What is the Purpose of Family Home Evening?
By: Deb Cook
“Family Home Evening is a time to strengthen family ties. We do this by learning the gospel together, by listening to each other’s feelings, thoughts and ideas and by enjoying activities together” (Purpose of Family Home Evening, 2005) Home can be a refuge from the world. People try to make their homes a safe haven of love and peace for their families. Sometimes it can be hard to create that loving and peaceful home. In our time, we are blessed with a wonderful prophet and leaders who have given us guidance and direction about the wonderful blessings of Family Home Evening.
Let's start from the beginning, Family Home Evening started with Adam and Eve and has continued throughout generations. Prophets and church leaders have counseled parents and adults to teach their children and loved ones to love Heavenly Father and follow him. This is exactly what Family Home Evening is at its core. Parents teaching family members to love the Lord their God. Purposefully creating an environment where family members can cultivate and grow their own testimonies of the gospel of Christ. Family Home Evening is a time set aside each week where we can enjoy being together as friends and family. Through fun and simple activities, such as service, games, and outings, families and friends can build their relationships and connections with one another.
Family Home Evening is for the purpose of teaching gospel principles and values. It also gives your family an opportunity to enjoy different activities together. “Well planned family home evenings can be a source of long-lasting joy and influence. These evenings are times for group activity, for organizing, for the expressions of love, for the bearing of testimony, for learning gospel principles, for family fun and recreation and of all things, for family unity and solidarity.” (Deseret News, 2019)
“Family Home Evening shows children that family matters most” (Deseret News, 2019) We need the strength that comes from Family Home Evening, to help us fight the evil influences of the world. (Faust, 2003) When we show our family that they come first by making them a priority first thing in the week, they quickly realize what we value most. Showing them that spending time with them is important to us, makes them feel loved, cared about and secure in their family relationships.
Family Home Evening can be for anyone and everyone. This includes married couples, mothers and fathers who have children, single parents, adults in YSA wards and those who are alone or who are living with others. All can be blessed when they participate in Family Home Evening. Leaders of the church have taught that those who follow this counsel and do their best to hold Family Home Evening, have been promised blessings. This includes more faith in the youth, a stronger ability to resist temptation, more peace, love and especially more harmony within the home. Elder Richard G. Scott said “Family Home Evening is a weekly tool to strengthen your family and cultivate peace. Family Home Evening is a precious time to bear testimony in a safe environment; to learn teaching, planning and organizational skills; to strengthen family bonds; to develop family traditions; to talk to each other; and more importantly, to have a marvelous time together!” (Scott, 2014)
Giving your children the opportunity to plan, and teach. Family Home Evening allows them the opportunity to learn how to teach the gospel. These same teaching principles can be used in so many situations: at school, in their work lives, and in their future in general. Talking about things of a spiritual nature also gives them confidence in what they believe. They have opportunities to practice talking about gospel principles so when missionary opportunities arrive, they are ready to share what they know. Our children ultimately learn from Family Home Evening in every way shape and form. Whether we lead and teach, or allow them to plan, prepare, and execute, growth is inevitable for anyone and everyone involved.
The home is the best and most important place to teach the gospel. Nothing else within the church can replace the family and the home. The prophets continue to council and urge families and church members to make Family Home Evening a priority each week. They have promised many times that our commitment to the Family Home Evening program will help protect our families against the evils that are ever more present in our time. It will bring us so much more joy today and for the rest of our lives.
Every member has the opportunity to have and participate in Family Home Evening no matter what stage of life they are in. Make it a special and sacred time. If you are married, have Family Home Evening with your spouse, and as you have children, include them. Know that it is ok to change the program to fit the needs and interests of you and your family. Allow your children and others who are with you to participate. As your life moves forward and your children grow older and those of your family move away, continue to try and hold Family Home Evening together. If there is no Family Home Evening program near you, reach out to ward members around you and create a Family Home Evening group. Or even consider the possibility of inviting non member friends to join you. You will be surprised how many people have a desire to connect spiritually with others. We also have so many tools these days we can use to connect with family online. You may want to create a zoom link or designate a time to FaceTime others for a long distance Family Home Evening. Get Creative! But most of all, enjoy spending time with those you love and care for.
President Thomas S Monson said “We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program. It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.” (Monson, 2005)