Decades ago, most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had just a handful of resources for preparing sacrament meeting talks: the scriptures, personal experiences and maybe a pile of old Ensign magazines.
While these resources were more than sufficient, more online tools and databases bring thousands of ideas and quotes to Church members’ fingertips. The only problem is finding them. Here are seven excellent resources that are available to anyone with an Internet connection and uplifting to anyone who learns from them.
The standard works —the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price — are still the primary curriculum for gospel living. The scriptures are available online and easily searchable in that format.
Once you find scriptures to share, though, you can take it one step further. Study to understand the context of the scripture you’re using and seek for new meaning you can share with the congregation. Read what others have gleaned from the scriptures using other resources listed below. Take the opportunity to really study the scriptures and find new meaning in them.
2. LDS Scripture Citation Index
Developed by BYU professor Steve Liddle, “LDS Scripture Citation Index” is a mobile app and website that links scripture references to relevant quotes from general conference addresses (from 1942 to present), “Journal of Discourses” speeches (from 1839 and 1886), and “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
This tool can help deepen scripture study and expand understanding in sacrament meeting talks. If a youth speaker wants to quote Moses 1:39, for example, she can use LDS Scripture Citation Index to find more than 300 quotes from prophets that cite that verse.
3. General Conference Archive
General Conference addresses from 1971 to today are archived on LDS.org. They are searchable by conference, topic and speaker.
4. Seminary and Institute Manuals
The Church is in the process of updating Seminary manuals to meet the needs of a growing Church and today’s youth. Sacrament meeting talks can be enhanced by using these manuals to explore topics, gain understanding of scriptural passages and gain historical context. These manuals are available from distribution centers or as both PDF and expanded HTML versions online.
5. Life experiences
Sacrament meeting speakers who draw on their own personal experiences and express heartfelt testimony are more effective teachers and typically gain more from their speaking experience than those who rely only on the words of others. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught, “Those who have a testimony of the restored gospel also have a duty to share it.”
6. Church history
Many stories from Church history are instructive but can be difficult to track down. Start by checking the “Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual.” You might also search LDS.org for your topic, paying special attention to stories from Church magazines. Non-scriptural books like “History of Joseph Smith by His Mother” and biographies of Church presidents are also great resources.
7. Gospel Topics pages
Beginning in 2013, the Church began producing straightforward, in-depth essays on a number of topics, including many that might be covered in sacrament meeting. These essays are available on LDS.org under “Teachings” and provide helpful insights and scriptural cross-references for further study.