Sandy Utah Willow Creek Stake Presidency, Joe Staples, Davis Smith, and Alan Matheson share their experiences teaching the youth in their stake about the gospel topics essays, as well as members struggling with their faith.

Joe Staples recently stepped away from a 22-year career as Chief Marketing Officer and is now a Go-to-Market Advisor, using his experience to help other companies succeed. Joe grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints right after his high school graduation, then attended Brigham Young University and served a mission in Brazil. He previously served as a bishop in Seattle, Washington.

Alan Matheson is the Executive Director of the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority, overseeing planning and development of the 600-acres of state land currently occupied by the Utah State Prison in Draper. He served a mission to the Canada Calgary, Spanish-speaking mission and has served in bishoprics, elders quorum, and with the young men.

Davis Smith is the Founder-CEO of Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear brand based in Salt Lake City, Utah with a social mission at its core. His father worked for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Latin America and Davis grew up there before later serving a mission to Bolivia.


04:10 About the Willow Creek Stake
05:20 Teaching the youth about the gospel topics essays

  • 5 sessions each year, the 5 months before high school senior-age youth graduate from high school, so that they have faith-based answers to questions they may encounter
  • 10:30 These youth usually have a basic knowledge of the topics, but much of the details they are not aware of
  • 13:00 Young adults struggling with their faith often leave the Church because of a lack of trust
  • 16:00 Held a fireside in advance, inviting both the youth and their parents; surveyed the youth about topics they were most interested in
  • 20:10 They are going to encounter these topics at some point, and discussing them in a trusting environment where they can ask questions and get answers will serve them later

24:00 Ministering to those with faith challenges

  • Trained stake and ward councils on how to approach this with members
  • Stake Relief Society also taught alongside them
  • 27:30 Used the structure of the topics of trust, belonging, and meaning

31:30 “Group therapy” with elders quorum presidents from the stake where they could ask questions and find moral support
32:45 “Look for what you can do”; the pandemic has been an opportunity to change for the better
35:00 President Matheson’s experience feeling love for the people of the stake and recognizing that the Savior must love him even more; recognizing the source of his comfort and hope in the Savior, and that his job as a leader is to help others access the Savior


How I Lead as Stake President | An Interview with Joe Staples
Weaving a Vision into Your Service | An Interview with Davis Smith
Planted, by Patrick Mason
Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question, by David Ostler
Ministering to Those Who Question | An Interview with David Ostler
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