Visiting Teaching–New Ideas, Vision, and Success
Visiting teaching is difficult for every ward, and compounded in wards with lots of transition. There are many traditions in visiting teaching that have watered it down and made it feel more like a burden than a duty, responsibility, and a joy.
This gospel is based on “The One”. We save the individual soul. Reaching out our hand we lift one another, fulfilling our own destiny as well as the salvation of those we love.
I believe goal setting is the most important thing anyone can do if they really want to change or be better. But the fear of setting goals is often the very thing that holds us back. By following this outline, you will be able to set personal goals, as well as goals for any organization:
- Purpose—Define your purpose. For Relief Society, it should be Saving Souls, because that is our true purpose. You could also say Faith, Family, and Service are purposes. Your purpose should be short, direct, and based on Truth.
- Objective—This is a statement that explains why your purpose is important to you. For Relief Society, it could be to lift others up, be an instrument in God’s hands, live the gospel more fully, etc.
- Goals—A goal is something specific that is set, for a period of time, and has a deadline. Focus is given until the goal is completed before a new goal is set.
- Plan of Action—Goals cannot be completed without a plan of action. Don’t keep changing goals, change your plan of action. Plans sometimes need to be modified, reinstated, or developed in order to fulfill the goal.
- Evaluation—It is helpful to evaluate your progress in case your plan needs to be modified, more ideas need to be generated, or increased motivation and focus need to be reset. A final evaluation should take place to realize the success of completing your goal.
I believe a successful Visiting Teaching program can be realized with a firm goal in place. You decide what that goal should be and then set a plan to find success. Consider attitudes necessary to view visiting teaching as an important key to sisterhood.
Proper attitudes about Visiting Teaching:
- I need to gain a testimony of visiting teaching.
- Think: I am no longer filling slots, I am incorporating women into a sisterhood.
- Not all sisters have “problems”, but all sisters need help. How can I help?
- Consistent teaching is better than consistent nagging. Or in other words, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves” (Joseph Smith).
- Visiting teaching is the crux of the gospel in action. There is no room for last minute visiting teaching if I want my sister to understand that I truly care.
- I am training sisters for a lifetime of visiting teaching service.
Visiting teaching is not well defined. Over the years it has changed dramatically and ultimately been simplified for flexibility. Sometimes people just need to be given a detailed assignment. This is my suggestion for creating a successful, working, visiting teaching program in your Relief Society.
Quarterly Training Supervisor Meeting (MTSM)—Let the Presidency create responsibilities for the Supervisors. Give them tools and power to fulfill a meaningful calling. Do not take their responsibilities away from them once they are given. During the MTSM review responsibilities, expectations, experiences, shared interests amongst the sisterhood. This should be a positive and motivating meeting.
1) Put together a booklet for each Supervisor, which contains:
- Applicable portions of Handbook 2 that talk about the importance of visiting teaching.
- RS Presidency’s testimonies of visiting teaching.
- List of their district of sisters with phone numbers and emails. (This may change often; update add-in pages as needed)
- Purpose, Objective, Goals of ward Relief Society.
- List of responsibilities and expectations. If Supervisors realize you expect them to actually do something, they can learn to handle it responsibly. They may fail, but keep them accountable. Do not “do it for them”. If you have to turn in an incomplete report, so be it.
- List of ideas that give them stewardship (power) over their calling. They may want to create a newsletter or email that offers training, ideas, quotes, motivation, etc, to their districts. They may want to meet with their sisters, call them, or hold activities with them. (Discuss ideas at the MTSM.)
- Entrust in them the power to train their districts in whatever way they choose.
- Make sure they understand that “last minute” is no longer acceptable. State your expectations clearly.
- Suggested questions that will help each Supervisor get to know her district sisters. Use this information, during the MTSM, to bring like-minded sisters together in groups where talents and skills can be shared and developed.
2) Have Supervisors fill out a full report (create a form) according to information provided by visiting teachers. The Supervisor must see that her report is filled out in time to be turned in at the MTSM. This report should show which sisters are being contacted regularly, and which are not. Include information about each sister, her family, what she received as her spiritual message, how she felt about it, any concerns, issues, or problems; interesting experiences; any ideas or suggestions; personal interests; etc. This report should go to the Coordinator. If there is a private concern, the report should allow a check mark or note for the RS Pres., so she can call the visiting teacher directly. (The Supervisor or Coordinator need not know the circumstances.)
The purpose of this report is to show the president that each sister feels the love of another sister in the ward. If the president could, she would be out there visiting each and every sister, each and every month, to make sure that love is felt. You are her hands, arms, and feet.
Note: Back in the early days of Relief Society there was a visiting teaching meeting where sisters were held accountable for their assignments. Even though that meeting no longer exists, a RS President might initiate a meeting that supports and fulfills goals she has set for the benefit of her sisters. These ideas relieve the RS President of much of the burden and delegate it to others. We all need to delegate more and allow others the opportunity to serve and be accountable.
*These are my ideas and do not come from our RS leaders at Church Headquarters. But, if you use any of these ideas I would love to hear your experiences.