“Sometimes we think we have to do something grand and heroic to ‘count’ as serving our neighbors. Yet simple acts of service can have profound effects on others—as well as on ourselves. “
During the Sunday afternoon session of the 2018 April general conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced a significant change to the way members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serve and care for each other.
It was announced that the home teaching and visiting teaching programs were going to be “retired” becoming a coordinated effort called “ministering,” a “new and holier approach” to Christlike caring for others and helping meet their spiritual and temporal needs.
Just days before this historic announcement I was extended the calling of Relief Society President in my ward.
Although not yet sustained in this calling I remember listening and watching General Conference feeling completely overwhelmed at all the changes that were taking place.
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But I also felt excited.
I knew these were inspired changes and that my time serving as Relief Society President would be filled with helping and guiding the sisters in my ward to come to understand and love the new way of doing things.
It has been almost two years since the Church has dissolved the home and visiting teaching program.
And in these two years, my testimony of the ministering program has increased greatly. I have gained such an appreciation for ministering and I have spent so much time learning and studying what “ministering” means.
Many members are still feeling lost and confused when it comes to ministering. Many people are still stuck trying to figure out what “counts” and how to minister to others.
Ministering is no longer just a once a month visit.
No longer do you need to be assigned a “day route” or “evening route” because serving and loving someone doesn’t happen just during the day or after work.
We are encouraged to minister by making contact, getting to know them and becoming a friend, praying for them, and maintaining a relationship.
What is ministering?
According to ChurchofJesusChrist.org Ministering is
“Ministering is learning of and attending to others’ needs. It is doing the Lord’s work. When we minister, we are representing Jesus Christ and acting as His agents to watch over, lift, and strengthen those around us.
As members, we may determine through communication and inspiration the frequency and type of contact we will have with those to whom we minister. This customized contact will help us minister effectively and counsel quarterly with leaders regarding the needs of the individuals and families in our care.
The ways in which we can love and minister to one another are limitless. Every child of God is unique; therefore, effective ministering must be highly individualized and led by the Spirit. What works for one may not work for another. Leaders have encouraged Church members to begin ministering with prayer, keep it simple, and learn what works best for those they are called to serve. Ministering today no longer requires a formal visit. Interaction can take place at home, at church, or in any setting that is safe and convenient.
Sister Jean B. Bingham said, “Sometimes we think we have to do something grand and heroic to ‘count’ as serving our neighbors. Yet simple acts of service can have profound effects on others—as well as on ourselves.”
In short, ministering is being a friend.
It is knowing the needs of those you minister to.
It is helping, learning, loving and serving.
Ministering is not only making sure their temporal needs are taken care of- but their spiritual needs as well.
Elder Neil L. Andersen said: “Let us not be self-righteous, but let us be spiritually courageous in ministering in a holier way, specifically by strengthening the faith of others. “
We don’t “go ministering”
The biggest question I get is “but how do I minister? Is it just texting them? Is it just talking to them at church? Is it dropping off a treat?” To which I answer “yes!”
It can be a combination of those things and more.
It is doing what you feel prompted to do after praying specifically for them by name. As you pray for and interact with your families, you’ll know how to serve them. Always be aware of specific needs when you’re thinking of ways to minister to your families.
There are so many ways you can minister to someone. Here are 50 ways you can reach out, befriend, love and serve those you minister to.
- Pray for them by name every day
- Send a text to see how their day is going
- Drop off a treat (their favorite soda, cookies, canned jam, bread, a bag of candy, fruit from your tree, etc.)
- Remember their birthday by dropping off a gift or card, send a birthday wish through text, phone call, email or social media
- Comment on their Facebook or Instagram posts
- Sit by them at church or during church activities
- Offer to hold their fussy baby during Relief Society
- Bring dinner or freezer meals
- Remind them about church activities
- Remember their important dates and milestones (birthdays, missionary coming home, death in the family, anniversaries, new job, etc.) and make it a point to ask and check in on them
- Drop off, mail or text a quote, message, meme, etc. that you think would resonate with them.
- If they are new to the ward, introduce yourself, go and visit them at their home.
- Offer to pick them up for activities
- Develop trust by showing interest in their life
- Go on a walk together
- Go out to lunch
- Go out for ice cream
- Babysit so they can attend the temple
- Read the scriptures or study Come Follow Me together
- Recommend uplifting podcasts, books, or movies they might enjoy
- Sign up for a 5K
- Encourage them during their trials by being a listening ear
- Check in often through text, phone call, or stopping by
- Schedule a visit as prompted or needed
- Go to the temple together
- Go on a double date with your spouses
- Bring in their trash cans
- Offer to collect their mail when they go out of town
- Ask them how they want to be ministered to
- Host FHE for your families
- Have their children over for play dates when appropriate
- Write them a note telling them what you love and admire about them
- Drop off a plant or flower
- Shovel their walk way when it snows
- Ask them what their children and\or spouse are up to
- Attend the choir or band performances of their children
- Sign up for a class together (exercise, painting, cake decorating, etc.)
- Offer to drive their kids to school on snowy days
- Ask them to tell you about their childhood
- Teach them how to index either in person or over the phone
- Pray to love them
- On holidays drop off a card or gift or send a text or email
- Offer to pick something up for them when you go the grocery store
- Attend sporting events that their family participates in
- Recognize when their life is busy and insist on bringing dinner, help with chores, doing yard work, etc.
- Choose to not repeat gossip you might hear about them
- Always speak kindly about them in front of others
- Greet them with a smile
- Host a game night
- Bare your testimony to them
- Read the same book and then discuss either in person or over the phone
- Facetime each other or by using an app like Marco Polo to stay in touch
- Fast for them or with them
- Read the same Conference talk or Ensign article together and discuss online or in person
- Play online games together
As ministering brothers and sisters it’s important to remember that it isn’t so much about what we do– but the love, compassion, thoughtfulness and the spirit that it is done in and how it makes someone else feel.
As those receiving service and love from someone else, it might just be a plate of cookies or a quick text- but let’s be mindful of the fact that it is a simple act of love that no one else got.
Ministering in the church is so important. It doesn’t need to be hard. Just remember to love like Christ did and pray for your ministering families and it will come easily to you.
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