Orson Scott Card has written a very insightful columm over at Mormon Times about the transition of Priests into the Elder’s Quorum at age 18.
In our ward the Aaronic Priesthood Quorums tend to be very tight knit. We are not very dense in members, the total population of people living in our stake boundaries is about 1.8 million. Typically we have less than a dozen LDS kids in a high school of 1800+ kids, so all their LDS friends are from their ward. For that reason it is tough to leave the Quorum
One way we manage the problem is keeping the boys in the Priests Quorum, and have them attend Youth activities until they are out of High School, even if they turn 18 in their senior year. Not sure what the Church policy is on that, but that is what we traditionally do. After that they typically will go away to college, so there is a forced transition.
I do notice that when they are home from School, they do seem to be in limbo. Card’s post is mainly about what the Elder’s Quorum can do to help, but there are some things that our YM leaders have stumbled upon that seem to help. I recently posted about having our 4 Priest Quorum Alumni that were home on Christmas break come into the quoum and talk about college life. That was a rite of passage that benefited both the alumni and the current Priests (this time it was out of necessity, because we didn’t have a lesson ready, but it turned out very well, and we will repeat it annually). We also have had good luck in getting the 18 year olds interested in our High Adventure trips. The preparations and social aspects of preparing for that can help keep them plugged in during the summer between High School and College.
During an accidental bout of honesty, one of my Young Men mentioned that he was not getting much out of attending Church. That has been on my mind, so when I saw a DVD at Deseret Book called The Best 3 Hours of the Week; Getting the Most Out of Your Church Meetings by John Bytheway I picked it up. It is excellent, and basically teaches that the responsibility for being edified at Church is on you, not the speaker, teacher or leaders. That is not to say we, as leaders, shouldn’t be doing a better job, but it ultimately puts the responsibility where it belongs.
Brother Bytheway made a number of points about importance of Young Men in our Sunday Worship:
“What is the most important thing we do on Sunday? Take the Sacrament. Who should we put in charge of that.. how about the teenage boys”
Geoff B. over at The Millenial Star has wrote about his struggle teaching the teenagers. He was the new guy in the ward, and got savaged while teaching teenagers in Sunday School. Anyone who has taught Young Men can relate to some degree.
I am lucky, I have been in my ward for over a decade, so I have been involved with these boys since they were Sunbeams. I have been in the Young Men’s program since 2003, so I have been fully focused on them for 5 years. They know me, and I know them, that helps an awful lot. I am not saying I can control them with a stern look, but we stumble through our lessons with reasonable behavior from both teacher and students.
Last year I viewed one of those Aaronic Priesthood/Scout training videos online (I can’t find it on LDS.org today, it was a round table type discussion held on an outdoor set) One of the main points was that longevity of leaders is a key to success in a YM program. I wholeheartedly agree, I think it is crucial.
All us Young men leaders have had to teach the lessons on the Law of Chastity.
Adam Greenwood over at Times and Seasons writes eloquently of the unique Mormon challenge, and humor of teaching it.
Matt W. over at New Cool Thang is asking for ideas for his upcoming Young Men’s lesson on Eternal Marriage. He for good answers to the question: “Why get married” The truth is, if you get them to their mission, the marriage thing will take care of itself, but that doesn’t help Matt W. with his lesson. Anyway there are plenty smarter folks smarter than me who are helping him, check out the good comments in reply to Matt’s call for ideas.
There is a great post over at keepapitchinin.com has a guide to passing the Sacrament written by a Bishop back in 1923. It is very similar to the was we do it now with one exception, there is no mention of passing the sacrament to the presiding authority first, as we do now. Also he does not outline how they handled mistakes during the recitation of the prayer.
One my recent trip to California I watched with interest how the Young Men in the ward I was visiting administered the Sacrament. I was looking for ways their style differed from how we do it in my home ward. It was very similar, except for one little bit of fanfare. As the ordinance ends the Aaronic Priesthood sits down, the organist plays a short flourish then the boys get up and go sit with their families (or head to the foyers, some things are the same in every ward). The organ was a little different than I am used to , but I kind of liked it.
In our ward, about once a month we gather all of the Aaronic Priesthood and talk about how the group is doing in passing the Sacrament, and talk through any scenarios that have popped up, and how we have handled them. It seems to help us pass in a reverent manner. Next time we meet I am going to read the vintage Sacrament guide to the boys, and maybe even ask some of the older men in the ward to talk about how they passed the sacrament as Deacons. Taking time out to talk about it reminds them of the importance of their role in the Sacrament Ordinance.
Thanks to mormonmemorabilia.com for the pics.
We are using a great online resource for managing our boys’ Duty To God advancements.
It is called E Trail to Eagle. The site has 2 main functions, a pay side tracks Scout Advancement towards Eagle for a reasonable 20 bucks a year for the whole troop.
The other portion tracks advancement to the Duty To God Award. That part of the site is free. I particularly like how the site keeps track of how long a boy has been in a Deacon, Teacher or Priest, and reports, in percentage, how far they are along in that 2 year segment of the award (which takes 6 years of steady effort to earn). It also emails reports to leaders each month, and allows parents to log-on to see their boy’s progress.