The Lord does not expect children to respond to critics of the Church as He called Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to do. But you can help the children understand that their simple testimony of the truth can have a powerful effect on others.
Some people were printing lies about the Church in a newspaper
and were causing “unfriendly feelings” towards the the church.
What did He say they would be given to help them?
Jesus told Joseph Smith
and Sidney Rigdon
to go on a mission to other towns and tell people the truth about the Church.
Joseph and Sidney obeyed Jesus. They left their homes and went to many towns. They talked in church meetings and taught people in their homes.
Joseph and Sidney told people about God’s commandments. They testified of Jesus Christ and told the people to repent
. When Joseph and Sidney finished their missions, they went home to their families.
How can we be like Joseph and Sidney?
A bishop can have a strong positive influence in the life of a young person. What can you do to help the children see the bishop as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ?
- Print out as many balloons as you think you will use. I like to use 8-10.
- Print out enough blank cards on card stock to write your bishops name.
- Print “Bishop” for Don’t pop the balloons on card stock so the children can not see through the paper.
Don’t Pop the Balloons
Don’t Pop the Balloons is like hangman just not as morbid. Use the”Bishop” and with the blank cards write your Bishops name
. Turn the letters face down on the chalkboard.
Ask the children to take turns guessing a letter of the alphabet. When a letter in thank you is guessed, turn it over. If the letter is not in the word, “Pop” a balloon but taking it away. The object of the game is to guess the phrase before the balloons are all gone. I like to write the letter they guessed on the balloon just to remember. Print out as many balloons as you would like. I like to use between 8-10.
After they have solved it ask…
What are some ways our bishop [branch president] helps us live the gospel?
What characteristics do you admire in our bishop? How is the bishop a good example for you? How can you be a good example to others?
What important spiritual gift is a bishop given? Have a child read D&C 46:27–29 for the answer. The gift of discernment the bishop is given inspiration to know important things about his ward members, such as who might be in need of spiritual help or whom to call to a position.
Scriptural and Historical Accounts
Responsibilities of a Bishop
In early 1831, almost a year after the Church was organized, many people were joining the Church and gathering in Ohio, as the Lord had commanded. As the Church grew, Joseph Smith
needed additional leaders to help with the work of the Church. The Church was facing many financial (money-related) challenges. Many of the Saints who gathered to Kirtland were poor
. They had no land or money and little food, clothing, or other things that were necessary for them to live. The Church also needed money to build a temple and to publish written materials such as revelations and missionary pamphlets. The Prophet himself did not have a home or a way to provide for his family, and other Church leaders who were serving in the Church full-time also needed help in supporting their families.
The Prophet asked the Lord what should be done to provide for all of these needs. In February 1831 the Prophet received a revelation calling Edward Partridge
, who had only been a member of the Church for two months, to serve as the first bishop of the Church. The bishop’s first responsibility was to help the Prophet provide for the physical and financial needs of the members of the Church. Joseph Smith received other revelations in the next few months that helped Bishop Partridge know what else he was to do as bishop.
When Church members began to gather in Missouri at the end of 1831, Bishop Partridge was called by the Prophet to move to Missouri and be the bishop there
. Newel K. Whitney
was called to be the bishop for the Saints who remained in Ohio.
To emphasize that bishops are called by God, tell the following story about Bishop Newel K. Whitney, the second bishop of the Church:
When Newel K. Whitney was called to be a bishop
, he did not feel that he would be able to be a good bishop. He was friends with the Prophet Joseph Smith and said to him, “I cannot see a bishop in myself, brother Joseph; but if you say it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll try.” “You need not take my word alone,” answered Joseph. “Go and ask Father for yourself.”
Newel Whitney decided to do as the Prophet had advised. Before he went to bed, he prayed to know if he should accept the call as bishop. His humble prayer was answered. He heard a voice from heaven say, “Thy strength is in me.” These simple words told Brother Whitney what he wanted to know. He went to the Prophet and told him that he was willing to accept the calling of bishop. This experience and others helped Newel Whitney know that the Lord is in charge of the Church. (See B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:271.)
As the Church continued to grow, other bishops were called to lead the members. When Bishop Whitney was called, Bishop Partridge became known as the First, or Presiding, Bishop of the Church. He had responsibility over all the other bishops.
As part of his calling as the prophet, Joseph Smith was commanded by the Lord to make inspired revisions to the Bible. These revisions, which the Lord called a “translation” (Doctrine and Covenants 90:13), restored important truths that had been lost or removed from the Bible over the centuries.
Have the children stand in a line. Whisper the two- or three-sentence message (A brother and sister were skipping down the street. The brother chased after a butterfly and fell down. His sister helped him up and they ran home.) into the ear of the first child in line. Have each child in turn whisper the message to the next child. Instruct each child to say the message only once. Continue until the message reaches the last child in line. Ask the last child to repeat the message aloud. Compare the message the last child received with the original message to see how the message changed.
How had the message changed by the time it reached the end of the line? What was left out? What was added?
Why do you think the message changed as it passed from person to person?
Just as the message changed as it was passed from person to person, over many years some of the scriptures in the Bible had been changed as people translated the Bible and made copies of it by hand. Mistakes were made: some incorrect teachings had been added to the Bible, and some important teachings had been left out. The Lord commanded Joseph Smith to prepare a translation of the Bible that would restore the correct teachings.
When Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon returned from a short mission near Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord wanted them to resume work on an important project. Invite the children to read Doctrine and Covenants 73:3 to find out what that project was. To help the children understand what the Lord wanted Joseph and Sidney to translate, read with them parts of the Bible Dictionary entry “Joseph Smith Translation (JST).”
In 1830 Joseph Smith began working on a correct translation of the Bible. Sidney Rigdon was his scribe. In preparing this translation of the Bible, Joseph was not translating from an ancient language, as he did with the Book of Mormon, but was restoring the Bible to its original meaning. As Joseph studied and pondered the Bible, he was inspired through the power of the Holy Ghost
to correct errors in it.
As Joseph studied the scriptures, his understanding of the gospel grew.
As Joseph Smith worked on his inspired translation of the Bible, his knowledge of the gospel grew, and he was blessed by the Holy Ghost. Many revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants are answers to questions about statements in the Bible that Joseph did not understand.
While we do not use the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible as a separate book of scripture, parts of it are included in other Latter-day Saint scriptures. Help the children locate the places in the scriptures where portions of the Joseph Smith Translation are found: Joseph Smith—Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price, the JST footnotes throughout the Bible, and the section following the Bible Dictionary.
Compare some verses of the Joseph Smith Translation with the original verses in the Bible.
Display the Bible (King James Version)
verse. Have the children look up the Joseph Smith Translation and fill in the Bible verse with the correct translation
1 Samuel 16:14
John 1:18 (JST, John 1:19)
Invite the children to choose something they will do because of what they learned today, such as thanking the bishop for his service or preparing to defend their beliefs by learning the Articles of Faith.
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