 7—13, it suggests, “For instance, how can we apply what we learn about responding to the Lord’s call from the reactions of the individuals in Matthew 1 and Luke 1?” Applying what we learn during our study will assist us in our goal of being truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
3. Have a Family Activity Any Day of the Week
Now that you’ve had the gospel lesson, you are free to do your family activity (which may or may not relate to your Sunday lesson — it’s up to you) on any weekday. Mondays will continue to be free of Church meetings, so that day may still work best for many households. However, the day and activity can be adjusted to fit your family’s needs.