Jeff Borders joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 19, and since then has had many opportunities to serve in various capacities. His wife, Crystyne, was integral to his conversion while they were dating, and he believes her to be one of the best missionaries he has ever met. When not serving at Church, Jeff works as the Manager of Respiratory Therapy and Clinical Informatics at a rural hospital in Eastern Washington, and the Station Captain for his local volunteer fire station. He has a passion for educating and co-instructs many of the training classes at his hospital for nursing and respiratory staff.

Enter Jeff…

Having never had a child leave home yet, I was unsure how I would feel when my time came. That time came quicker than I could’ve realized, and I couldn’t help but wonder if my wife and I had done everything we could to prepare our son for life in the ‘big world’. To be fair, I don’t know what we did to raise good level-headed children, but somehow, during our own learning to become parents, our children are becoming the men and women of God we’ve always seen them as.

Home Temple Discissions

During my son’s senior year, and particularly toward the end of his senior year, we had many discussions on his plans. He’d been accepted to BYU and was already preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood as soon as he turned 18. Our discussions invariably turned toward the temple and we began our home temple prep with him.

To be honest, this wasn’t the actual beginning of our temple discussion with any of our children, as we regularly encouraged them to ask questions and we shared with them what we could in appropriate circumstances.

A Commitment to God

The temple was on my son’s mind, as one of his friends had challenged him, if he could, to go to the temple every week while at college. As he prepared for his meeting with the Stake Presidency about the Melchizedek Priesthood he asked if he should receive his endowment before heading off to college. I remember telling him that I thought it was a good idea if he felt that he was ready. I also advised him, that if he decided to wait a little bit, that was okay as well. I explained that if he decided to go to the temple now, he wouldn’t regret it and that the temple endowment is a sign of commitment to God. My son later told me that those words were a major catalyst, as he said to himself, ‘I do want that commitment, so why wait?”

Strength Beyond Our Own

Fast forward a couple weeks and we are in the temple together as our son stands before his Father in Heaven and makes eternal covenants. My heart swelled with happiness to see him take this step on the covenant path.

Now, five months later, he has gone to the temple every week and is keeping the challenge from his friend. His example of receiving his endowment and going to the temple has also encouraged his friends to do the same.

For example, over school winter break, those of his friends who were not endowed yet went into the temple to make those covenants. It just so happened that while his friends were in the temple, we were also in a temple in a different state. Yet even though were were miles away, they were still connected by an eternal experience. Why did these friends choose to receive their endowment? My son explained that he took what we taught him and had deep conversations with his friends regarding the blessings and symbolism of the temple.

Home Is the Center of Temple Prep

What led us to this point? Well, it all started with a concerted effort on the part of my wife and I to make our home the center of temple prep, as we were encouraged to do by Elder Bednar in his talk, “Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing”:

“Vital temple preparation classes occur in our homes; important but secondary temple preparation classes also may be conducted periodically in our meetinghouses.”

Talk Openly and Frequently

As a convert to the church at 19, I had no clue what to expect in the temple, and other than a few small lessons from Endowed from On High,  and the book The Holy Temple, by Boyd K. Packer, I felt wholly unprepared as I entered the doors of the temple. My wife, who grew up in the Church, felt similar, as it wasn’t common in her house or many places to speak of the ordinances within the temple.

After talking with many people, I discovered that they had similar temple prep experiences. We wanted to not repeat that with our children and committed to talking as openly and frequently about the temple as we could.

On a separate note, and this could be another article, but as someone used to liturgy in worship due to my history in the Presbyterian Church, when I actually got to the ordinance, the ceremonial nature of the temple actually felt somewhat familiar and comfortable.

A Task from the Bishop

During my time serving as Sunday School President, the bishop reached out to myself and the Ward Temple and Family History Leader to lead a discussion on temple prep in the home. Our callings, mine over teaching and his over temple and family history work, seemed to be the perfect combination for this 5th Sunday lesson.

Prior to this assignment, I’d already informally created a lesson plan for teaching about the temple that my wife and I loosely used with my son. I had developed it when serving in a prior bishopric as we discussed how best to prepare people for the temple.

Now I know what you are saying, “There already is a temple prep course, called Endowed from On High,” and you would be right. However, there has been a lot more guidance on what we can and should discuss and there are way more resources for learning about the temple that the Church has made available.

My simple goal was to develop something that built off the existing resource while adding in newer material and resources. After much study and prayer to make sure I was consistent with church teachings, I had what I believed would be a beneficial tool for our members, both young and old. I presented it to the bishop and he said he wanted me to share it with the ward during our 5th Sunday discussion.

What I had actually developed were two separate plans, one for those preparing for their endowment and one for youth preparing to go to the temple for the first time. The lesson plan draws heavily from Endowed from On High, talks from Church leaders, the General Handbook, temple on the Church website, and several articles regarding temple ritual and symbolism. The ward temple plan includes links to videos from the Church on the temple as well, making it an interactive document, and includes questions for those taking the lessons to ponder on between lessons.

Guidelines to Teaching

In his same talk mentioned earlier, Elder Bednar gave two principles, or guidelines, that I worked with in developing the plans.

Guideline #1: Because we love the Lord, we always should speak about His holy house with reverence. We should not disclose or describe the special symbols associated with the covenants we receive in sacred temple ceremonies. Neither should we discuss the holy information that we specifically promise in the temple not to reveal.

Guideline #2: The temple is the house of the Lord. Everything in the temple points us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. We may discuss the basic purposes of and the doctrine and principles associated with temple ordinances and covenants.

In August of 1985 President Ezra Taft Benson offered this:

“The temple is a sacred place, and the ordinances in the temple are of a sacred character. Because of its sacredness we are sometimes reluctant to say anything about the temple to our children and grandchildren. As a consequence, many do not develop a real desire to go to the temple, or when they go there, they do so without much background to prepare them for the obligations and covenants they enter into. I believe a proper understanding or background will immeasurably help prepare our youth for the temple … [and] will foster within them a desire to seek their priesthood blessings just as Abraham sought his.”

Our Ward Temple Preparation Plan

Our ward temple lesson plan for those preparing to receive their endowment consists of seven lessons:

  1. Doctrinal Purpose of the Temple/Celestial Life
  2. Personal Worthiness
  3. Becoming Familiar with Ceremony and Ritual
  4. Sacred Clothing
  5. The Power and Purpose of the Endowment Ceremony
  6. The 5 Major Covenants
  7. Back to the presence of the Father/Celestial life

Our ward temple lesson plan for youth preparing to go to the temple consists of three lessons:

  1. Purpose of Temple and Temple Covenants
  2. Our Path to Enter the temple
  3. Baptisms for the Dead

This plan was presented to our ward as a 5th Sunday discussion, we received good feedback from multiple sources that they used it and it was helpful.

My son said he felt very comfortable going into the temple for the very first time, and the next day we were back in the temple participating in the initiatory. Some of the reason newly endowed members are feeling more comfortable is likely due to the recent changes in the endowment, which offer increased focus on the Savior and the plan of salvation.

Plant Ourselves on the Covenant Path

There are many more examples of the brethren asking us to teach about the temple. But with the talks from Elder Bednar and President Benson we can see the necessity of learning about the sacred ordinances. Indeed, we are repeatedly encouraged to be in the temple and seek out the covenants there that can bind us to Heavenly Father. In October 2023, Elder D. Todd Christofferson said this while speaking of the sealing power and the temple:

“Why is this so important? Because the very reason the earth was created was so families could be formed and sealed to each other. Salvation is an individual matter, but exaltation is a family matter. No one can be exalted alone.”

A few talks later President Oaks also said the same thing. The Brethren are encouraging us to find ourselves in the House of the Lord, to bind ourselves to our families and to our Heavenly Father in eternal covenantal bonds. Now more than ever, in a world of confusion and chaos, it is essential to anchor ourselves in the doctrines of Jesus Christ and His power to bind us to Him through eternal covenantal bonds.

We continue to hear from our leaders to plant ourselves on the covenant path.

Though small, this was our effort to gather and strengthen Zion with the myriad of resources the Church has made available to us.

The Power of Temple Ordinances for Our Youth

In a recent Stake Conference, the visiting general authority encourage youth to receive their endowments as soon as they are ready after graduating high school. Just like getting someone to the temple to do proxy work shortly after their baptism, it would appear that the earlier we introduce the temple ordinances to our youth, the more strength those covenants can offer them as they leave home and enter the big world.

Regardless of what you choose to do as a ward or as parents, it’s best to start early and talk about the temple often, especially expressing your feelings about the temple. If you have children, allow your children to see you making the temple a priority in your life.

The Temple for All Times and Seasons

If you don’t have children, continue to seek the blessing of temple worship and be an example to those around you. Invite others to go to the temple with you. If you haven’t been to the temple yet, I can only encourage you to go. As I said to my son, you will not regret your decision.

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