OK everybody, welcome to the Gospel Study Sesh. Let me give you some context around why I’m here, and you are welcome to share your reasons in the comments, as well. But this is mainly about me, so yeah. Deal.
I, like many of you, have experienced some incredible periods of gospel study – deep dives into the gospel that leave one thirsting for more. I remember a time on my mission when I’d beg my companion to let us stay inside as much as we could on preparation day so I could just have a few extra minutes to work on my “How mankind stems from Noah” drawings and theories. And that was key – I spent time writing out my ideas and feelings. Seriously, I couldn’t get enough, and it felt awesome. And today, for example, I have numerous pages written about how I came to understand the Fall, and I can follow along as I went from confusion, to understanding, to falling in love with the doctrine and principles contained in my studies. If you’ve ever enjoyed those interactions with the spirit, you know how great they are.
Also, like some of you, I’m sure, I’ve gotten lazy in my study; forgotten what it feels like to drink deep from the well of truth, and have lived on the vestiges of good habits from the past without replenishing for the future.
We tend to go in waves, don’t we? Who of you has watched General Conference and left with a resolve to overcome every single weakness that plagues you? We all have. And we tend to taper off in our resolve as time goes on. These waves come and go, and right now, I’ve decided they are coming. The tide shall henceforth never go out! We shall be as flooded as the Ganges delta!
Now here’s where you all come in. We are hosting a gospel study group in newsletter format (sign up for the emails here). This isn’t a discussion group or forum-type of listserve thing. Rather, we will be emailing out a quick note each day with some questions and supporting references. You will use this information to start getting better at planning your gospel study. Really, it’s a chance to follow along with a schedule, which is something I’ve always found helpful. And if it helps you be held accountable, if you respond to the emails, the This Week in Mormons army can (hopefully) keep tabs on you.
So if I may, here’s the way we should throw this down:
- Read your Book of Mormon for 30 minutes every single day. This is hard for me right now, life gets busy, poop happens; if I don’t get it in the morning, I’m hosed. This should be in addition to anything else we may throw at you, but we promise if you do it, your other study will be more fulfilling.
- On top of Book of Mormon study, give yourself some time (30 minutes is ideal) to topical study, which is where Gospel Study Sesh comes in. Treat it like a brainstorm session for a talk or lesson. Write out your talk on that topic, what you believe, what you remember, how you understand it, etc. We will throw out daily questions and references to guide you, and that is our main purpose here. By writing it out, you will grow. Even if you don’t feel like you know anything, write down whatever you think. To paraphrase Elder Holland, don’t focus on what you don’t know. Focus on what you do know – big or small – and on what you want to know. By writing it down, you’ll be surprised how much you really do know. Then, of course, write down what you wonder about and need to learn.
- We will pad out our curriculum with scriptures, talks, etc. We also welcome your input for those.
- Your emails will include a link to a form where you are welcome to share your thoughts with us. This is, of course, optional. The most important thing is for you to get into the habit of writing things down and starting a gospel journal.
- With your permission, any insights, scriptures, talks, songs, etc that you share can be used to build future curricula.
- The last question of every week will involve summarizing your findings over the week, then BOOM. Look what you have! You have a week’s worth of serious gospel study under your belt and you can refer to it forever.
Do you see how doing this repeatedly will yield awesome results? I’m promising you a noticeable uptick in spirituality and all around gratitude/feeling goodedness. Seriously, even if you think you know everything about this stuff, chances are you’ve actually forgotten plenty. So let’s journal out some good stuff here and document our understanding (hopefully we’ll laugh at how little we understood in a few years as we read back through our old journals when we’re all leading a coup against the Maxwell Institute).
Join in. Read our emails. Get your study on. Let’s be better.
Al (I wrote this) & Geoff (he edited it)