Monday, February 9, 2015

Introducing an LDS Youth Family History plan

So you're on board with teaching the youth about family history. You need a plan.

I know you're excited, but just breathe. This is meant to be a slow plan. It should take 8 months to year to complete. There are many good things that the youth should be involved in. Family history shouldn't take up all of their mutual activities, Sunday lessons, and Bishop's Youth Discussions. One (or maybe two) family history experiences a month should be plenty. There are 12 steps, so if you just do one a month you'll finish in a year.

I agree that the youth's involvement in family history should be youth-driven. This plan focuses on the things that leaders can do to invite them to act. They don't know where to start either, even if they already want to do family history work. This plan is meant to help them learn the skills they need to do family history work on their own.

Use it if you want, change it to fit your needs, let me know how it goes (please!!). 

I'll be posting more detailed instructions for each step in the vague future (when I get around to it). Please contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.

Before you begin

1. Get the youth leaders doing their own family history.

The youth will learn best from their leaders because their leaders love them. Youth leaders should start doing their own family history to set an example and to be able to help the youth every step of the way.

2. Help parents to get the youth set up with a username, password, and tree on FamilySearch.

If the youth show up to do family history without setting up their tree at home they won't be able to participate. The parents need to be involved at this step in order to provide enough information for the youth to connect to a deceased ancestor on their tree, but it's also important for the youth to see that their parents are willing to help them with family history at home. Youth leaders can support parents by visiting their homes and guiding them through the process if needed. Youth should bring their log in information written down to every family history activity.

Youth Family History Plan

1. Blessings of family history work Sunday lesson

Youth and their parents should know the blessings of family history work before they begin. This Church-produced lesson plan would probably be most effective as a combined Relief Society, Priesthood, and youth class, but you could fit it to your ward's needs. The videos are great!

2. Explore your Family Tree Mutual night

Youth will learn to use the FamilySearch website naturally by exploring their tree. Let them try to get back to Adam. Help them find out if they are related to famous people. Get them talking to each other about it and having fun. Basically, let them do whatever they want (as long as it's related to family history). They could go home with a fan chart so that they can start talking to their family about their family history.

3. Parents and Youth Saturday activity

Invite the youth and their parents (or another relative) to work on their family history together at the Church on a Saturday morning (or for mutual if you think the parents would come). Help them sign up for FamilySearch partner access accounts so that they can start researching together at home. This is a great opportunity for a consultant or youth leader to help youth identify a line they would like to research. Hopefully families will continue the conversation at home.

4. Small group research Sunday lessons (3 lessons)

The Sunday lessons are meant to teach the youth basic research skills, like which search results are about your ancestors? Youth can learn research skills by
 trying to find records about ancestors that are already on their family tree. They are not trying to find names for the temple.

5. Share your family story Bishop's Youth Discussion (aka fireside) or Mutual

Invite some or all of the youth to learn a story about one of their ancestors. It doesn't have to be sensational, just a regular story. Ask them to bring a picture of their ancestor if they can. Have the youth share their ancestor's stories with their peers. Invite all of the youth to go home and record family stories on FamilySearch.

6. Learn how to index Mutual night

Indexing is a valuable service that youth can provide. It will also help them learn to read family history records.

7. Grow your tree Mutual night

The purpose of this mutual night is to help all of the youth prepare a name from their family to take to the temple if they want to. Some youth may have been able to prepare names for the temple with their family or during their Sunday lessons and can continue their work. Other youth will require one on one help in order to achieve this goal. Make sure this mutual night is held at least one month before the temple trip so that youth leaders and consultants have some extra time to visit and help youth who were not able to prepare a name at the activity. Some youth may have special circumstances that makes it impossible for them to prepare a name for the temple, but the large majority should be able to find someone new to add to their tree.

8. Bring your own names Youth or Ward Temple Trip

Invite youth and their parents to attend the temple to perform baptisms for their deceased ancestors.

9. Share your family history experience Bishop's Youth Discussion (aka fireside)

Invite some of the youth to share their experience at the temple and bear their testimony about family history and temple work.

10. Teach what you know Mutual night or Ward Party

Invite interested ward or community members including investigators to learn about family history from the youth. Youth can help with FamilySearch, research, and recording memories. The youth will gain confidence and solidify their skills as they teach.

After you've finished

1. Continue to plan mutual activities and Sunday lessons that focus on family history

Once every two or three months hold a grow your tree mutual activity or teach another small group research Sunday lesson. Youth could also participate in service projects with a family history focus like indexing or taking pictures of local gravestones.

2. Continue to provide youth opportunities to teach about family history

As new youth enter the program, older youth should teach them about family history. Some (or all) youth could be called as ward family history consultants.

3. Continue to encourage youth to bring family names to the temple

Elder Andersen has challenged the youth to prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms they perform in the temple.

Four Sunday lessons, four mutual activities, two Bishop's Youth Discussions, one Saturday activity, and one temple trip. Any ward can do this. Are you ready?

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