Purpose: To help each family member properly prepare for General Conference in order to ensure that each may get the most out of the opportunity to listen to the prophets and learn together as a family.
Possible scriptures: Doctrine and Covenants 1:38; Doctrine & Covenants 68:4; Doctrine and Covenants 43:8–10. Reread some talks from last conference. Prepare a quote from your favorite talk to share with the family (Younger family members may benefit from watching the excerpts of conference found from the conference page of The Church website under “watch highlights” or “Relive the stories;” or via YouTube Mormon Channel).
Possible Songs: We Thank Thee, O God For a Prophet, hymn 19; Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice, hymn 21; The Spirit of God, hymn 2; Testimony, hymn 137; Again We Meet Around the Board, hymn 186; Come, All Ye Saints Who Dwell on Earth, hymn 65; Come, Sing to the Lord, Hymn 10; Oh, Holy Words of Truth and Love, hymn 271; Latter-day Prophets, Children’s Songbook page 134;
Possible Materials: 3 different sizes of containers and 3 containers of water full enough to fill the largest sized container, as well as something to catch the extra water (towels or a cake pan?). A set of each of the standard works (or illustrations of them) and the most recent copy of the conference report.
Preparation: Begin with prayer. Consider your present attitude towards General Conference and ask yourself what you could do in order to receive greater spiritual renewal and personal guidance from the Conference addresses. Read the conference talks from the last General Conference (or watch them), as well as any articles listed in Resources.
Children: Have fun playing with measurements and how much water will fit into each cup. Then get the help of a grownup and explore LDS.org Conference website for children, especially this video about the Conference Center.
Introduction: Ask the family to join you in a place that is okay to spill and get wet. Present a small cup (the smaller the better) and a large cup (larger, the better), as well as a medium-size. Tell the family that the Holy Ghost is like water. We are each like the glasses. When we are being taught, the teacher who has done his work to prepare and invite the spirit in is like the pitcher that pours water into our glass. Some of us spend very little time preparing. We are like the small glass (pour the water into the small glass, let the extra water overflow). When conference comes, we are able to receive some of the blessings of the Holy Ghost, but we are easily overwhelmed and cannot hold more than a little enlightenment. Sometimes we are like the medium glass (pour the water into the medium glass. Just a little should overflow): we are looking forward to conference, we have plenty of room for the Holy Ghost, and we come away feeling refreshed and enlightened, but we still long for just a little bit more. But what happens if we could be as prepared as the full glass (Pour water into the third glass. It should fill it entirely)? When Conference comes, we are eager and well-prepared, we have prayed for enlightenment, studied past conference addresses, and are eager to receive more enlightenment. As we listen to conference, we receive every blessing and insight that the Lord wishes us to receive.
Read this statement by President Boyd K. Packer:
“In a few days there opens another general conference of the Church. The servants of the Lord will counsel us. You may listen with anxious ears and hearts, or you may turn that counsel aside. … What you shall gain will depend not so much upon their preparation of the messages as upon your preparation for them” (Follow the Brethren, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Mar. 23, 1965], 10).
Discussion: Ask the family what we consider scripture. Hold up each book as it is called (I have a drawing of each book so that Old and New testaments are separate, as well as The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price). Then hold up a copy of the Conference Edition of the Ensign (or draw one, as well).
From a Modern Prophet: Ask the family why we have General Conference. According to President David O. McKay (in Conference Report, Oct. 1954, 7), General conference is:
1. “To inform the membership of general conditions—whether the Church is progressing or retrogressing, economically, ecclesiastically, or spiritually.
2. To commend true merit.
3. To express gratitude for divine guidance.
4. To give instruction ‘in principles, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel.’
5. To proclaim the restoration, with divine authority to administer in all the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to declare, quoting the Apostle Peter, that ‘there is none other name under heaven given among men’ than Jesus Christ ‘whereby we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12.)
6. To admonish and inspire to continue in greater activity”
President Howard W. Hunter also said,
“Conference time is a season of spiritual revival when knowledge and testimony are increased and solidified that God lives and blesses those who are faithful. It is a time when an understanding that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is burned into the hearts of those who have the determination to serve him and keep his commandments. Conference is the time when our leaders give us inspired direction in the conduct of our lives—a time when souls are stirred and resolutions are made to be better husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, more obedient sons and daughters, better friends and neighbors” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 15)
From the Doctrine and Covenants: Read Doctrine and Covenants 1:38; Doctrine & Covenants 68:4. Discuss how each time a Prophet speaks the words Heavenly Father wants him to say, it is scripture.
From President J. Ruben Clark: President Clark once asked how we would know if the Prophets were speaking as themselves, or as one speaking for God. In answer to his own question, he said,
“I have given some thought to this question, and the answer thereto so far as I can determine, is: We can tell when the speakers are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ only when we, ourselves, are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’
“In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak” (“When Are Church Leaders’ Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?”Church News, July 31, 1954, 9).
Further discussion: Ask your family what they can do to receive all of the blessings of General Conference. Make a list of options. This may include taking notes, discussing conference between sessions, setting goals to study conference in the future, praying to receive inspiration for your life, and thinking of questions you have that you would like answered and then listening for those answers.
Discuss with your family a time that you received an answer to a question that you had during General Conference, or just bear your testimony about General Conference and how you feel about getting to listen to men of God.
Challenge: Ask each family member to prepare for conference this week. Ask them to think of a question that they would like answered, and invite each member of the family to take notes so that they can invite the spirit of revelation into your home.
Resources: LDS.org’s website on General Conference and how to prepare for it; Institute manual on Teachings of the Living Prophet, chapter 6. A copy of the most recent conference addresses.