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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creative Home Teaching: Ideas Wanted

What are your best ideas for creative home teaching?

During a lunch conversation recently, a friend told me about a talk he heard in Utah about the need to be more open in how it is done. The speaker suggested that it might be OK to come by late at night for a few minutes when that's what schedules demand, or to stop by with a plate of cookies on a Saturday morning. Listeners were asked to focus on the essence of home teaching which is showing love for others, something that can be done in many ways.

So let me ask you, what are some creative examples of home teaching that you've tried or seen? I'm looking for interesting approaches that can help others be more effective. This includes tips for those being home taught - we should try to help those trying to do their duty, even when we are "too busy" to be home taught.

22 comments:

esodhiambo said...

e-mail
become facebook friends
getting two or three families together for Sunday Dinner (or other days)
Asking families what frequency of visits would work best: monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, etc.
Watch General Conference together
Attend kids' games ad watch together
Giving people the names and contact numbers of their hometeachers--otherwise some people would have no idea who theirs were.

I will be interested to see what other's say. For me with VT, my biggest downfall has been having a companion; somehow, you can match up two schedules well enough, but matching up 3 familys' schedules is exponentially harder.

A.J. said...

I got one show of more than once a year.

Scott Edwards said...

Something our Elder's quorum president recently asked us to do is to ask "what has you worried these days?" or "what's keeping you up at night?" instead of asking "is there anything we can do?" Poeple are accustomed to the latter question and usually brush it off. A newly phrased question will probably make them stop and think, maybe even open up a bit. But as a foundation to all of that, I think doing things together is key in building up trust. Dinner invitations, FHE invites, etc. have helped build those relationships. Just my $0.02.

cougartex said...

For people being home taught, they could offer to make the home teachers a cake or cookies on the first of the month. Then the home teachers gets the goodies whatever day they come. Might dissuade from home teaching at the end of the month.

bwebster said...

I tend to do my home teaching on Sunday afternoon; it tends to work out best for my families (even though one of them is the bishop). However, our meeting schedule was 2 to 5 pm for the first half of this year, and I must say that my HT suffered greatly.

I usually bake something (pie, bread, cookies) and bring it fresh and still warm with me. I also make sure to keep the visit relatively short, leaving while everyone still seems to be happy to have me there. :-) ..bruce..

ScriptureGolf said...

I think the most important thing is to love your families. Pray for an increased love towards them, and then express that love and make sure you're consistent. Cookies are fine, but your families will know that you love and care about them if you're simply consistent, and if you share a spiritual message with them when you arrive (instead of just talking about sports, etc.).

I think one sign that you're making a difference (in spite of whatever approach you may take) is when your families take the initiative to call you for help of some kind.

Mex Davis said...

I've had problems with visiting some busy families in the past. One Sunday we had breakfast with a family with a lession at the table. I even introduced the kids to peanut butter on pancakes. It was a hit. To this very day, 20 years later, I get Christmas cards from the family and they talk about Bro Mex and the peanut butter on pancakes. It is still the family favorate for breakfast. I've also brought lunch over on a Saturday noon visit. BarBQ invites, double dates to the movies, camping trips, Temple sessions, yard work and etc. We one at time would ask the Father of one family what he wanted us to teach that month and it always piggy backed with his FHE lessons. The kids thought we're inspired everytime. Never told the kids the truth. I would for one young girl from one of my families give her a birthday card every year even when I wasn't assigned to the family. Every year she would wait and she'd say "I knew you would come Bro. Mex'. I wasn't a perfect HT but there are some good memories.

Scott and Jillian said...

I agree with the comments so far. Just loving your families and being their friends goes a long way. Even just saying 'Hi" at church can be a big deal. We've had HTers in the past who wouldn't even acknowledge us at church.

Giving them your phone numbers is a really good idea, as well as invitations to events, dinner, etc. Also, calling to see if they are going to attend an upcoming church social is good, too. Then they will feel like someone cares if they go or not.

cj said...

Honestly, it's not creative or exciting, but I think the best thing a VT can do is listen! Nothing makes for an inspired visit like a really good conversation. My VT in college was (and still is) a super listener; I always felt like I could be honest with her, and that feeling led to some really good communication. When I was struggling, I knew I could tell her about it. Years later, she and I are still good friends.

Be Generous With Your Own Money said...

Some people don't want a big religious message, so you can to to gain their interest and trust by showing Ron Paul videos from YouTube. Just a suggestion!

Shauna said...

As a single mother I have yet to have a really good home teacher, I invite them to come over for dessert for Home Teaching and I disagree with the person who posted suggesting it earlier. It only gets them there, it doesn't make them good or act like they care for other than their numbers. I think the one thing I would appreciate the most is if I felt I was more than a number they were checking off.

The Law Worketh Death said...

I suggest freeing ourselves from the guilt and shame caused by duty and fear. Then we will be able to love people unconditionally, and we will not need to worry about coming up with creative ways to disguise the fact that we are keeping the law for the sake of the law rather than out of love.

Michael H said...

One creative HT idea I saw implemented was in my BYU freshman ward. The EQ had decided we set the standard and the standard was 100% HT for the month, so we set out as a quorum to do it. We technically achieved the goal though for one girl who was literally rarely home and her HT kept trying to get a hold of her without success they had to get creative. The HT made an audio CD with their message on it and left it for her.
Sure you don't want to get too carried away by stats and keep in mind this was a freshman ward, but it was still sweet and it did help unify the ward.

Papa D said...

Our PH leaders announced today that they have totally revamped most of the HT assignments in the ward. They have focused on establishing partnerships where the two people live reasonably close to each other (to make it easier to get together and see people), limiting the geographic size of each route (to make it easier to see people) and arranging about half the assignments to be an Elder and a HP companionship (to make the first two things practical and to make it easier to see people).

I agree with the suggestions thus far, but I also really like erasing artificial barriers to actually being able to see people.

Wookface said...

Though we should all work for 100% home teaching, we should never think of our home teachees as "another statistic". The whole purpose of home teaching isn't to share a spiritual message with a family. If that were the case, we wouldn't need home teaching at all! We get enough spiritual messages at church.

The purpose of home teaching is to help each other out, to uplift, support, assist and love. However that can be accomplished is probably a good idea and, in my opinion, should be counted as "home teaching" for the month, whether its visiting a member for a few minutes and sharing a brief spiritual message, or whether its helping a home teachee with homework when they really need it (I'm in college, not applicable to many of you, I know).

One thing that I would say is a must is going to their HOME to visit with them. I know that certain areas make this difficult, especially in terms of geographic locations and time, but the program isn't called "meet after church in the foyer teaching" its called HOME teaching. We need to be with the members, in their homes, because that is where their concerns and needs will become apparent, not at church. Anyway, just a few of my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Each family is unique. I loved reading all of these ideas. There is no one way to home teach. We've found success by thoughtfully and prayerfully considering how to approach each family. More ideas to consider certainly helps!

I loved the idea suggested about inviting the HTrs over. Usually works great, but doesn't always work. I was surprised to find that some home teachers won't come over, even if I invite them. Maybe I was too pushy? They went less active...works better with good-intentioned, lazy HTrs.

Some of my less active families required that I develop a relationship with them first as a friend, over time. Then I was able to be a home teacher, even with lessons chosen by the families.

Persistence. My Dad "HT'd" an elderly man for years, but was never allowed to discuss the church or have a religious message. But he still went each month to visit for many years until the man died. I went with him many times and the man seemed to enjoy the visits. Was a great lesson to me as a youth.

Definitely, an absolute must, is to remember special occasions and holidays for the family, and to recognize family members on special events and birthdays. Even just a card on these events is enough to let them know you are a true HTr, not just an assignment.

Michael H said...

Another idea I learned and sadly I haven't been able to apply yet is to have a routine setup with your hometeachies. When I was a teenager and paired up with a HP every 2nd Tuesday of the month as reasonable as possible we home taught all 3 of our families in one evening. We knew we were coming and so did our families. We also made sure that we never stayed over a half-hour except if prompted by the spirit which usually happened with the less active family we visited at the end of the evening.

Again this is something I'd love to implement in my life again, but it's hard with one being assigned so many individuals to HT and also having Hometeachies and/or companions who are willing to commit to a set time every week. I'm in a YSA ward that meets in the afternoon and I've tried to arrange Sunday morning home teaching, but getting 20somethings to give up on sleeping in or even keeping half an hour open on a weeknight is like pulling teeth. I try to get mine done, but everyone including myself has such busy schedules it's hard to coordinate along with instead of having just 3 families I have 10 individuals on my route.

I think a big thing is for both home teacher and hometeachies to have a testimony of the importance of it that they will make time for it. Alas easier said than done no matter how many cookies you bake in bribery. :P

Mr. Hayashi said...

I think "creative" ideas for HT is pretty good, though I believe that the better you get at becoming consistent, "inspired" may be a better word. Nonetheless, I understand the intent here.

Some underlying philosophies first:
* It is said that HT should not be treated as a statistic. In a related way, HT is about quality, not quantity. Well, I take issue with however way you want to say that. I submit that there *is no* quality unless there is quantity. If it takes the "lower law" to get to the "higher law," then so be it. IOW, if a companionship has to do HT based on getting good statistics and it gets them in those homes, then so be it. I submit that even a "statistical" visit can be valuable. (On the porch at 11:55 p.m. on the 31st of the month, nearly ding dong ditch type of HT-ing doesn't count, however.)
* If there is accountability, HT percentages will increase. Think of the temple endowment. There is accountability throughout.
* High HT percentages can be a result of creating a culture of HT-ing. (In this ward, this is what we do.)

Some ideas (that have worked):

1. Have HT District Leaders call the Snr Comp on the 15th of the month and ask for a HT report. If not visited yet, DL asks (charitably), "Do you know by what day you will visit your families?" Then the DL follows up the day after that date with another phone call. If still not done, repeat the process. This is a proactive use of DL's instead of them casually waiting at the phone at the EOM for their report.

2. Have monthly PPI's with the Snr. Comp and ask him how his families are doing. Ask him to report if each family is having family prayer, scripture study, and FHE. If done every month, the Snr Comp knows he's going to be asked (accountability) and will get off his duff to do his HT.

3. Instead of passing out papers in EQ with their HT assignments, give the companionship their assignments in a PPI. This gives a feeling of more importance to their calling as a HT.

I have witnessed HT reach near 100% using the principles of accountability and creating a culture of HT. Because HT was being done with more consistency, there was more quality and therefore done more out of love than duty.

Amy said...

My husband is in the military and we have lived overseas for the past 8 years. Once upon a time this kind of distance from home might have been limited to the military and a few rare exceptions. Now everyone seems to move away from home to where the jobs are.

For us, our ward family became our real family. We had no one else to rely one. We couldn't even go home for holidays. Home and visiting teaching was still sometimes about "getting it done" but we knew and loved each other. I knew exactly who to call on when I needed help, even if they hadn't been in a few months. As some of the the others have said, Home teaching is about building relationships and caring for one another, not numbers or "gold stars".

Something else I have noticed is that we often leave the Lord out of it. If we are praying about our families (or sisters) and thinking about what they may need, then acting on our impressions, we will fulfill the calling of Home or Visiting teacher better than if we try and come up with something on our own.

Anonymous said...

Everyone could quit pretending that we ought to enjoy home teaching. It is a burden to everyone - both the families being "taught" and the home teachers. Just quit coming. That is my plea.

twitterpated said...

If you've seen anti-Mormon sites, you might notice that the saved by grace folks castigate us for wanting to obey God. Their argument is that salvation does not require ANY work. You can't be perfect, so why even try is their stance. They seem to think this is a great way to convince Mormons to abandon ship.

If you ask me, they're missing the boat. All they need to say is -- Don't do your home teaching or visiting teaching. You don't need to work to please God. Just claim is grace is enough, and you can skip all your church assignments!

It might be a convincing argument. Who knows?

Here's what you never knew about Mormons, but which Christian evangelists feel you ought to know:

(1) Mormons go crazy in a quest for perfection that cannot be reached. They take the Lord's commandments seriously, so that means they believe they save themselves by their own works. Try to live perfectly? Are they crazy? Some disobedience has to be excused by grace, so you might as well excuse it ALL and forget about repenting.

(2) Mormons don't know that Jesus is God. They can't worship Jesus or pray to him. Never mind that the Nephites do it in the Book of Mormon. Never mind that throughout the Doctrine and Covenants Joseph Smith is always worshipping Jesus and talking to him. We don't pay any attention to what Joseph Smith really did. We just make stuff up that sounds rotten instead of checking with the Holy Spirit to see what he says about it.

(3) Mormons think Jesus Christ was created. Never mind that the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine of Covenants say Jesus is the Creator. Mormon's don't know that Jesus is the God of Israel, the Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts. No, they think he's the brother of Satan. Or something. Anyway, just equate Mormonism with Satan worship.

(4) Mormons don't believe in hell, but you can make them think that they are going to outer darkness if you scare them with it. Just tell them they can never be perfect enough to please their Heavenly Father and they will run straight away from that awful cult that tells them to obey Jesus Christ. After all, it's easier to just kick back and sin, when you're covered by the grace umbrella.

(5) Remember, Mormons don't really believe the Bible. They don't believe faith alone saves. They keep on saying faith without works is dead. Yeah, that's in the Bible, but don't be a Mormon and take the Bible in context, or you'll keep harping on repentance. And nobody can repent enough to be saved. That shows Mormons belong to a cult that wants to control them by telling them to keep Jesus' commandments. In fact, all they really need to do is say they are saved by grace, and life's a piece of cake.

You, too, can escape home teaching. According to our Christian brothers, if you don't like what God asks you to do, all you have to do plead the grace of God, and you're covered.

Who knew?

Anonymous said...

What is PPI?