President Russell M. Nelson and other church leaders continue to encourage members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to become involved in Temple and Family History work, as in the quote below. They emphasize its importance again and again. However many people believe that family history is difficult, overly technical, or only for the older generation.
Those who fall in love with family history learn that it is really about finding inspiration in a family’s story, both past and present, then connecting ancestors together and into your own family through temple ordinances.
How can those who have fallen in love with family history help others overcome their reluctance and find joy in seeking out their own families? So many ideas were presented in the LDS Classes at RootsTech 2019! Here are 5 things I learned:
1. The Doctrine of Family History Draws People to Their Ancestors
The first step is to help people understand the doctrine of Family History. Elder and Sister Bednar gave a beautiful lesson on the doctrine at Family Discovery Day. They taught that WE are the gatherers. Gathering Heavenly Father’s children is the responsibility of our generation, and it is the MOST IMPORTANT thing we can be doing. As we help those around us understand the doctrine, they will begin to feel the spirit of Elijah, which is the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of families. This spirit is what draws people to their family members on both sides of the veil.
2. Discovery Is Key
Tamra Stansfield said, “The biggest thing we can do is help people turn their hearts to the fathers.” We begin to do this through simple Discovery experiences. In fact, Stansfield stated that “Discovery Experiences trump any training or tools that we can offer people.” This is because the spirit of Elijah comes through discovery. Elder and Sister Bednar illustrated this principle during their presentation on Family Discovery Day. Sister Bednar asked Elder Bednar to share one of his favorite stories about an ancestor. At the conclusion of the story, she asked him to share in two or three words how this experience made him feel. She then turned to the audience and invited everyone to do the same exercise with the person sitting next to them. After this exercise, Elder Bednar pointed out that the words people use to describe their feelings when thinking about, discovering, and remembering ancestors are very similar to the words that Paul used in Galatians 5:22 to describe the fruit of the spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…” Elder Bednar taught that as we Discover our ancestors, we feel the fruit of the spirit. This is what inspires us to continue to try to learn more and ultimately to seek out ancestors in need of temple ordinances.
To help people find joy in temple and family history work, we need to keep three things in mind: the Spirit, Spontaneity, and Simplicity. This applies whether you are a family history consultant, parent, or simply trying to find ways to minister to a friend or family member. Think about what will help others connect and belong in their families, both immediate and extended. What would the person enjoy? There is no one-size-fits-all experience that will work for everyone. As we pray to have opportunities to share the joy of family history in some way, we will be amazed at the moments that will be given to us, and they won’t always be planned. It’s all about open conversations and inspired questions. It’s all about the individual. Keep it simple.
4. Use the Tools that are Available
The theme of Elder and Sister Bednar’s presentation was You CAN do this! This was also an underlying theme of most of the LDS classes at Roots Tech. Presenters urged us to use what we have been given to help others. We have valuable tools at our fingertips! We need to use the technology that has been developed to make family history work easier and more fun. Three tools that were mentioned over and over were:
Not everyone will be ready to become a researcher right away. Let those who are interested in research work on adding people to the tree. Ordinances Ready will allow others to help get the temple work done.
Family Search Apps
Your phone is a family history library. EVERYONE should be familiar with and using the Family Tree and Memories apps on our phones. It is easy, and it is addicting! You can read more about how to use these apps in my post, 5 Ways to do Family History in 5 Minutes or Less.
The new In-Home activities page is a great resource that has been developed to help families create family history every day. It focuses on simple discovery activities and conversations. These activities can also be used by consultants or others who want to help families and individuals get involved in family history. Nicole and I were able to interview Mike Sandberg, the man at FamilySearch behind this project. Read about that interview here.
5. We Will Have Help as We Strive to Fulfill Our Role as Gatherers
Our generation is one that has been anticipated for centuries. The following quote by Joseph Smith was used in multiple classes during the week to emphasize this truth: “
We are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-Day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in, and help to roll forward the Latter-Day glory–a work that God and angels have contemplated with delight, for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets–a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family.”
Elder Bednar closed his remarks at Family Discovery Day with these words: “These are OUR Days, and WE are the Gatherers. I promise that as you consistently act and do the very simple things you know you should do, you will become ever more effective in the work of gathering Israel, and you will help many individuals and families on both sides of the veil. Your capability and service will be magnified. I promise the doors will open. Heavenly help will be available to you, and you will be blessed to know that you CAN do this. Your personal assurance will grow that the course of life which you are pursuing is in accordance with God’s holy mind and will.”
What beautiful promises! I came away from RootsTech filled with inspiration and ideas! We are blessed to live in a time when technology and tools are constantly evolving to help us fulfill this work…OUR work! I’m ready to hit the ground running! What have you been inspired to do to encourage those around you in their family history journey?