“The importance of the family was emphasized to the Prophet Joseph Smith even before the Church was organized. The Lord revealed to him a plan by which the priesthood was to watch over the Church. The Saints were instructed “to visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.” ( D&C 20:47.) He told the teachers to “watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.” ( D&C 20:53–55.)
From that time forward, to a degree, all homes in the Church have been visited monthly. This was known as ward teaching.
In September 1963 [almost 50 years ago] home teaching was introduced to the Church. This differs from ward teaching in that greater emphasis is placed on watching over the family, rather than just making a monthly visit. Instructions have been given that the duty of the home teacher is to keep in touch with the families, to watch over them, to contact them in whatever manner necessary, in order to watch over them. We are told that home teaching is not just the one visit a month, but that home teaching is never done. We are to have concern for these families every day as long as they are assigned to us. The one visit a month to a family is important, but it is only one means of contact as we watch over our families.
“It will be [the home teachers’] responsibility,” President Romney [says], “to make sure that infants are blessed; that children are baptized at eight years of age; and that boys are worthy and qualified to be ordained to the priesthood at 12 years of age and that they are so ordained; that they move through the grades of the priesthood in proper order; that candidates for marriage are properly taught the importance and sanctity of temple marriage and the church standards which will qualify them for it, to the end that they will be married in the temple. It will be the responsibility of the two visiting brethren to know the available church activities for each family member and encourage him to avail himself of them—such activities, for example, as Sacrament meetings, stake conferences, and other activities; activities provided by priesthood quorums, auxiliary organizations, … genealogical and temple work, and so forth.” (Improvement Era, December 1962, pp. 938–39.)
This is really watching over the Church. After [almost 50 years now] of home teaching, however, I am afraid we are really still doing mostly ward teaching. We are still prodding the priesthood home teachers to “hurry and get your home teaching done—the month is nearly over.” Even now the home teacher is heard to say, “If I really had a message to take to my families, I could do my teaching.”
These things indicate we really don’t have the vision of “watching over the Church.” We might have a great record of percentage of homes visited each month, but the real test is: Are we affecting the lives of the individual members of the family for good through our contacts? Are we respecting the sacred nature of the family unit by working with and through the father? Do we sit down with the father as often as needed? Do we listen to him? Do we encourage and praise and otherwise uplift him?
Our calling and opportunity as home teachers is to watch over and strengthen fathers of families;
Our thought as home teachers should always be: How can I help the fathers under my care magnify their priesthood by fully accepting their responsibilities as patriarchs of their families?”
so .. have you 'done' your home teaching this month? :>