Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world have just heard again from modern-day Moseses: a living prophet, 12 apostles, and other leaders called by God. For 2 days, they taught us many truths with clarity, provided guidance regarding how to better run Christ’s Church as He would, and left us with exciting promises for the upcoming months.
If you missed any part of this 10-hour event, or to review the messages given, you can visit churchofjesuschrist.org to watch, listen to, or read the addresses.
In the wake of this dense outpouring of God’s word, I have heard most about the closing remarks from our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, at the end of the conference. He declares the following:
In the springtime of the year 2020, it will be exactly 200 years since Joseph Smith experienced the theophany that we know as the First Vision. God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph, a 14-year-old youth. That event marked the onset of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness, precisely as foretold in the Holy Bible.
Thus, the year 2020 will be designated as a bicentennial year. General conference next April will be different from any previous conference. In the next six months, I hope that every member and every family will prepare for a unique conference that will commemorate the very foundations of the restored gospel.President Russell M. Nelson, October 2019 General Conference
I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how excited they are for next general conference. I like that this enthusiasm regarding general conference is a growing trend as of recent years. President Nelson’s season finale certainly left us eager for more!
However, many seem to be left asking, what should I do to prepare? I have spent the last week asking myself the same question. I know I am very excited and grateful to be a part of this upcoming conference, but what should I do about it? The prophet has promised that if we do our part to prepare, the next general conference will “not only be memorable; it will be unforgettable.”
That’s why I have spent the week accumulating just a few answers to get both of us started!
Disclaimer: President Nelson has specifically asked that we practice the process of personal revelation to choose our own answers and make our own plan to prepare for this special general conference. This list is only provided as a springboard and supplement in your own process. You may choose to incorporate one, a few, many, or none of the following suggestions.
Let’s jump in to 15 ways to prepare for the much-anticipated 2020 bicentennial general conference!
15 Ways to Prepare for General Conference
#1 – Study the First Vision
Reading Joseph Smith’s record of the First Vision as recorded in the Pearl of Great Price is the first method President Nelson suggested as a way to prepare. (See the Pearl of Great Price.)
You may choose to go beyond just reading this record in your effort to learning more about the First Vision. A great place to start may be the Gospel Topics Essay: First Vision Accounts. You may also study and compare each of the 4 firsthand accounts, which are explained and linked in that essay. You might even choose to memorize a section of any of the accounts that speak to you especially.
#2 – Read Saints
Saints: The Standard of Truth, the first volume of the Saints series, released in 2018, details the beginnings of the Restoration of the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ. You may decide that reading or rereading it may help you understand the heritage of the Church and see the blessing that it is in these latter days.
#3 – Read the Doctrine and Covenants cover to cover
Members of the Church don’t commonly read this book cover to cover, but the Doctrine and Covenants is the source of many restored truths given to us by a gracious God. As it directly states, the Doctrine and Covenants “[contains] revelations given to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, with some additions by his successors in the presidency of the Church.”
If you have not read, have not read recently, or just feel you could better understand Doctrine and Covenants, this might be a great way for you to prepare for the next general conference.
#4 – Read the Book of Mormon cover to cover
Many members of the Church have grown to love the Book of Mormon. We have been urged by many recent prophets to study it every day.
Many members have purchased (or asked the missionaries for) a copy of the Book of Mormon and read it all the way through with a specific question or topic in mind. Many women answered President Nelson’s call last year to read the Book of Mormon and mark every reference to the Savior. Many who have done this have experienced a change in their lives and an increased sense of peace. They found answers to their questions and strengthened their understanding of and relationship with Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, some members have not yet read it, have not yet read it all the way through, or simply have not yet felt the “mighty change of heart” (Mosiah 5:2) so many claim to feel. Others may think they once felt it but no longer do, at least not as strongly.
Consider setting a goal to read the Book of Mormon all the way through between now and next general conference. You may choose to obtain a new, paperback copy in which you may mark scriptures and take notes as they regard a particular topic of your choice (i.e., the Restoration, blessings the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ, His Church, etc.).
#5 – Create a piece of art
Some people feel moved to express their feelings through the arts. For example, I like to write what I think into long posts. (Sorry not sorry!) You might feel inspired to create something as well. It may be in the form of a musical composition, a poem or essay, a 3-dimensional art project, or sketch or painting. This may help you focus your studies on a particular aspect of the Restoration and strengthen your testimony of it as you share it.
#6 – Ask the missionaries for help
The first lesson missionaries teach (as recommended in Preach My Gospel) is the Message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You may invite the missionaries to your home for a family activity or family home evening. Ask them to teach you the lesson of the Restoration and bear testimony of it in your home.
Ponder if there is someone in your life whom you could invite to attend the lesson. Ask God for strength and guidance as you invite them with love.
#7 – Watch the Book of Mormon Videos
President Nelson also recommended incorporating the new Book of Mormon Videos into your family and individual studies. This may be a great way to inspire conversations with and teach your children. It also might be a good way to replace other media time in your home with uplifting messages of Christ.
New videos are released on YouTube; episodes of the first season are posted on Fridays through the end of 2019.
#8 – Study the doctrine of the priesthood
In the women’s session of this past general conference, President Nelson gave women a charge:
I entreat you to study prayerfully all the truths you can find about priesthood power. You might begin with Doctrine and Covenants sections 84 and 107. Those sections will lead you to other passages. The scriptures and teachings by modern prophets, seers, and revelators are filled with these truths. As your understanding increases and as you exercise faith in the Lord and His priesthood power, your ability to draw upon this spiritual treasure that the Lord has made available will increase. As you do so, you will find yourselves better able to help create eternal families that are united, sealed in the temple of the Lord, and full of love for our Heavenly Father and for Jesus Christ.President Nelson, October 2019 General Conference, Women’s Session
Women, this certainly should be part of your plan to prepare for the next general conference. Men, you may also decide that following this counsel will benefit you and your family.
#9 – Study older general conference addresses by topic
All general conference addresses are evidence and a part of the ongoing process of the Restoration of Christ’s Church. Studying from many of them could be important in strengthening your testimony. If you decide to do so, choose a topic related to the Restoration you would like to study. Use your Gospel Library app or the Church website to search for and study all (or many of) the conference talks about that topic.
#10 – Find a personal place to write impressions, thoughts, questions, and take-aways
There is a good chance that you will choose to include this as part of your plan in tandem with one or many other methods of preparation.
There are also many ways to do this!: You could write in a notebook something that stands out to you every time you study, or you could even purchase a separate journal to fill with insights from your studies. You might prefer to make a list on your phone of all the blessings you can identify that come thanks to the Book of Mormon. Perhaps you will choose to make extensive notes and highlights in your Gospel Library app as you study.
I would highly recommend at least writing down the goals you have chosen for your plan to prepare for general conference.
Choose a system that works for you. If you try it and it isn’t working, just try something else.
#11 – Share your insights on social media
You might find that putting your social media time to good use can help you think more deeply about the things you study. You might set a goal to share one message a week on your Instagram story about something you read in your studies of the Restoration, or perhaps you will choose to share messages from the Book of Mormon Videos or other Church publications on Facebook.
#12 – Get an accountability partner or group
After you set your specific study goals, it may help you stay committed to get together with at least one person you are close to (a spouse, roommate, parent, good friend, etc.) and share your plan with them. It may be helpful to ask them to follow up with you occasionally to see how you are doing and what you are learning. You might ask them to do some of your plan with you for added support.
You could even get together with your family or a group of people who know each other’s goals and ask questions about what everyone is learning. You could even do this by hosting a group chat with friends, family, or ward members.
#13 – Share your testimony in sacrament meeting
If you are like me, you do not like sharing your testimony in sacrament meeting on fast Sunday.
I was once, however, inspired by a couple who made a New Year’s Resolution to share their testimony every month in fast and testimony meetings. They taught me what it means to share a powerful testimony. Their testimonies were often brief and rarely varied much in content or structure. They were mostly simple declarations of belief: “I believe in… I have faith that… I know…”
Our own faith and testimony will grow if we share simple, powerful testimony of the Savior, His Gospel, His Restored Church, and the consequent blessings thereof. As Apostle of the Lord Boyd K. Packer states, “A testimony is found in the bearing of it!”
Therefore, in your pursuit to learn more about Christ and His Restored Church, you could choose to set a goal for yourself to bear testimony in church.
#14 – Choose your own questions to study
As President Nelson concluded: “Select your own questions. Design your own plan.”
You might already have questions, concerns, uncertainties, or even doubts about aspects of the Church. There might just be one thing in Church history (or recent news!) that you don’t understand; you might wonder if Jesus Christ is real or really cares for you. Whether great or small, prayerfully decide which questions should be your guide as you plan to prepare for the next general conference.
If you don’t even know what you don’t know, ask God. He will guide you to what He wishes to teach you.
#15 – Appreciate what God has already taught you – study this past general conference
Show the Lord that you are grateful for this past conference. The Lord will give us what we prove we are ready to receive. If we ignore or forget about existing recent counsel, the Lord will hesitate to open to us new revelation.
Study each conference talk again. Look for what God is asking you to do. Write down specific goals and begin making changes to do these things in your life. Start now. Don’t be discouraged if (when) you are not perfectly achieving these goals; just don’t give up! If you consistently try to improve between now and next conference, you will show to the Lord that you are eager to hear His word and willing to work to apply it.
I believe that, if we make a habit of treasuring the word of God every time it is granted to us, every general conference will become unforgettable.
Share your insights with Spack Chats
So this is sort of a bonus tip. You’re welcome 😉
Of course, get the conversation going below. Also, check out the Spack Chats Instagram and Facebook pages, where you can share additional insights with extra conversation prompts. With your permission, I may even highlight your ideas and experiences.
I think that, if we help each other along, we can each experience a deeper conversion as we prepare for the upcoming general conference and everything else the Lord has in store for us.
What are you going to do to prepare for the bicentennial general conference? Do you have any other ideas to share? Is there something you have already learned since beginning to prepare?