Beginning in January 2020, Children and Youth will replace all current children and youth programs for the Church. President Russell M. Nelson described a new approach to gospel learning and growth that has been designed especially for today’s children and youth. Instead of specific assignments, they will be asked to counsel with the Lord about how they can grow in a balanced way.
“It will be rewarding and fun, but it will also take some effort on your part,” President Nelson said in the video. “You will need to seek personal revelation,” he continued. “You will need to choose for yourself how to act on it. Sometimes the Spirit may prompt you to do things that are difficult. I think you are up to the challenge. You can do hard things.”
The video which outlines the vision, principles, and initial details for the Children and Youth program, was shared with wards and branches during the second hour of Church meetings on Sunday, September 29.
In addition to President Nelson, the video presentation also features President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President; Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women General President; Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President; and Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President
What Will the Program Look Like?
As part of the new program, Fernanda, a 10-year-old girl from Curitiba, Brazil, shared how she set a goal to learn to cook with the help of her father.
“I’m bursting with joy because I can do something that I like,” Fernanda said in the video. “Every time I set these goals, I will always be growing as a person, and I’m also developing a talent that can help me with other things. The Lord wants me to develop. He cares about this talent I am doing because He knows I am doing something that makes me happy.”
The vision statement for the new program is to “strengthen the rising generation’s faith in Jesus Christ, and help children, youth, and their families progress along the covenant path as they meet life’s challenges,” President Ballard said.
Following the pattern of changes made in recent years, the new Children and Youth program will be more home-centered and Church-supported and will include a heavy focus on using personal revelation to determine individual and group needs and goals within the program.
Brother Owen explained that the program is centered around helping children and youth to grow in four major areas—spiritually, physically, socially, and intellectually—just as the Savior did (Luke 2:52). Within each of these areas, children and youth are encouraged to make personal goals for themselves that will help them to become more like the Savior and draw closer to Him.
As President Ballard described, each of the four areas of growth can be nurtured at home and at Church through three key components—gospel learning, service and activities, and personal development. Together, these three components make up the core structure of the program, which can be implemented both at home and at Church. The types of activities and how often they occur will be determined with more flexibility by both the youth and their leaders at the local level.
“Helping children and youth to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ will bless them and all of us all of our lives,” President Ballard said.
How and Why Is This Program Different?
Sister Cordon said the significant difference between the new program and past programs is that the new program offers more opportunities to be individualized through personal revelation and choices for how to progress on the covenant path. It goes hand in hand with Come, Follow Me and can be used with that curriculum both at home and at Church, added Sister Jones.
Additionally, as earlier announcements about the youth changes have highlighted, youth conferences and treks will continue to be part of the program and will alternate years with For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences as they are implemented in the U.S. and Canada.
For Primary children ages 8 and older, Sister Jones said regular activities for both boys and girls will be a part of the new program as well.
Although parents and leaders have always played an important role in guiding the Church’s youth programs, both President Nelson and President Ballard emphasized the necessity of allowing youth in their quorums and classes to take on more responsibility for planning and implementing the activities and personal goals within the new program.
As youth step up as leaders, parents, and Church leaders can expect to play more of a guiding role than a directing role explained Sister Bingham. “This is such an inspired program. I know that as families and individuals take this into their family life … it is going to help each one of us progress,” Sister Bingham added.
As part of the September 29 presentation, children and youth received an introductory guide to be filled out during the video presentation. Parents and leaders received a separate guide following the meeting for families to review together.
Over the coming months, more information will continue to be released on the ChildrenandYouth.ChurchofJesusChrist.org website as well as through the Face to Face event with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday, November 17.
See below to view the 48-minute introductory video, which was shared with wards and branches during the second hour of Church meetings on Sunday, September 29.