I am still settling into my new calling teaching the Gospel Essentials class and while I have a few qualms with the way it is set up in my ward, I want to talk a little bit about the manual.  In the past, I have sat in on this class, but have not taught it.  As we have all been using the manual for Priesthood and Relief Society for the last year, though, I wonder if you have felt that some of these “essentials” were not, in fact, entirely essential.  I have.  Here are my nominations for lessons that we just don’t need taught in this course:

  1. The Gifts of the Spirit
  2. Developing our Talents
  3. Family Responsibilities
  4. The Gathering of the House of Israel
  5. The Signs of the Second Coming

There are a fair number of other chapters which could stand to be combined.

  1. Our Heavenly Father + Our Heavenly Family
  2. The Priesthood + The Priesthood Organization
  3. The Church of Jesus Christ in Former Time + The Church of Jesus Christ Today
  4. The Family can be Eternal + Eternal Marriage
  5. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ + The Millennium

It’s not that any of these topics doesn’t have substance, or cannot handle discussion through an LDS lens–I just don’t think they are foundational.  Does it matter, for example, that investigators and new members adopt our attitudes about developing their talents?  I think not.  I would much rather spend more time on, oh, I don’t know, Jesus.  Or even to free up a few weeks for holiday lessons (Christmas and Easter), follow-up on lessons that get cut off or answering questions, or perhaps topics of contemporary or local interest.  Maybe even a little more Church history. Perhaps even shepherd the new members into a real temple preparation class leading up to their one-year anniversary.

All those other topics will, indeed, come up in other Sunday School lessons, talks, and third hour lessons (many times) over the course of one’s Church experience.

What do you think?  Are there any topics you feel could be tossed?  Do you feel strongly that any I have targeted are necessary?  Are there other topics you think new members need that are not included in the manual?