On hometeaching

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SilentDawning
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On hometeaching

Post by SilentDawning » 15 Mar 2017, 17:38

The more I think about hometeaching, the more frustrated I get with the program.

I don't understand why it hasn't been revamped over the last few decades. Help me understand this...

While the concept is good -- each priesthood holder (and maybe a companion), have families to visit to strengthen and then help them, practical implementation is so "off". And it should be evident to the brethren if the church is anything like the 14 wards I served in on my mission, and the 7 I lived in as a regular member.

1. Many, many Elders seem not to do it and most refuse PPI's.
2. It causes conflict between priesthood leaders and brethren.
3. Measurement makes it nearly impossible to feel successful from an organizational perspective. There is no way to report effort, when the receiving family won't respond to the home teacher. And the standard of 100% home teaching seems unattainable and unrealistic.
4. Even high priests never achieved 35% of home teaching in most wards I attended.
5. It frustrates priesthood leaders who have to implement the program.
6. Many families are annoyed by it and don't want home teachers.

To me, it seems like a big violation of agency, and something that makes the experience of being a Mormon highly unpleasant....

I am not saying I don't think the idea is good -- a buffer between the Bishop and the members, when there is a legitimate need, is necessary. Built in service for the priesthood is not a bad idea either. I personally don't mind it if the family makes themself available, or if they give me a level of contact that I can abide by. And when leaders aren't all over my case about it (as a High Councilor once was).

Do you think the HT program is effective as currently designed? If not, why haven't the people at the top seen this, and made adjustments? There are so many adjustments that could make home teaching a program that is far more positive for HTeachers, families and leaders. But I have not seen any change in over 30 years of membership.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 16 Mar 2017, 07:30, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

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squarepeg
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by squarepeg » 15 Mar 2017, 17:59

Well, I don't feel qualified to say how effective the program is in its current incarnation, but in our previous ward my husband and I made adjustments from the bottom. We told our HTs that we would like to get together monthly as families and do dinner or some other activity, in lieu of the traditional setup where your HTs show up on your porch and read to you... And we requested no magazine message, please, unless it happens to come up in the course of natural conversation. It worked well from our perspective, and our HTs seemed to really enjoy it, too. We did the same thing with the people my husband was assigned to Home Teach, also, to the extent possible. I don't even know if that counts as legit HTing, but my husband is like Teflon about church policy stuff. He considers it to be mostly made up by old white men and he doesn't care about numbers or percentages. He just believes in helping people out where we can. When he has been assigned people to Home Teach who clearly didn't need anything, he hasn't done anything for them, so I'm sure his reported numbers looked bad sometimes.

I figure the tracking of numbers and statistics is just to adapt it for the people who are motivated by quantitative feedback. The people motivated more by qualitative stuff maybe can just ignore the data and focus on what Jesus would do for a certain person, and try to do that.

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squarepeg
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by squarepeg » 15 Mar 2017, 18:01

Why does it cause conflict and frustration?

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DarkJedi
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by DarkJedi » 16 Mar 2017, 03:39

I agree the concept of home teaching is sound, especially in regard to helping and strengthening each other or loving our neighbors. I also agree the system is broken and I don't see how the top leaders don't see it - if only because it has never really worked.

I think part of the problem is the fix because there doesn't seem to be one. In my own mind ideally we'd be in little groups of neighbors who look out for each other, perhaps combining HT/VT somehow - kind of like a "it takes a village" approach. Such a plan still has its pitfalls, including distance. For instance, my closest active member neighbor is just a short walk (as is a rather antagonistic inactive) but the next closest is about 4 miles away. I have known the inactive for many years, but I don't like him at all. That doesn't mean I wouldn't help should they really need help, but I don't go out of my way to interact (I say hi if he's outside and I'm walking by and yes, I was once assigned to home teach there, I didn't go).

I also think a big part of the problem, which was partly addressed in the much ballyhooed recent Conference address, is that HT has become another Pharisaical checklist thing. The problem is, even with any different way of reporting it's still reporting and it's still a checklist for those who need/want the checklist (which would appear to be most who do home teaching).
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nibbler
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by nibbler » 16 Mar 2017, 06:04

I think we saw a sign of change in Holland's general conference address from October '16.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/ ... h?lang=eng

I could complain about HTing all day. ;) You want to know a secret? The biggest obstacle to me doing home teaching was setting up the appointment. Once that crucial step was out of the way I generally didn't have much of a problem with the rest.
SilentDawning wrote:
15 Mar 2017, 17:38
I am not saying I don't think the idea is good -- a buffer between the Bishop and the members, when there is a legitimate need, is necessary.
I wanted to talk about these two points:

1) A buffer between the Bishop and members. I think this is very important but from my observations over the years the HT program doesn't accomplish this. Often the families that need help don't want to talk to Elisha's messenger, they want to talk directly with Elisha. I can't tell you how many times I visited a family, asked them if they needed anything, they told me no, and they'd be waiting outside the BP's office that Sunday looking for something.

The fun really began when the BP would then get onto the EQP who in turn would get on to me for not meeting their needs before it "escalated" to the BP's attention.

Disclaimer, I know it's more complicated than that. Families have to get comfortable before sharing their needs... with strangers... that don't really have any "clout"... that get swapped out every 6 months or so.

Bottom line. When people need something they typically go directly to the BP regardless.

2) When there is a legitimate need. That's not really how the HT program works. It's something that's done regardless of need. That may be partially why people go directly to the BP for things, we've moved the HT program away from meeting needs and towards doing obligatory monthly visits. There's a different expectation of what HTing is now.

Disclaimer, some people have a need to be visited and taught by HTers each month. I don't, but other people do. Why not allow me to opt out of the traditional program so our teachers have one less family to visit? Put me on a "call these people when you need something, otherwise I'm good" list.

Disclaimer 2, I've also regularly seen leaders take the attitude of if HTing stats are going to be in the 20-25% range, shift focus from the active families that are mostly self sufficient to the inactive families or families that may need help. Target the right people with that 20-25% of families visited.

The program is not a total failure.
squarepeg wrote:
15 Mar 2017, 18:01
Why does it cause conflict and frustration?
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It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
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SilentDawning
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by SilentDawning » 16 Mar 2017, 07:41

squarepeg wrote:
15 Mar 2017, 18:01
Why does it cause conflict and frustration?

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1. Leaders get frustrated with brethren who refuse to do their home teaching.
2. Leaders get reamed by stake leaders about neglect of home teaching when they see low HT numbers -- even when the PH leaders are trying really hard.
3. Rank and file priesthood holders get tired of being guilt-tripped, or goaded into doing their home teaching. Some won't even accept PPI's because they k1now HT will come up. Priesthood leaders become kind of like the enemy almost, to some of them. Or at least, on the subject of home teaching.

Here is a case in point on the frustration thing. We had a stake conference. I had pleaded, begged and done everything possible to get people to do their HT, but only the same 10 people would do it. We had a blitz in February and saw 35 families we hadn't seen in a while. The Same 10 People did it.

Then the Stake President came to our HP Group meeting and "called us to repentence" on home teaching. The guy hadn't done a lick of research into the effort behind the numbers. Didn't know about the Same Ten People doing 35 extra visits. Hadn't considered the agency of the families assigned to be home taught, or the fact that I'd tried to PPI everyone and half the brethren wouldn't accept a PPI, knowing what it was going to be about. Half of the HT's were inactive too.

That ticked me off. The SP was supposed to be there to strengthen us, not to demotivate the Same 10 People who were the salt of the earth.

Second incident...

Ward conference -- the SP Counselor comes to a joint PH meeting. He is a lawyer by trade, so he turns the class into a court where an issue is placed on the table regarding lack of action in home teaching. He divided the room up into the people who do HT, and the "slackers" as he put it. The class was to be a debate between the two sides.

Someone in the class didn't like his approach and said "SLACKERS??????". Effectively challenging his use of language. He backed off and never did the exercise. But you can see the blatant disregard for the underlying issues.

The program is so broken, I wish we could revamp it. I know it could be made to work better. Removing the assumption-making of the Stake leaders would help. Making it possible to feel successful as a HT and leader, after people exercise theri agency would help. And letting families opt in or out of the program would also help.

SD
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

squarepeg
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by squarepeg » 16 Mar 2017, 08:01

nibbler wrote:
16 Mar 2017, 06:04

Is your dam strong enough to hold back those flood waters? Do you have a spillway to alleviate the pressure? Is there a backup spillway?

:P
Sorry, my question was stupid. Never mind. SilentDawning had outlined it in the original post. :oops:

It is frustrating because...

* The percentages are so low, meaning most people aren't being Home Taught / aren't doing their HTing. So why have a program designed so that it always feels like we're failing?
* The above leads to Priesthood leaders who have to implement it getting frustrated because the numbers aren't higher. Then they feel like failures for not ensuring that everyone does a better job.
* Unsuccessful attempts/efforts at it don't get "counted". So it feels like even if you try your best, your numbers may still look bad.
* Many ppl don't want HTers. So those people try to avoid making appointments and make it hard for HTers to come over. (This is us! We finally just told them we didn't want any, so now we don't have any.)
* It feels forced (you're looked down upon and/or you'll feel guilty if you don't participate).

Lots of things in our church are violations of agency, just like Home Teaching. It's like, you can opt out, but it's looked-down-upon.

Garments. Tithing. Accepting callings. Showing up to all your meetings. Visiting Teaching (except at least the women have the advantage of having failed efforts/attempts "count"). Word of Wisdom. ...

I'd like to add another frustration. As a wife of a HTer with small kids, it is frustrating to lose your husband on Sunday afternoon/evening or other times during the week while he's out reading to literate people from a magazine.

Question (hopefully less stupid, this time): If the family you Home Teach doesn't want a visit and just wants an email/text/call to check on them, and they state that preference overtly, does that then "count"?

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nibbler
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by nibbler » 16 Mar 2017, 08:02

squarepeg wrote:
16 Mar 2017, 08:01
Sorry, my question was stupid. Never mind.
Nah. It was a valid question. I was just ribbing you. :smile:
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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Holy Cow
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by Holy Cow » 16 Mar 2017, 08:10

I've been in one ward where home teaching was actually implemented very well, and the monthly numbers were around 85%.
During the opening exercises of priesthood, after all of the business was taken care of, and before splitting off to different quorums, they would give everybody five minutes to get together with their home teaching companions and families to schedule HT appointments. And, if the HT family didn't feel like they needed a visit, they could tell the home teachers that they were good, and they could count that as a visit. So, many visits were simply touching base and making sure everything was okay. It worked pretty well, because more of the people who were in church every week didn't feel like they needed a monthly visit anyway. And it gave companionships a dedicated time to get together and call any families who weren't there. So, people were on their phones calling their families to set up appointments, companionships were reporting to the EQP. So, there were five minutes dedicated specifically to HT every single week, and that helped eliminate the end-of-the-month panic. The one big downside was that it didn't involve the whole family. It was just the priesthood holders involved. Some of the wives may have wanted a visit, while the husbands were saying they didn't need a visit. But, it was the most effective implementation I've seen so far.
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squarepeg
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Re: On hometeaching

Post by squarepeg » 16 Mar 2017, 08:13

Thanks for answering my dumb question.
SilentDawning wrote:
16 Mar 2017, 07:41

Ward conference -- the SP Counselor comes to a joint PH meeting. He is a lawyer by trade, so he turns the class into a court where an issue is placed on the table regarding lack of action in home teaching. He divided the room up into the people who do HT, and the "slackers" as he put it. The class was to be a debate between the two sides.

Someone in the class didn't like his approach and said "SLACKERS??????". Effectively challenging his use of language. He backed off and never did the exercise. But you can see the blatant disregard for the underlying issues.

The program is so broken, I wish we could revamp it. I know it could be made to work better. Removing the assumption-making of the Stake leaders would help. Making it possible to feel successful as a HT and leader, after people exercise theri agency would help. And letting families opt in or out of the program would also help.

SD
This one is just...wow. There are myriad reasons why a person might have a low reporting %. "Slacker" is only one possibility.

This makes me wonder if we are dragging someone's % down by not having HTers. Maybe we DO have assigned Home Teachers and they're just having to report a lower percentage because we don't have them over. :(

I wonder what would happen if the percentage reporting was scrapped. What if the reporting was qualitative rather than quantitative? What if the focus was more on the individual members/families, not on numbers at all? So the goal is simply to make sure the flock is watched-over. And leave the implementation details up to the local leadership. HQ could implement it just for a year...just as an experiment. Like the experiment of not having 2nd hour on Sundays. (I wonder what happened to that!).

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