Relief Society Lesson Plan: “Ministering as the Savior Does” by Jean B. Bingham

With the restructuring of the Relief Society lesson curriculum, President Bingham’s April 2018 address is designated as a General Conference address that can be a theme for a lesson for 2ndand 3rdSunday meetings.

President Bingham’s remarks have to do with ministering in general as well as specific adaptations and changes to the former visiting teaching program, now called “ministering.” Her guidance could serve as an ongoing resource for Council Sunday classes, Ministering interviews, as well as a supplement and guide to 4thSunday lessons on Ministering. This lesson plan can be used and adapted to any of the possible class formats.

The directive for 2nd/3rdweek lessons and suggested lesson plan from the Ensign is found at this link. It includes the following instructions for 2nd/3rdSunday teachers.

A Pattern for Our Meeting

After the presidency member conducts the opening business and follows up on past lesson’s action items or the sharing of success stories, the class discussion time is turned over to a teacher.  The discussion is presented as an opportunity to “Learn Together” through the following ways:

  • Search for something
  1. An Answer to a Question
  2. An Inspiring Passage
  3. An Example of a Principle (Principle = “a concentrated truth, packaged for application across a wide variety of circumstances”)
  • Share and discuss what you find
  • Consider how the message applies to the participant’s own lives and experiences.

Here are some questions and possible learning opportunities pulled from her words.

Q: “Why do we serve others?” or “How do we show love and gratitude for God and Jesus Christ?” (Paragraph 2)  “What sort of things “count” as service?” (Paragraph 3)

Inspiring Passage: “As you have the privilege to represent the Savior in your ministering efforts, ask yourself….What is the Spirit inspiring me to do?”

The transformation of the Activity-formerly-known-as-visiting-teaching to “ministering” is similar to recent improvements made to the missionary program. Scripted discussions went away, and a principle-based/Spirit-led approach was introduced in Preach My Gospel.  Doing away with scripted conversations, spiritual discussions and friendships will improve the organic way women relate to one another in the Relief Society. Throw out the script and listen to the Spirit!  Draw from your existing knowledge base of gospel truths and principles, show empathy and “Do What She Needs.”

Q: How can we think outside the box of what opportunities or activities we could do as part of our Ministering efforts? (Paragraph 6)

Q: Given these additional ideas about ministering to others, would anyone like to share an experience of being on the receiving end of such a needed ministry that went beyond a perfunctory visit with a photocopied message? (examples in Paragraphs 7,8,10)

Paragraph 12 discusses the inclusion of Young Women ages 14-18 in the Relief Society ministering efforts. An entire “1stSunday Council meeting” could be devoted to this topic, but some discussion time could be spent in this lesson about ways to help integrate the YW from your specific ward in the ministering work. What unique talents do they possess, and how could they be magnified by needed service? Invite mothers of current YW to share ways to relate to their daughters and suggestions for how to involve them in service.

Inspiring Passage: “No matter our age, when we consider how to minister most effectively, we ask, ‘What does she [or he] need?’ Coupling that question with sincere desire to serve, we are then led by the Spirit to do what would lift and strengthen the individual.”

Q: What’s the difference between doing what WE think she needs versus doing what she ACTUALLY needs, or what the Spirit tells us she might need? How can we find out if our idea to serve someone is welcome and helpful? How can we avoid being pushy with our service and inserting ourselves in an unwelcome way?

Q: What motivates “true ministering?” How can the power of our ministering be “irresistible”? (Paragraph 18)

Inspiring Passage: “The Savior is our example in everything – not only in what we should do by whywe should do it.”  (Paragraph 19)

Example of a Principle (unity): “How does it feel when ministering is carried out in this way? (4 Nephi 1:15-16)

Suggestion for the Closing Hymn: Sing “Lord I would follow Thee” but ask everyone beforehand to switch to all female pronouns: she, sister. It’s a powerful exercise to connect our hymn of prayer directly to the women in the room with us. Sometimes the gendered language of our hymns doesn’t register in our minds until we flip it, but when we do, it can have a tremendous impact.  This would be a lovely way to end the class discussion.


Violadiva is an oxymoron, a musician, a yogi, a Suzuki violin teacher, a late-night baker of sourdough breads, proud Mormon feminist, happy wife of Pianoman and lucky mother to three.

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