5 Highlights for “The Doctrine of Belonging” by Elder Christofferson
5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
What does it mean to “belong”? How do we know when we truly belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Belonging starts within us; Elder Christofferson’s insights are profound.
Elder Christofferson also echoes President Nelson’s words: get your own direct, personal relationship with the Savior NOW. We’re down to the wire and what matters most is: are you strongly connected directly to Christ – independent of anything or anyone else?
You can find Elder Christofferson’s full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.
All blue quotes by D. Todd Christofferson (unless otherwise noted).
Possible Quote Sequence
- Quotes 1, 2, and 3 are reflective. Quote 4 is about covenants, and Quote 5 is about connecting to the Savior. If I were doing this lesson, I’d pick my two favorite quotes from 1,2, or 3. Then do #5 as the 3rd quote to discuss. If there is time, I would keep going, but #4 is thoroughly covered in several other General Conference talks, so #4 would be my last priority to cover.
- I would do 1, 3, 5, 2, and 4 in that order.
Quote #1 (look within)
Elder Christofferson shares the ideal Church culture with these verses from 1 Corinthians 12:25-26:
“That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
This scripture reference truly describes Zion: to be of one heart and one mind.
Possible quick question: What does schism mean? (pronounced skiz’m) Have you ever been sad about someone else’s pain? What did you do for them? Is it sometimes hard to feel glad for someone else’s good fortune? How can we help ourselves be happier for them and ourselves?
schism: detachment, alienation, rift, split, division
Optional – deepen the understanding: Right now, it’s hard for a good portion of our congregation to be truly happy for someone else’s bright moments and good fortune. Generally, there is some jealousy and resentment among our members. I’ve certainly witnessed these dynamics at Church, and it is okay to acknowledge that it exists. Elder Holland says it candidly:
“Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,” as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.” (The Laborers in the Vineyard – April 2012)
Quick discussion question: Elder Holland names several behaviors that cause “schisms.” What are they? (coveting, pouting, tearing others down, demeaning)
For me, Elder Holland’s message says we need to keep our jealousy and resentment in check.
Quote #2 (expectations)
Possible engagement tool: Tell your group that Elder Christofferson uses a vital word three times in this quote. See if you can catch it.
A sense of belonging is important to our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Yet it is quite possible that at times each of us might feel that we don’t fit in. In discouraging moments, we may feel that we will never measure up to the Lord’s high standards or the expectations of others. We may unwittingly impose expectations on others—or even ourselves—that are not the Lord’s expectations.
expectations: assumption, projection, prediction
Possible discussion questions: Elder Christofferson uses a vital word three times; what is it? (expectations) What is another word for expectations? How can expectations lead to disappointment? Elder Christofferson names three sources of expectations: the expectations of others, our own, and the Lord’s. How can they be different from each other? Do our expectations need adjusting sometimes? Why is a sense of belonging important to you?
Quote #3 (reach out)
This point is a home run; this is a much-needed quote/topic for any Bishop, Elders Quorum president, or Relief Society president. (Says me.)
A second facet of the doctrine of belonging has to do with our own contributions. Although we rarely think about it, much of our belonging comes from our service and the sacrifices we make for others and for the Lord. Excessive focus on our personal needs or our own comfort can frustrate that sense of belonging.
We strive to follow the Savior’s doctrine:
“Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister. …
“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
“Belonging comes not as we wait for it but as we reach out to help one another.”
Perhaps one of the more ironic complaints I hear is that “no one from the ward visits me or talks to me.”
Possible discussion questions: What does being a “minister” mean? Why did Christ not focus on who ministered to Him? How have you reached out to others that have worked out well? Elder Christofferson said, “belonging comes not as we wait for it but as we reach out to help one another.” How do you feel about that statement? How does focusing on what we want to receive – increase our unhappiness? Whose job is it to have conversations and make connections in your life?
Quote #4 (God’s heart)
The Church is the custodian of the covenants of salvation and exaltation that God offers us through the ordinances of the holy priesthood. It is by keeping these covenants that we obtain the highest and deepest sense of belonging. President Russell M. Nelson recently wrote:
“Once you and I have made a covenant with God, our relationship with Him becomes much closer than before our covenant. Now we are bound together. Because of our covenant with God, He will never tire in His efforts to help us, and we will never exhaust His merciful patience with us. Each of us has a special place in God’s heart.
Possible Questions: In what ways have you felt closer to God after making a covenant through an ordinance? Which ordinance was it? Elder Christofferson says you have a special place in God’s heart. How do you feel about that statement?
Quote #5 (the quest)
We can feel joy as we pursue, individually and communally, “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Despite disappointments and setbacks along the way, it is a grand quest.
Thus, the doctrine of belonging comes down to this—each one of us can affirm: Jesus Christ died for me; He thought me worthy of His blood. He loves me and can make all the difference in my life. As I repent, His grace will transform me. I am one with Him in the gospel covenant; I belong in His Church and kingdom; and I belong in His cause to bring redemption to all of God’s children.
People are imperfect and don’t meet our expectations. The church is not about whether others do things right; it’s about us doing things right, pursuing a personal Savior, and serving others. Loving the Savior back and those three things alone will keep us occupied. They will also bring us joy.
Possible activity: Let’s pull out Elder Christofferson’s descriptions about the Savior and make a list:
- Jesus died for me
- He thought me worthy of His blood
- He loves me
- He can make a difference in my life
- His grace will transform me
- I am one with Him through covenants
- I belong in His church and kingdom
- I belong in His cause to bring redemption to all
Possible discussion questions: Why is it important to focus on the one real reason we go to Church? (the Savior) Which one of these descriptions of the Savior especially stands out for you today? Why is that? Elder Christofferson describes a personal Savior. In what ways has He felt personal for you? Why does Elder Christofferson call pursuing Christ a quest? What does pursuing Christ mean to you?
Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Christofferson’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.
This lesson is full of rich concepts and gentle introspection. We all need that from time to time, right? May you be gifted with lots of inspiration and insight as you study these words and prepare them for the benefit of your group. Thank you for visiting this website.
Put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you. If you would like tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.“