Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Appropriate Use of Technology for Gospel Growth

This is not a Primary-specific post but I felt it was appropriate to share here. We very much use technology to aid in teaching in Primary, from using sources like to research and prepare lessons including accessing visuals that can be printed, to sharing videos that help illustrate an aspect of a song or lesson concept. And then, of course, there's this thing called blogs ... 

There are some great articles on about recognizing that technology is here to stay, and learning how to embrace it and use technology in a positive way when teaching. I've shared some excerpts below, along with the links to the full articles. (This post can also be accessed through the shortened link: 

July 6, 2016

A. “Today we have considered both the possibilities and the perils of digital devices and other technologies in the work of proclaiming the gospel,” said Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “‘For such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14) we have been called and set apart to use the potent power of these inspired tools to take full advantage of the untold possibilities and to overcome the limitless perils.”
B. Elder Bednar emphasized to the new mission presidents: “Please do not fear technology. Please do not take counsel from your fears. Embrace these inspired tools. Learn to use them to proclaim the gospel. Help your missionaries develop safe and appropriate lifelong technology habits that will enable them to chase darkness away.”

C. “Technology provides a multitude of powerful channels ... The rising generation is especially well prepared to hear and learn about the restored gospel through these means of communication.”

D. “Digital and mobile devices surely will change in terms of usage, size, and power—but they are not going away. … Almost all missionaries have access to technology on a regular basis in their service. We have a responsibility to help them learn to use these digital tools appropriately now and for the rest of their lives.”

E. “We have a duty to help this rising generation learn that the only filter that successfully can overcome and avoid evil resides in the heart and mind of a faithful disciple of Christ. Only the companionship of the Holy Ghost can fortify sufficiently against ‘the fiery darts of the wicked’ (Ephesians 6:16).”
F. ... “Some abuses always will occur, but we should not allow a fear of mistakes to hold us back from receiving the great blessings these tools can provide.”
Together, he added, “we will continue to learn about the effective uses of technology in proselyting. We will be blessed and prospered as we implement this important development in the work of proclaiming the gospel.”

2. Teaching in the Savior's Way > Teach the Youth
G. If the youth you teach have their own electronic devices,remember that these devices don’t have to be a distraction they can actually be tools to enhance learning. Encourage the youth to look up scriptures and other Church resources on these devices in order to answer questions. You can also send messages and links to the youth during the week to help them prepare for upcoming lessons.

3. The Choice Generation by Randall L. Ridd, Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, April 2014 (This talk was directed at Young Men.)

H. never before in history have individuals been blessed with so many choices. More choices mean more opportunities; more opportunities mean more potential to do good and, unfortunately, evil. I believe that God sent you here at this time because He trusts you to successfully discern among the mind-boggling choices available.

I. … You are growing up with one of the greatest tools for goodin the history of man: the Internet. With it you can accomplish great things in a short period of time, or you can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential. With the click of a button, you can access whatever your heart desires. That’s the key—what does your heart desire? What do you gravitate toward? Where will your desires lead?

Remember that God “granteth unto men according to their desire” (Alma 29:4) and that He “will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:9; see also Alma 41:3).
J. … The Internet also records your desires, expressed in the form of searches and clicks. There are legions waiting to fill those desires. As you surf the Internet, you leave tracks—what you communicate, where youh ave been, how long you have been there, and the kinds of things that interest you. In this way, the Internet creates a cyber profile for you—in asense, your “cyber book of life.” As in life, the Internet will give you more and more of what you seek. If your desires are pure, the Internet can magnify them, making it ever easier to engage in worthy pursuits. But the opposite is also true.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it this way: “What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity. … “… Only by educating and training our desires can they become our allies instead of our enemies!” (“According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,”Ensign, Nov. 1996, 21, 22).
K. My young brothers, if you are not proactive in educating your desires, the world will do it for you. Every day the world seeks to influence your desires, enticing you to buy something, click on something, play something, read or watch something. Ultimately, the choice is yours. You have agency. It is the power to not only act on your desires but also to refine, purify, and elevate your desires. Agency is your power to become. Each choice takes you closer to or further from what you are meant to become; each click has meaning. Always ask yourself, “Where will this choice lead?” Develop the ability to see beyond the moment.


L. Right in the palm of your hand you have the wisdom of the ages—more importantly, the words of the prophets, from Old Testament days to President Thomas S. Monson. But if you don’t regularly recharge your cell phone, it is useless, and you feel lost and out of touch. You wouldn’t think of going a single day without charging your battery.
M. As important as it is to leave home every day with a full charge on your cell phone, it is far more important to be fully charged spiritually. Every time you plug in your phone, use it as a reminder to ask yourself if you have plugged in to the most important source of spiritual power—prayer and scripture study, which will charge you with inspiration through the Holy Ghost (seeD&C 11:12–14). It will help you know the mind and will of the Lord to make the small but important daily choices that determine your direction. Many of us immediately stop whatever we are doing to read a text message—should we not place even more importance on messages from the Lord? Neglecting to connect to this power should be unthinkable to us (see2 Nephi 32:3).
N. Every time you plug in your phone, use it as a reminder to ask yourself if you have plugged in to the most important source of spiritual power—prayer and scripture study, which will charge you with inspiration through the Holy Ghost (see D&C 11:12–14).

O. The divine purpose of technology is to hasten the work of salvation. As members of the choice generation, you understand technology. Use it to accelerate your progress toward perfection. Because you have been given much, you too must give (see “Because I Have Been Given Much,”Hymns, no. 219). The Lord expects you to use these great tools to take His work to the next level, to share the gospel in ways that are beyond my generation’s wildest imagination. Where generations past influenced their neighbors and their town, you have the power through the Internet and social media to reach beyond borders and influence the whole world.

4. Helping Youth to Teach, by Brian K. Ashton, Second Counselor, Sunday School General Presidency, August 2016

P. “Jesus Christ was the perfect teacher. Teaching helps youth follow the Savior’s example and become more like Him. Teaching also prepares them to become missionaries, parents, and leaders in the Church. When youth teach, they have to study the gospel and live it. They also have to have the Spirit in order to teach (see D&C 42:14). As a result, youth teachers usually learn more and gain a stronger testimony of the topic than those they teach.”

Q. “I recently was asked to substitute teach my ward’s 12- and 13-year-old Sunday School class. I asked my 13-year-old son, Jacob, to help me teach. We made a lesson plan together. Jacob took the first half of the lesson, showed a short video, shared scriptures related to our topic, and asked thoughtful questions. Jacob also asked the class members what they were feeling and helped them recognize the Holy Ghost.”

5. Four Things Youth Want from Their Gospel Lessons, by Brian K. Ashton, Second Counselor, Sunday School Presidency, March 2016

This is #4 on Brother Ashton's list of four things youth shared wanting from their gospel lessons: Help learning how to use technology appropriately. (The first three are: thoughtful doctrinal discussions based in the scriptures, more personal experiences and testimonies from their leaders, additional opportunities to participate in classes, including the opportunity to teach all or part of a class,.)
R. "Teachers can help the youth learn how to use technology appropriately and encourage more participation by having the youth use their mobile devices in lessons. For example, teachers can put the youth in small groups and have them research gospel topics in class, study general conference talks, or watch Church-produced videos related to the lesson.
S. I recently saw a teacher put the students in her class in pairs, have them look up and read a talk from general conference, discuss key principles found in the talk, and then briefly present what they learned to the class. It was very effective. At a minimum, youth can follow the Come, Follow Me lesson outline on their mobile devices and read the listed scriptures and quotes."

6. The Parable of the Sower, by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2015

Spiritual food is necessary for spiritual survival, especially in a world that is moving away from belief in God and the absolutes of right and wrong. In an age dominated by the Internet, which magnifies messages that menace faith, we must increase our exposure to spiritual truth in order to strengthen our faith and stay rooted in the gospel.

Young people, if that teaching seems too general, here is a specific example. If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or playing video games or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself toward stony ground. You are making yourself vulnerable to withering away when you encounter tribulation like isolation, intimidation, or ridicule. And that applies to adults also.

U. We are overcome by the “cares … of this life” when we are paralyzed by fear of the future, which hinders our going forward in faith, trusting in God and His promises. Twenty-five years ago my esteemed BYU teacher Hugh W. Nibley spoke of the dangers of surrendering to the cares of the world. He was asked in an interview whether world conditions and our duty to spread the gospel made it desirable to seek some way to “be accommodating of the world in what we do in the Church.”4

His reply: “That’s been the whole story of the Church, hasn’t it? You have to be willing to offend here, you have to be willing to take the risk. That’s where the faith comes in. … Our commitment is supposed to be a test, it’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to be impractical in the terms of this world.”5
V. The parable of the sower ends with the Savior’s description of the seed that “fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit” in various measures (Matthew 13:8). How can we prepare ourselves to be that good ground and to have that good harvest?

Jesus explained that “the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). We have the seed of the gospel word. It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful. We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Colossians 2:6–7). 

7. Mosiah 2

In Mosiah, King Benjamin speaks to his people. Specifically, in Mosiah 2:7-8, 30, 41, it talks about how the people cannot hear King Benjamin so he has a tower built. Still, the throng is so great that they still cannot hear him, so he has his words written down and sent forth among the people. King Benjamin also specifically shares that despite his old age the Lord has blessed him to be "able to speak now even though his doth tremble exceedingly." I share this story for two reasons:
a) Today, we can get on and read the words of past leaders - many who were at that stage in life before they passed away, most recently, we lost in 2015 Elder L. Tom Perry, Elder Boyd K. Packer, and Elder Richard G. Scott. It's interesting to see how King Benjamin's words were distributed then, and how inspired messages from leaders are distributed now, through technology. It is through and other sources that so many things that "are of good report or praiseworthy" are available to us beyond the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

b) You can go to LDS scriptures and type in a specific reference including chapters and specific verses, then save the link. Then, when you are using technology to share the links, those specific verses are highlighted for you, like I did with specific verses in chapter 2 of Mosiah.

8. Technology Specialist One of the callings you might not be aware of in the church is Technology Specialist. The online guide Getting Started for Technologists shares some cool ways that the church is using technology to bless the lives of others. This two-minute video is quite enlightening! One example - high council and stake coordination meetings using personal conferencing so that members could spent more time with their families and less time driving to late evening meetings. In Ghana, a technology specialist taught stake members how to put the scriptures on their cell phones, in a place where the phones are not true smart phones, and have limited functionality.

8. Using Media for Sharing the Gospel

Ideas for using media to learn, share, and create.

9. Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, July 2008

W. This is the world of the future, with inventions undreamed of that will come in your lifetime as they have in mine. How will you use these marvelous inventions? More to the point, how will you use them to further the work of the Lord?

... From its beginnings, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has used the power of the printed word to spread the message of the restored gospel throughout the world. The Lord, over the centuries, has had a hand in inspiring people to invent tools that facilitate the spreading of the gospel. The Church has adopted and embraced those tools, including print, broadcast media, and the Internet.

X. ... Now some of these tools—like any tool in an unpracticed or undisciplined hand—can be dangerous. The Internet can be used to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and can just as easily be used to market the filth and sleaze of pornography. Computer applications like iTunes can be used to download uplifting and stirring music or the worst kind of antisocial lyrics full of profanity. Social networks on the Web can be used to expand healthy friendships as easily as they can be used by predators trying to trap the unwary. That is no different from how people choose to use television or movies or even a library. Satan is always quick to exploit the negative power of new inventions, to spoil and degrade, and to neutralize any effect for good. Make sure that the choices you make in the use of new media are choices that expand your mind, increase your opportunities, and feed your soul.

This post is generally a compilation of inspiring messages about why and how to use technology to learn and teach the gospel of Christ. This section shares some fun examples of the kind of things to 
share with students:

1. Children's Bible Videos - a fun take where children are interviewed on their concept of gospel doctrine. See for example, "Who is Jesus?"

2. Mormon Messages - A compilation of short video messages, often inspired by or excerpted from General Conference talks. Like this one called "Thanksgiving Daily," or this one, "Create," that I absolutely love on a very personal level.

3. Tips for using Sometimes Google is a helpful supplement to searching on For example, Google "primary lesson helps" to easily pull up a list of topics in alphabetical order, of stories and messages that can be used to help supplement a lesson. For youth, "lds young women helps" has the same effect. 

4. Gospel Topics

5. You can follow general authorities on Facebook!

8/17/16 Addition:
I felt this post on 8/15/16 on Facebook, and one of the corresponding comments, was an eloquent reminder of the way technology can bless our lives:

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