Come Follow Me for Individuals and Families: A progress report

We still don’t know what to call our family meeting. “Home church” seems to be winning.

But the meeting is proving to be useful. For one thing, we’re actually meeting. Our Family Home Evening observance had gotten pretty slack, because Monday is busy, and everyone has different schedules, and after all who needs a lesson when you have an activity, and who needs an activity if you coordinate schedules over dinner? But home church is church, and we show up to our meetings, especially if they’re held in the living room.

We have the afternoon church schedule this year, so what’s working for us is to start home church 60 minutes before the meetings start. We have an opening prayer, make brief announcements, and then have a lesson, finishing by 30 minutes before meetings start. Ten minutes of final preparations let us head out the door to church 20 minutes before meetings start so that the organist can arrive in time to play prelude music. Everybody has to be ready for church before home church starts, though. I don’t know what we’ll do next year when we’re on the morning church schedule.

Since we’ve already had a meeting at home, when I get to Sunday School, I’ve read the lesson and the assigned chapters from the New Testament, which makes the whole experience better for everyone. Having the manual assign lessons by week instead of by chapter number is brilliant. No matter what conferences have occurred and no matter where we go, everyone knows what lesson we’re on.

With three kids ages 10-17 at home, we’ve adopted a schedule where everyone takes a turn teaching a lesson. (The 10-year-old is using Wayment’s New Testament translation for reading and teaching.) Our first set of lessons were…bad. Mine included. It turns out that having a couple of interesting points, or a set of questions to pester people with, or the whole lesson manual on your phone is not the same thing as having a lesson prepared. We resolved to do better. We’re now insisting that the teacher have a lesson plan written down on paper. The lesson can’t cover everything, so the teacher needs to pick and choose one or two main points, prepare some things to say, and have one or two questions to ask. Our second set of lessons has been pretty decent.

It turns out that home church is especially useful for those Sundays when church is canceled. Maybe you’re living in one of those places where church is never canceled because the weather is always beautiful, or where the ward building is within a half mile of every ward member. But if you’re living in a place where it takes three hours to drive from one end of your ward to the other, and the state department of transportation might close half the roads in the state and issue no-travel recommendations for the rest on any given Sunday between Halloween and Easter, home church is very useful. In less than three months, we’ve had four Sundays where we’ve held expanded services with an opening and closing song, both an invocation and benediction, and more expansive announcements, because nobody in town is leaving their homes or driving anywhere without risking their lives.

So home church is useful. I like it. Since we have the chance to make of it whatever we want, I hope you’re turning into something you like.

9 comments for “Come Follow Me for Individuals and Families: A progress report

  1. LOL – I had a post saying nearly the same thing I was in the midst of writing. Great minds think alike I guess. (grin)

    I was a pretty big skeptic of Come Follow Me both as a primary teacher but also for home. I confess we’ve struggled doing religious oriented lessons in FHE for various reasons. However I found CFM really is great for morning scripture study. Vastly superior to linear reading. This also helps me since by the time Sunday rolls around I’ve already taught the lesson. I think the repetition helps with the kids as well. My only remaining struggle is with my oldest who is a bit of a rebel against Church and who goes to school an hour earlier than the rest. It’s really hard to do scripture study with him. But for the rest I think CMF is a huge success.

  2. I’ve liked the home-lessons as well. We do it immediately after church and I re-teach my primary lesson for my teens. No one is allowed to leave or eat until we’ve done it, so I’m getting a reasonable amount of cooperation.

    I dislike the manual though and don’t use it much. If anything, I see this as an opportunity to teach my kids (and my primary class) how to pick apart and find resources for understanding the NT.

  3. we call it scripture study. family made dad write/lead the lessons. we are doing Raymond Brown’s AB Commentary on John. We do one pericope a week, reading from Brown, Wright, and Hart translations. From the family weeks we choose the topic for the neighborhood lesson, which is on the fourth Sunday. On neighborhood lesson we open our home and scripture study to ward members and neighbors et al in an attempt to limit the possible balkanizing effects of home church. Seems to work well. It is a lot more work than the old model, that’s for sure. But I feel like we are understanding the New Testament better. I’m excited to start working through Alter’s OT in coming years.

  4. We call it “Sunday Spiritual Time,” which is the name we’ve used for years, since “Family Home Evening” never worked for us as either a title or a schedule. We’re also using the Wayment translation (which is excellent), and we’ve fallen into a pattern of reading a chapter (or two or three) directly from the text, following in the schedule laid out in the Come Follow Me manual (excuse me, “resource”). We don’t use any of the prepared questions, as they’re pretty much hopeless, but the schedule is working well for us; we have 10:30am church, so we go into SST immediately after we return, and reading and talking about scripture at that time is working much better than our old scripture reading practices did. Next year we’ll go to 9am church, and I assume we’ll be able to maintain the current pattern. Overall, I give it a thumbs up.

  5. Even with four comments, it’s interesting to see the diverse forms (and names!) the home/family meeting is taking. I’m curious if we’ll ever arrive at a de facto standard name. Sam, I’m very glad to hear about how you’re opening your home. That was one of the uses of this meeting that I thought might potentially have the most impact.

  6. I have four primary kids and we call it “Come Follow Me Lesson”. We’re probably going short on time, but we are doing it. The goal is to do it right after church, but that depends on my wife’s health.
    I was pleasantly surprised when on the car ride home from church the kids started asking “When are we doing our Come Follow Me Lesson?” Not because they’re looking forward to it, but because they know that we’re going to do it.
    We got each of our kids a New Testament to mark up each week. My wife marks up the youngest’s.
    I hope we can keep up the momentum.

  7. We call it Family Home Evening and usually have it after Sunday dinner. I’ve been pleased with how it’s been going. We have one child who I knew would be extremely resistant. And, she started out that way, but over time she’s moved from hiding out in her room to laying on the living room couch to (mostly) joining us at the dining table. We chose not to force her to participate but to focus on consistently gathering, and little by little she’s coming around. We’ve had some rough weeks but also some really good ones where my teenage son asks deep questions and there are moments of the spirit being present. The best reward for me was the day a few weeks ago when we were discussing the Beatitudes. As we read each quality, I asked the kids to name a person who they felt represented that particular Beatitude. On a few of them, my 8-year-old said, “you, mom!” At the end, my 16-year-old son was very quiet. Then he said, “I know someone who represents all those. It’s you.” You don’t get moments like that every day.

  8. With our young children our lessons aren’t as robust as you’ve described. This week for example we sang ‘Here we go ’round the mulberry bush’ with activities that can help us to be the good soil in the Parable of the Sower. For example we sang ‘This is the way we say our prayers, say our prayers, say our prayers…’ as we marched around a stool in our front room. Then we read a few verses from the Bible. It’s not as structured, in depth, or robust as we would get at church, but I like having the time to do it together as a family. I like having church commitments that are less imposing. Overall I think it’s a good change for our family.

  9. The Friend at the start of the year came out with a Come Follow Me reading schedule with shortened selected scripture passages for each week and a chart to color. The adults in our house are responsible for their own study or lack thereof, and with our kids (5, 5, and 2), the short passage from the reading schedule is as good as we can do, and by that I mean I’m really happy we can read 3-5 verses using Wayment and talk about them for 3-5 minutes. We’ve had a few good weeks, a few nonexistent weeks, and now we’re getting back into it. With church from 9 to 11, the only way we can get it done is during lunch immediately after. As my kids get older, learn to read, and can do more, I hope we’ll have the habit in place and can do more robust lessons. Right now, it’s enough to be establishing the habit.

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