Imagine...a family home evening in which children are invited and expected to come prepared to ask questions about what they are reading and learning in the Book of Mormon—or about an issue that recently was emphasized in a gospel discussion or spontaneous testimony in the home. And imagine further that the children ask questions the parents are not prepared adequately to answer. Some parents might be apprehensive about such an unstructured approach to home evening. But the best family home evenings are not necessarily the product of preprepared, purchased, or downloaded packets of outlines and visual aids. What a glorious opportunity for family members to search the scriptures together and to be tutored by the Holy Ghost. “For the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; … and they did all labor, every man according to his strength” (Alma 1:26).
For the past 8 years we've had one of those cute little family home evening boards in our home, rotating the responsibilities for family night like a mechanical robot....and that's what it was becoming! More recently our Monday nights were a bit rote and stagnant. It was time to change things up, but I didn't know how.
Our first step was to just get rid of the board. I was sad, because it was really cute and I liked the structure. But when I took it off the wall and proclaimed it dead, my husband sighed with relief, "I've never really liked that thing!"
Step two was to create a binder. Each week we would have a different child conduct family night. With that responsibility the child was to create an agenda and then write a little something afterwards about what we discussed and did as a family. This kind of worked. If nothing else it helped us to get out of the rote mindset for family night.
Step three kind of happened on it's own and has been quite exciting.
A few weeks ago my husband gave a lesson where he asked everyone to write down a topic of the gospel they thought they knew a lot about and a topic they didn't know much about. We were then asked to find a scripture on the topic that we knew about and share it with the family. This led to a discussion on tithing (the most common "we know" topic) and an assignment for the next week: to find & share a scripture on the topic we didn't know much about. That second week we had a great time sharing what we found so we decided to try it again. Only, this time we decided to have a gospel topic for the whole family to study rather than each finding different topics to share.
Our first "all family" topic was prayer. During the week, each person was to find a scripture on prayer and write it on the white board whenever they found it so we wouldn't duplicate verses. As we discussed each verse, we took notes on what we learned with regards to the topic of prayer. Then we issued a challenge (like the Come Follow Me curriculum guidelines suggest) that everyone pray that week about how our family can become a part of the missionary efforts of the Church. The next week we were to come with a scripture on missionary work for family home evening. Again, another special discussion ensued and the spirit was strongly felt that night as we discussed our missionary efforts and all the Lord expects of us.
It's been so great to see the blessings and rewards of following the counsel of our leaders. Our children are learning and gaining confidence in the scriptures, the parents are learners and listeners (something I need to practice), and we are all being edified together.
"There is peace in righteous doing!"
Choose the Right, Hymn #239