The next three chapters are interesting- Gordon B. Hinckley Chapter 20: Fellowship with Those Who Are Not of Our Faith is all about being friends with everyone- not simply those that attend our ward. Then Chapter 21 is about missionary work and Chapter 22 is all about reaching out with love to new converts and less-active members. These three chapters could easily be combined into one but there is a reason that it is three distinct chapters. Fellowshipping those not of our faith includes finding the common ground and working together to achieve that goal. We see our general church leaders doing that as they work to help the poor, clean up after disasters, and provide rooms for worship.
As we reach out in friendship, we inevitably end up learning ourselves. Some of the best examples of being Christ-like for me have come from people of other faiths. They don't wait to be asked to help out, they see the need and go and do. They find those that are lonely and take them in. They feed the hungry without fanfare. What have you learned from those of other faiths?
Questions to Ponder
Some of these questions are from the manual, others are ones that I thought of- use them in your preparation, lesson, or to help you think of your own.
- In our relationships with others, why is it helpful to remember that we are all children of God? (see section 1)
- How can you cultivate greater appreciation and respect for others?
- How can adults teach children to appreciate and respect others?
- How can you recognize if you are manifesting arrogance or self-righteousness in your relationships? (see section 2)
- How can you show greater friendship and love toward those who have different beliefs?
- Why is it important that Church members work together with other people in good causes? (see section 3) What are some examples of this?
- How can you become a greater influence for good in your community?
- What can you learn about discipleship from President Hinckley's teachings in section 4?
- How have you seen love and respect overcome feelings of animosity?
- Why is your behavior towards others "the most persuasive argument for that which we believe"?
- How can you specifically reach out to others?
- What are some things you have learned from those of other faiths through their reaching out to you?
- What are some habits that we do that may inadvertently turn other people off? Are these things we can slightly change to be more inclusive?
- Do you have any experiences where you have stood up for another religion?
- How can you invite others to "bring with you such truth as you have and let us see if we can add to it” without being boastful or arrogrant?
Here are some articles to study as you continue to prepare for your lesson. They should NOT replace the manual but rather help answer questions and strengthen your own testimony so that it is easy to teach with confidence and answer questions that arise during your lesson.
"'You Are My Hands'" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
"'I Was a Stranger'" by Sister Linda K. Burton
"We Bear Witness of Him" by President Gordon B. Hinckley
"We Aren't God's Only People" by Samuel B. Hislop (LDS.org blog)
"Respect for Other People's Beliefs" by Gerald E. Jones
"Our Father's Plan- Big Enough for All His Children" by Elder Quentin L. Cook
"Doctrine of Inclusion" by Elder M. Russell Ballard
Deseret Bookshelf PLUS Recommendations
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"My Neighbor, My Sister, My Friend" by Ardeth Greene Kapp She also wrote, "Doing What We Came to Do: Living a Life of Love."
Different Beliefs (about 1 1/2 minutes)- Words from President Hinckley
Bring Forth Fruit with Patience: The Dysert Family (about 4 minutes)- A recent convert's story
The Power of Reaching Out (about 3 1/2 minutes)- Story of one young woman reaching out in the community.
Humanitarian Visitor Center Film (about 12 1/2 minutes)- Great example of how to reach out to others.
These are my ideas. My hope is that reading my thoughts will be a springboard to finding the right plans for your class.
- Mormon Newsroom always has great stories about how the Church is reaching out in fellowship to people around the world. You could print a couple of the stories out to put on the board as examples or break into groups, giving each group one story and asking them what we can learn from the story and hopefully give a specific example of how to put that into action.
- I know we talked about JustServe.org with Chapter 14 but it's another great resource for this lesson. Often the opportunities suggested are with other faiths. It's a great way to get involved in the community as well. You can either demonstrate how it works on a big screen or remind people of this great resource. There is an app as well making it easy to look up opportunities wherever you are.
- Print off the above posters for your class to hang in their home as a reminder. There are two sizes so be sure to only print the ones you want.
- A great example of not getting angry but building on commonalities is how the Church approached "The Book of Mormon" the musical. Missionaries were often in front handing out free copies of The Book of Mormon while in the program there was an ad suggesting that people read the book. No scenes were caused, just a simple outreaching. And yes, there have been converts from it.
- With permission, show a clip from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. At the end of the movie during the reception, the father of the bride makes a speech about how their families have come together. He struggled with his daughter marrying someone that wasn't Greek but he finds a commonality to build on- one last name comes from the Greek word for orange and one from the Greek word for apple. In the end, they are all fruit. Then you can discuss commonalities that you can build on within your community.
- Watch the part of the 60 Minutes interview with President Hinckley (with permission) mentioned in the introduction. It's a great way to get into section 2. There is also his interview with Larry King.
- Read this A Letter to Mormons (the bullet points) and talk about how we can overcome these obstacles or avoid falling into that trap.
- Avoiding any political statements, you could read the Church's statements on the recent situation in Charlottesville Virginia (August) to the class then discuss.
- Use this quote from Quentin L. Cook to help demonstrate the principle behind section 1. If you can, bring in a set of nesting dolls. Label the core, or smallest doll with "Child of God." Then use the rest of the dolls to describe an individual such as blonde, tennis player, etc. Open it up one at a time with the very basic descriptions on the bigger dolls and the more intimate details on the smaller dolls. As we get to know people we see them more for who they are- children of God. OR if you have access to several dolls, you can drive home the point that the no matter what's on the outside, the inside is always the same.
- Play some get to you know you games to put this lesson into practice. There are the classics like Icebreaker Bingo, the Get to Know You M&M game, or try one of these icebreakers. There are plenty more ideas on Pinterest too. Remember to stick to your time limit though!
- Take the time to brainstorm ways your class can reach out in the community. Write the ideas on the board then take a picture of it so you can type up the ideas and follow through with it later.
- Go dramatic and read the Edwin Markham poem in section 4 with gusto and props then ask for real life examples of it.
- Use dominoes to illustrate how each act of fellowship adds up. First, build two circles of dominoes separate from each other. Then ask for people to share an experience of working together or friendshipping those of other faiths. For each example, put a domino down to connect the two circles then tip the first domino to show the chain reaction.