As someone who works with the young men, I thought the recent Worldwide Leadership Training meeting for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was great (I’ll come back to that point). One thing the Church has been trying to work toward is a reduction in meetings and work load while increasing the efficacy and purpose of the meetings that are left. I liked Elder Bednar’s point that meetings should be opportunities for revelation. I’d add that if you are not receiving revelation during a church meeting, whether it is a Sacrament Meeting or a Ward Council, then either the meeting is not being run entirely appropriately or you are not completely prepared for the meeting. When we are engaged in the work of the Lord, we are entitled to receive revelation for ourselves, our family, and for our stewardships within the Church.
So why training meeting great for someone like me who works with the young men? Part of the changes to how wards function is to reduce the load on Bishops and their counselors. This means that they will be able to spend more time with the young men and the young single adults. A bishop is the president of the Priest quorum in the ward. He is the president of the Aaronic Priesthood in the ward as well. This means that if the Bishop is not in the quorum meeting with the Priests on Sunday, he is not where he is supposed to be. Bishops should be with their quorums. I know there are extenuating circumstances and other things that need to get done but the bishoprics are the primary leaders for the young men. When I was growing up my bishops were good about spending a lot of time with the young men. They came to our classes as often as possible and came on as many campouts as possible. They were great role models who led us as Christ would lead us, in love and righteousness.
But now, the Church is putting more emphasis on simplifying handbooks (when Elder Oaks stated that they had cut about 12% from the Stake Presidents’ and Bishops’ manual, I thought of Steve Jobs introducing a new Apple product that is now “thinner and lighter”). When you can simplify the bureaucracy by cutting administrative overhead, you have more time for ministrative service. This comes when all fulfill their responsibilities and help each other. Alma taught: “And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” (Mosiah 18:8). Part of being members of the Church is being willing to bear one another’s burdens. This is specifically the role of the Ward Council – to lighten the load on the Bishop by diffusing the weight. The old adage that many hands might light work is true.
As the Church procedures are simplified and streamlined, there is more time for the individual. This has been repeated many times but I can never state it enough – the people, not the programs of the Church are what are important. This is what the Apostles are reemphasizing with the changes to the leadership handbooks for the Church.