Yikes! You just remembered you’re supposed to give a talk on Sunday. You quickly go to ChurchofJesusChrist.org or open the Gospel Library app, but where do you go first to research a topic?
Rather than doing a general search of a word or phrase, you can find a richer, more carefully curated source of resources by going directly to Gospel Topics online or in the Gospel Library app under Topics > Gospel Topics.
This resource helps you know “what the Church teaches about specific gospel principles, Church history events, and social or moral issues facing members today” (see Gospel Topics Introduction). Each Gospel Topic includes a brief overview explaining what Latter-day Saints believe about the topic, as well as links to resources, including conference talks, videos and manuals, that will help you learn more about the topic in both your personal and family studies, or as you prepare to teach or participate in Sunday lessons.
More than 250 topics appear in alphabetical order, several of which have been recently updated (see Media, Restoration of the Priesthood, Single Adult Members of the Church, and Spaulding Manuscript).
New and Updated Topics
“We are actively updating existing topics and will add new topics each month,” said Katrina Cannon, Gospel Topics editor. An update may be as simple as fine-tuning or updating the list of related conference talks or rearranging the order of resources. A topic may also need updating to align with new policies, she said. “We try to keep them all up-to-date, but some still need attention.”
Church Councils, Family Councils, Ministering and Plan of Salvation are newly added topics. Many additional topics are in various stages of researching, writing and reviewing. “All updates to existing topics and all new topics are approved by General Authorities,” Cannon said.
A separate category of Gospel Topics are Gospel Topics Essays, which the Church began publishing in 2013 to help dispel inaccuracies about the Church. These 11 additional in-depth essays, which have been approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, cover topics such as Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women; Plural Marriage; and Race and the Priesthood. Additional essays will be added in the future.
Robert Smith, a product manager in the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department, explained that over the years, Gospel Topics content has evolved to better address topics and to make it easier for members to find not only a good overview on various topics but linked resources that make personalized study possible. “The purpose and value of Gospel Topics is really more for personal study, not just to know what the Church’s stance is,” Smith said.
For example, similar to “Come, Follow Me,” each Gospel Topic has sections for personal study along with content appropriate for home evening lessons. Many topics include family activities and learning resources. Topics also include related scripture references, leader messages, videos, Tabernacle Choir videos of hymns, magazine articles, lessons and “Come, Follow Me” links.
Study by Seeking the Holy Ghost
“In our efforts to study and discover truth, it’s important to consider the role of the Holy Ghost. As you read a Gospel Topic, prayerfully seek the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to assist you in your desire for increased understanding and testimony,”” Smith said. (See Elder David A. Bednar’s April 2011 general conference address, “The Spirit of Revelation.”)
President Russell M. Nelson recently taught, “What will your seeking open for you? What wisdom do you lack? What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand? Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort. I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that ‘if thou shalt (seek), thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things — that which bringeth life eternal’” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61) (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” April 2018 general conference).