Your Family History Calling: It’s as Simple as “1, 2, 3. Find, Take, and Teach!”

October 22, 2014  - by 

I fondly remember when I was a young boy my mother saying, “It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3!”

Reflecting back, I believe that by saying that, she was trying to keep my young life both simple and doable. I am certain, as she did this, she would no doubt leave out steps to keep my chores and tasks within her formula. Yet, it was good, sound counsel. In a very complex life, it is easy to feel that things are indeed overly complicated.

You may feel the same way about your family history calling—that it too is complicated. There are a lot of messages, many from the Family History Department, that may cause you to ask, “Just what do you want me to do? Can’t you just make it simple!?!”

To find a simple answer in a complicated world, it might be good to remember a statement by the late Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, who said, “Everything in life is interesting, but only a few things are important.”

The most important part of your calling as a family history consultant is to help Church members enable the salvation of their ancestors, primarily by providing for them the saving ordinances of the temple. Yes, there are lots of other interesting elements of family history work, but the important part is helping members find their ancestors, linking them into FamilySearch Family Tree (which qualifies them for temple ordinances), and then taking or sharing the names of those ancestors for temple blessings.

As I’m out and about giving firesides and talking to Church members, I am often asked by new family history consultants, “Just what is my job?” This is very natural for new and even veteran consultants. I often respond by saying it is as simple as “1, 2, 3!” So what is the 1, 2, 3?

In my mind, the three steps are these:

  1. Using the FamilySearch website or the booklet My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together, find one or more of your own ancestors or their descendants, and submit their names for temple blessings.
  2. Next, take those names to the temple, or share the name with others so they can take the names to the temple.
  3. Then, teach someone else to do the same thing.

Now, I realize that there are other activities, including indexing, teaching doctrines, collecting and sharing family photos and stories, and more. But all of these are a means to an end, even important means. The end, however, is turning our hearts and blessing our ancestral family forever! This blessing happens in the temple.

Thanks for all you do, thanks for adjusting to all the changes, thanks for learning new things, and thanks for making your calling as simple as 1, 2, 3! Find, take, and teach.


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  1. I have done this twice now and found several names that need to have the work done for them. Now I just need to visit the Temple to be doing the work.

  2. Thanks, Br. Brimhall,
    I discovered this myself, by accident. The first name needed about 4 hours, but the second took only about 20 minutes.

  3. Several FH Consultants have responded to Dennis Brimhall’s 1,2,3 with concern that he did not place enough emphasis on checking and documenting. Those tasks are indeed extremely important when preparing names – but Dennis was in no way minimizing them.

    His 1,2,3 was not actually proposed for those doing research but for FH Consultants themselves, in their consultant work! He did not suggest teaching the 1,2,3 to members at all. 1,2,3 should never be mentioned to them.

    He said he wanted to help consultants – especially new consultants – to see the essentials of their job. He said that first the consultant should identify “one or more” of his or her own relatives and get that name to the Temple – and then “teach someone else to do the same thing.”

    There have been plenty of called consultants who have not done that. I feel that his 1,2,3 is an excellent way to get consultants started. It is also a valuable plan for priesthood leaders to employ in helping consultants get into their calling. Thank you, Dennis.

  4. After reading this post, a scripture came to mind: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed.” (D&C 11:21.)

    It’s the same with our callings as consultants. Before we find and take, we need to know how to do so successfully. And we definitely need to know before we teach others!

    Doing family history is not inordinately difficult. In fact, I like to compare it to learning to drive. Most people can learn to drive successfully with a small investment of time and effort. But we don’t turn people out on the road without making sure they know the rules of the road and how to operate a car.

    I agree wholeheartedly that we don’t want to overcomplicate things, but neither do we want to oversimplify. In our stake, we’ve found that oversimplification leads to “flash-in-the-pan” efforts rather than long-term engagement. Unfortunately, it’s also likely to lead to false expectations, which in turn lead to frustration and disappointment (as many of us have seen in our callings) rather than turning hearts.

    On the other hand, when we’re realistic and encouraging, we’re much more likely to help our ward and stake members find success and have heart-turning experiences. Three “simple” steps are wonderful if we can also be clear about the essentials that are actually involved in those steps.

  5. I would like to thank Bro. Brimhall for the counsel to us as Family History Consultants. It can be a confusing calling yet I have been strengthened in my efforts as a FHC by doing just as he has said; I have found some ancestors; I have taken them to the temple; I am trying to teach and testify to others about my process and what it has meant to me.
    I have very heavy LDS lines. It is difficult to find names for the temple but as I began with prayer and found a line to extend forward with descendancy research I was successful in finding about 20 people. The process of research and documentation, problem solving and praying for answers all brought me to love and care about these families. One by one I was able to connect them. My daughter helped me and we became closer as we, together, cared about these families. In the end we obtained an obituary for a woman that had raised her own two children and the three daughters of her brother-in-law, her nieces. This obituary was filled with love and praise of a selfless woman, someone that I am now anxious to meet someday.
    We have wonderful tools help our ward members “Find” people (not names). The finding will not be easy, sometimes even difficult. As I understand my calling the teaching to find takes most of the time I spend with them. They must be willing to learn and practice too. But when we ourselves follow what Bro. Brimhall has suggested and find people in our own lines then when we testify to our ward members they will be buoyed up in their efforts to learn how to use the tools provide and have success in their desires to find people who need their saving ordinances. The 1,2,3 is for us as Consultants so we can teach and testify of this divine work.

  6. Elder Brimhall,

    In my opinion, this is the most exciting development yet in family history research. You and Elder Foster and the magnificent staff of the Family History Department have hit a grand slam this time!

    Thank you so much!!

    Sincerely, your brother,

    George M. Keele

  7. I am curious if consultants are still using any offline programs since PAF was discontinued? Or, are you just using Family Search and sticking to online compiling?
    I switched to Rootsmagic and have found it wonderful for compiling and processing information.

    1. I also use RootsMagic. It’s much easier to my mind than FamilySearch, although I spend time there too. Syncing from RootsMagic into FamilySearch usually takes care of what I need to do to set up ordinance reservations. Often use the link in RootsMagic from the Share data tab at the FamilySearch Person Tools page, especially to check quickly who has reserved ordinances, when, and whether I can e-mail the person for permission to finish off long-awaited ordinance work. Often it’s quicker to sync to FamilySearch’s Family Tree to change a detail on the Person’s detail page. However, there are so many great features in RootsMagic (let alone that it doesn’t nearly fundamentally change whenever several new fixes come into play. I also love the immediate statement at the lower left corner of RootsMagic as to what relationship a person in the database is to me or to someone else who wants to know. It’s easy and quick to find the common ancestors too. As yet we can’t do that in Family Tree–not that I’m aware of, anyway. I believe I’ll always want my own database separate from FamilySearch for a great many reasons, none the least of which is that I can print off terrific reports for nonmembers as well as members. I use them as gifts for special occasions for family members.

    2. I strongly advocate for using a separate genealogy program…
      I love collaborating with others on FamilySearch, however, I need my private research and notes that only I can change. Is it more work? Yes. I cannot work any other way.

    3. I use Legacy. And find it smartest to use BOTH a off-line program and FSFT. Using FSFT, off-line program and internet based sources make a perfect way of storing, hinting and confirming information. AND most of all sharing info for others to benefit from.

    4. I have been a FHC in my ward for almost 10 years and have always recommended
      the use of an off-line program. It is my contention that by doing this, your personal
      program stays free on contamination of inaccurate or false information. No one can change the information in your personal program but you, while they can and do install duplicate, inaccurate, and yes, false information into FS/FT, even tho it was not intentional. Mistakes do happen.

      1. I agree with keeping a separate genealogy program. I use Family Tree Maker for Mac and this is my “workbench”. When I have docs/proof, then I contribute this data to FamilySearch. It’s more work, but absolutely necessary. When I contribute to FS, I know the data is golden.

  8. When I was 25 years old my Dad flow from home to attend his teachers refresher course and as we meet at the airport that true feeling of connections grew stronger as ever before in our lives and that I don’t want to let go of him. He gave me a present, a thick black book, with his wording, quote, “Son, I had done my part, you got to finished it”. I hold the book in my hands and ask him, Dad, what am I going to do with the book?. He said, son you’ll find out a way. I kept the book for 27 years. In 2007 I became as member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After three day, I found out that the church do family history search and my mind saw the whole picture of me and Dad as we meet at the airport and as he hand over to me the thick black book. Friends, this book is the family histories of the people of Atiu in the Cook Islands. True blessings that God always had a way to connect back to Him. In Jesus Christ name, Amen.

      1. Carol, Thank so much for reading my article. Yes, it’s a powerful and inspiration wording in it and also my testimony to believe that it is true.

  9. El 1, 2 y 3 Son pasos muy pero muy interesantes ya que con ello sentimos el “Espíritu de Elias” ya que si se practica constantemente vamos a experimentar las cosas maravillosas que Dios nos da para tener GOZO aquí en la tierra

    1. Translation of above Comment: The 1, 2 and 3 are very, very interesting step as this we feel the “Spirit of Elijah” because if practiced consistently will experience the wonderful things that God gives us to be here on earth JOY

  10. In our ward, we have had 3 6 week classes in 3 years. It is hard for people to make it to all the classes due to visiting other wards for blessings, holidays or work issues. Then we were having great luck reaching our members who need help by opening the family history room during Sunday School. After a couple weeks we had all 4 of our computers full with people researching and asking questions how to do certain things or ask how to solve their problems. Sometimes there are less. I have a hard time getting out in the evenings, so I thought this was a great solution. Our stake president has asked us not to open the room, except for classes. Next week will be our first time closing it. I was hoping for a compromise. Do you think it would be OK, if we do one day classes? Like maneuvering; adding a tree to; researching people using the censuses; checking death; birth and marriage sites; etc. Does this sound like a good idea. If not could you help me find a solution to help my ward family. I do not want to go against my stake president, but I want to help my ward. HELP!..

  11. The “Find – Take – Teach” invitation is so simple and yet so powerful. In my FH Calling I am now using it in all my efforts to encourage others