Youth are more prepared today than ever before to do family history. This is the first of four articles focused on resources, ideas, and activities that you can use to involve and support the rising generation in realizing this match made in heaven.
Have you heard of the Youth Temple Challenge? It’s an invitation that Elder Neil L. Anderson gave to youth throughout the Church, an invitation that Elder Dale Renlund recently renewed. Each youth in the Church is invited to prepare as many family names for the temple as baptisms they perform in the temple and to help someone else to do the same. Watch the invitation, and learn more about the Youth Temple Challenge. This is not the first time the youth have been asked to help in temple and family history work. In October 1930, a plan for junior genealogical classes was approved for use Churchwide. Joseph Fielding Smith prepared the lesson material, which consisted of 12 lessons. While we don’t have those lessons in circulation today, youth are still being asked to help out.
Young people throughout the world are now one of the highest temple-submitting groups in the Church. In the October 2011 general conference, Elder David A. Bednar spoke about the Spirit of Elijah. Specifically, he asked the youth to participate in finding their own family names. He told parents and leaders, “Do not overly program this endeavor or provide too much detailed information or training. Invite young people to explore, to experiment, and to learn for themselves.” He also gave specific apostolic promises to youth who participate in family history and temple work:
“As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives” (“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 26–27).
In recent months, Church members were asked to focus on a simple process for doing family history, called Find, Take, Teach. The descendancy feature in the FamilySearch Family Tree enables users to add record hints and extend their family connections. One group of young women worked on this activity during their class on Sunday. This kind of activity is exactly what the Brethren are inviting the young people to do, and it didn’t require a large time commitment. An inspired youth leader found some family names and felt the need to involve the young women, and everyone who participated was blessed.
Whether you work with youth in a Church calling or they are part of your own family, invite them to participate in the temple challenge. They will be blessed. Worldly temptations swirl around the rising generation every day, and temple and family history work can protect them. The temple is a safe and steadfast place where the youth can bring their families together and receive the blessings promised by living prophets.
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