The tricky thing about changing home teaching results for the better is the fact that human beings are involved. This leads to tough conversations that most Elder’s Quorum Presidents would rather avoid. What if a large part of the problem resided not in the people but rather in the environment? Maybe the fact they have to drive 45 minutes to home teach plays into the discouragement. Instead of training individuals to become more able at home teaching you should just make the task easier. This seems unnatural because we feel home teaching is not supposed to be easy — therefore we make it difficult without even realizing.
Many of us don’t think of the task of home teaching to have an environment — let alone do we think the environment is actually working against us. Let’s analyze some of these barriers and see what steps could be taken to make it easier.
MAKE THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE
The Home Teaching List
We all know the drill. Near the beginning of a new month the Elder’s Quorum President stands in front of the quorum while he clenches little strips of paper that are still warm from the clerk’s office printer. He’s ready to deal out the home teaching assignments! The excitement is like Christmas morning…..right?
Um…NO. Not even close.
Each person gets their slip of paper and this is how the commentary goes inside one’s head.
Brother Puzzled: Let’s see….my companion is Brother Nevabinhere….I’m not sure who that is. Looks like we home teach the Fernsby’s, the Karbashewsky’s, and the Bartoszewicz. Who on earth are these people?
These smalls pieces of paper with names become just small pieces of paper with names — nothing more.
Power of Pictures
Imagine if each strip of paper also had attached pictures of their companion and each family they are assigned? Think of the clarity this would give when Brother Puzzled realizes the Karbashewsky’s are that family he always sits behind in sacrament meeting and the Fernsby’s are the couple that share their testimonies every single month. Suddenly he has a starting point. Just by making the assignment more visible it is more likely to be done.
Are you telling me I have to take a picture of everyone in my ward?
For the sake of improving home teaching taking pictures sounds pretty easy and many wards already do it. Young Single Adult Wards are known for their picture directories. If it wasn’t for the picture directory of my YSA ward I would have never learned my wife’s name. I guess I could have asked her but that is so old fashion.
Encourage your bishopric to call someone with the responsibility of taking pictures of everyone on the rolls.
It’s time to add another word to your vocabulary. Propinquity — which is another way to refer to physical proximity. The same power that makes you workout more often because your treadmill is in front of the TV also works for home teaching. Where things are located and how they relate play a large roll on whether someone is visited or not. The fact that someone has to drive 45 minutes just to home teach someone might be a huge barrier. Even the fact that they have to get in a car might be too much for some.
Assign by geographic location
If they could walk to all the families’ homes this might change their lack of motivation. People naturally watch over each other when they live close; you might as well allow them to home teach one another. This also benefits your emergency preparedness program. If a natural disaster hits it’s important to be familiar with the people close by.
Plot every person on a map and see which assignments would make the most sense based on geographic location. This may not work for every single assignment but you may be surprised by the boost it gives home teaching results.
Propinquity can play many roles in a quorum’s effectiveness. Having home teaching districts sit in groups during quorum meeting might be a good idea.
MAKE IT EASY
Many times the solution so plainly in sight that you can’t see it all.
What came first the friend or the home teacher?
The LDS church website defines home teachers as someone with “responsibility to watch over the members of the Church, home teachers visit their assigned families at least once each month to teach and strengthen them. Home teachers establish a relationship of trust with these families so that the families can call upon them in times of need.”
Many ward members already have friends that naturally do this. When they get sick they tell their friend. They visit them many times a month. They already have a relationship of trust and always receive a call in times of need. Some friends don’t cover all these bases but when they receive the assignment to be their home teacher it won’t take much to get to that point. The more friends they have on their list the less likely they will feel like they are “home teaching”. That means they can be assigned more families that may not fall into the “friend” catagory…..yet.
When seeking vital change never forget about what surrounds you in your environment.
Solving Home Teaching Through the Six-Source Model is a series of posts based off of the book Influencer: The Power to Change Anything.