I was recently listening to the excellent LeadingLDS podcast. Kurt (contributes here), interviewed the mysterious person known only as @ldseqpres on Twitter.

@ldseqpres is known for his usually humorous, sometimes snarky, tweets. But he’s a real-life Elder’s Quorum President, with all the problems and issues that come with that calling. And he had some great insights on how to handle some of those problems.

One that really stood out to me was a priority-based approach to home teaching. And he got the idea for it, straight from the handbook! Handbook 2: 7.4.2 states:

Quorum and group leaders assign the most effective home teachers to members who need them most. When assigning home teachers, leaders give highest priority to new members, less-active members who may be the most receptive, and others who have the greatest need for home teachers, such as single parents, widows, and widowers.

7.4.3 adds:

In some locations, visiting every home each month may not be possible for a time because of insufficient numbers of active priesthood holders or other challenges. In these circumstances, leaders give priority to visiting new members, less-active members who are most likely to respond to invitations to return to Church activity, and members with serious needs.

@ldseqpres’ solution was to create a spreadsheet with everyone that their Elder’s Quorum was responsible to teach. Next they added columns for each of the items that the Handbook says are priorities:

  • new members
  • less-active members (likely to respond)
  • members with serious needs
  • single parents
  • widows/widowers

They would then go through the list, and place an “X” in any the columns that apply to each person/family. Then they setup a 6th column that would add the number of X’s in the previous columns, and produce a numerical total. For example, a less-active widow with children at home would get a 3, or a 4, if there were serious needs.

Once that was done, they could sort the list by the 6th column. That put the people with the greatest need need (according to the handbook) at the top. They could then look at how many active companionships they could form, and assign them to those with the most need.

There’s some brilliance in this approach. Obviously you should still ask for, and follow, the Spirit in creating home teaching assignments. But this gives an excellent baseline or standard to start from. It also allows a ward or quorum to make sure that those who need it most, actually get home taught. It also means you can potentially cut down on the number of families assigned to each companionship, so you don’t overwhelm them, with too much to do.

The podcast episode has many great life-hacking tips for leadership positions throughout the church. Make sure and listen to the whole episode. Image from LDS.org.