First off, let me say that I really don’t mean for this post to be negative. I think the new youth curriculum is a step in the right direction. However, we are still teaching youth, so there are always going to be challenges…
As I’m sure everyone knows by now, in January of this year the youth (Sunday School classes, Aaronic Priesthood quorum meetings, and YW classes) started using a new curriculum called Come, Follow Me. The old manuals were dated and had stories and analogies that the youth just couldn’t relate to. If you stuck to the material (like some teachers feel you have to do), then the youth weren’t interested. If you chose to go off on your own, that would work, but it was a lot more work. The new material is based on recent talks by General Authorities and a lot of the Mormon Messages for Youth videos. The material is current, and the youth are to be more involved in the lessons.
Recently KSL TV in Salt Lake City had an article and video about how youth are excited about the new curriculum. As I watched the video, I thought to myself, “Yeah, right!” (said with a sarcastic tone). The experience we’ve had around here is not quite like the video is describing. Don’t get me wrong. I love the YM that I work with and my wife loves the YW she works with (she is the YW President), but the youth are far from excited about much Church-related things these days. That to me is the big challenge. Our youth have at most 10 members attending their high school of 1,000 people. They are surrounded by people who swear, look at pornography, drink, are sexually active, and more, and it is hard. I think they ultimately want to do what is right, but they sometimes seem beaten down by the realities of life.
This isn’t to say that I’m giving up. Far from it. But I just wanted to post something in case there are other leaders out there frustrated. Sometimes we hear these glowing stories about how a new program is working miracles, but when we look at our own experiences we haven’t seen the success. I’m confident that as I continue to prepare lessons, treat the YM with respect, and love them, that they will be able to feel the love of God through me. That can only be a good thing!