There you sit in sacrament meeting; there he goes for the podium. The congregation moans internally as this sincere brother approaches the podium for the fifth month in a row during fast and testimony meeting. You can see the bishopric fidget in unison. You sit back and wait for him to, once again, share his interesting perspective on Kolob.
In another scenario you are sitting in Elder’s Quorum and the teacher begins with, “The lesson in the manual looks very interesting but it would be more worth a discussion to consider why Cain has become Bigfoot.” If you are the leader presiding in this meeting you can feel every eye on you saying, “Save us!!” Typically, the false doctrine or waste-of-time jargon usually happens in sacrament meeting because the speaker is different each week and the bishopric will ask someone to speak without having time to vet them sufficiently. It’s tough to anticipate if someone spends their free time chasing Bigfoot through the forest. No matter how it happens, it puts you (the presiding leader) in a tough spot. So what options do you have other than painfully getting through the meeting without saying a word? Doing nothing isn’t always the best choice.
Step One: SAY SOMETHING!
Whether you know what to say or not–say something. Do not sit back in your chair and pray he realizes the waste of time he is creating. Simply raise your hand.
Step Two: Respectfully acknowledge the best interest of the group.
Bring to light the fact that those in attendance were expecting the scheduled lesson to be taught. By doing this the instructor knows you are seeking the best interest of the class rather than trying to embarrass him.
Step Three: Share a personal insight on the topic and then ask the speaker and class for further insights. Turn attention back to the material in the lesson and try to see if others have comments to add.
Step Four: Ask the teacher if you can take a few minutes on the desired lesson plan before he moves forward with his other material. You are the presiding authority so, of course, he will let you take some time.
It may go something like this…
Brother Sasquatch: I’m excited to teach the lesson today. The lesson in the manual looks very interesting but I think it would be more worth our time to consider why Cain has become Bigfoot.
President You: (Raise hand) Brother Sasquatch, If we could take a glance at the lesson in the manual considering most were expecting this to be taught I’d like to say a few words about it. It’s about Latter-Day Prophets. Has anyone here ever met a living prophet that would like to share that experience? (discussion may continue for a few minutes)
President You: Wow, interesting stories! Brother Sasquatch, I’d like to just spend a few more minutes on some points in this lesson before we get to your information. Let’s turn to page 32 and read a paragraph or two….
You can continue with the lesson until you feel comfortable including Brother Sasquatch or you can end the class early. Even though you might not have anything planned, a strong attempt at teaching the lesson is better than wasting time on an odd topic.
There are a variety of ways that false doctrine or odd topics are introduced to a congregation or class. It may not happen at the beginning of the class like the example above. It may happen after the teacher has been talking for 15 minutes. Regardless of when Brother Sasquatch gets off topic, the same steps will work. In short, respectfully take control of the class and lead it in the right direction.
What are your thoughts? How have you seen bad teaching situations diffused?