The Trek Continues by Elder M. Russell Ballard Lesson Plan
The Trek Continues by Elder M. Russell Ballard is actually quite a lovely General Conference talk, and could be taken in many different directions. The suggested LDS.org prompts is this:
To begin a discussion about Elder Ballard’s message, you could invite someone to share an experience when they had a destination but discovered they were on the wrong route. How do examples like these relate to our personal “trek” back to Heavenly Father? Members could then search for counsel and warnings that Elder Ballard gives that can help us know if we are headed in the right direction in our own lives. Give members time to ponder their own paths and to discuss ways we can help and encourage others in their “trek” back to Heavenly Father.
I do not mind this, but I would amend the questions to reflect Heavenly Mother and/or Heavenly Parents rather than just “Heavenly Father.”
Now, personally, I am not a fan of watching or listening to the conference talk in the actual lesson time. Thus, I suggest preparing some portions of the talk that you aim to discuss on slips of paper that can be handed out at the start of class. If possible, I suggest looking up the history of the chapel you meet in, or some local church history in your area and sharing it with the class. The purpose of this is to help everyone feel an integral part of the church’s history, and not just the early Saints who went on trek in the United States. As the title of the talk suggests, “The trek continues…” it also implies that the trek never ended. Thus, no matter where you worship, local pioneers helped build the chapels and establish the congregation where you are meeting. Give them some attention, respect and gratitude! For example:
- What year was the chapel you meet in constructed?
- If it was constructed before the 1980’s, see if there are any records or see if there are older church members who might recall what people did as fundraisers to help build that chapel.
- Who dedicated the chapel where you worship?
- See if you can get a copy of the dedicatory prayer, and see what blessings were promised to those who would attend church there.
- (you may choose to do the following for your closest temple rather than your ward building)
Next, (or if the above is not feasible) hand the papers out and discuss each in whatever order you choose. My examples are listed chronologically in the talk as follows:
Despite their many differences in language, culture, and nationality, they shared a testimony of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a desire to build Zion—a place of peace, happiness, and beauty in preparation for the Second Coming of the Savior.
In 2018, how can church members in a politically, socially and culturally diverse world connect as one? What can we do locally to connect ourselves to church members in our home wards? What can we do to better fellowship those who have differing cultural or political preferences?
The early Saints were not perfect, but they established a foundation upon which we are building families and a society that love and keep covenants, which is highlighted in various news stories around the world because of our commitment to Jesus Christ and our volunteer efforts to help those nearby and far away.
Is anyone in here perfect? What can we do to build a foundation for Christ in spite of our imperfections?
I have a deep conviction that if we lose our ties to those who have gone before us, including our pioneer forefathers and mothers, we will lose a very precious treasure. I have spoken about “Faith in Every Footstep” in the past and will continue in the future because I know that rising generations must have the same kind of faith that the early Saints had in the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.
How does connecting to pioneers—be it the Pioneers following Brigham Young in America, to the young missionaries who first established church branches outside of North America—help us to develop our testimonies? Why is it important for us to be in tune with our history?
Although it is appropriate and important to remember the historic 19th-century Mormon pioneer trek, we need to remember that “the trek through life continues!” for each of us as we prove our own “faith in every footstep. New converts no longer gather to pioneer settlements in the western United States. Instead, converts gather to their local congregations, where the Saints worship our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. With more than 30,000 congregations established around the world, all are gathered to their own Zion. As the scriptures note, “For this is Zion—the pure in heart.”
What can you do to help your local ward to feel like Zion? Are there some friendships that could be mended? Are there personality clashes that could and should be softened and amended?
Close by bearing your testimony that life is a journey and that we are all progressing at different rates and in different ways.
If possible: Have this following quote as a final handout for people to take home and ponder. Feel free to bear your testimony about any hard-won “multiplicity of blessings” you may have experienced in your life.
Many of us are on amazing journeys of discovery—leading to personal fulfillment and spiritual enlightenment. Some of us, however, are on a trek that leads to sorrow, sin, anguish, and despair.
In this context, please ask yourself: What is your final destination? Where are your footsteps taking you? And is your journey leading you to that “multiplicity of blessings” the Savior has promised?