General Conference is here yet again! I don’t get as many chances as I would like to ponder and reflect on my life. I always look forward to the first weekends of April and October, and this weekend is no different. If you’re like me, however, it can be difficult to get the most out of General Conference. I would like to offer 5 ways to get the most out of conference. (Note: for those who don’t know how to tune in to General Conference — for free– go here for more information)
1. Make General Conference A Priority
There are a million other things that you could do this weekend. This weekend may be the first real spring weather we’ve had where I live. However, if you really want to get the most out of General Conference, you’re going to need to make it a priority.
We could all do with a little uplifting, and investing in your self in worth it. Commit yourself to making time and space in your life for General Conference.
2. Spiritually Prepare Yourself to Learn
We all have our own individual ways of inviting inspiration into our lives. Sometimes we default into simply saying a half-hearted prayer to invite the Spirit to teach us. Unfortunately, that’s not how the Spirit works, and God won’t speak to us if we don’t do the work first.
Find the way that works best for you, whether its prayer, meditation, scripture study, exercise, or simply taking a long walk. Take time to commune with God first. You’ll be amazed at how much He teaches you after you humble yourself before him.
3. Tune In With Technology
Scheduling out two full days can be tricky. Luckily, there are a bunch of awesome ways to get the most out of General Conference. Here are a couple of resources:
The Mormon Channel App – Available on iOS and Android, this is an app that allows you to listen live to the Church’s radio stations. As luck would have it, they broadcast live sessions of General Conference! At the very least, you can listen to a session with headphones while you’re doing yard work or cleaning your office.
LDS.org – I’m sure most people know about this. The Church’s website has live feeds to all of the sessions. Additionally, video archives are posted almost immediately after they air, with transcripts being posted within a few days.
Social Media – My personal favourite way to get good insights out of General Conference is to follow the #ldsconf hashtag on Twitter. Litterally thousands of people join in on the conversation every session to enjoy share thoughts from the speakers. Wherever you enjoy talking about stuff, I’m sure there will be a conversation.
4. Keep Personal Notes, and Review Them Later
You’re not going to learn anything if you just sit there and let it wash over you like a beached whale on the sand. There is truly something special about writing your thoughts, and reviewing them later. Make sure to write down anything that you feel is important or impactful.
If you’re listening while multitasking, keep a small notepad handy or use a notes app on your phone. Even a few notes from an entire session will be more beneficial to you than nothing at all.
5. Claim Your Spiritual Journey As Your Own
In a worldwide Church with millions of members, it is only a matter of time until something that is said in General Conference rubs you the wrong way. It seems like the Internet has made these conflicts more public than in previous years. However, before you go doubting yourself or your faith, consider the following few quotes:
“As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules… Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord.” – Elder Dallin H. Oaks, CES Fireside, May 1, 2005
It is not the role of the Church to define every aspect of your world view. In fact, I have noticed that there are many aspects of life that the Church doesn’t talk about at all. This is a wonderful thing, and it provides us with the opportuneity to develop a personal relationship with God. We don’t need to be told everything that we should believe.
When Joseph Smith caught wind of a member being criticized for believing things that were considered to be unorthodox, he said the following:
“It looks too much like the Methodists, and not like the Latter-Day Saints. Methodists have a creed which a man must or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled.”
Nobody but you can lay claim to your personal relationship with God. Claim your religion as your own. Don’t approach General Conference as a cookie-cutter template for your life. Instead, approach it as a source of inspiration, ideas, and guidance that you can use to spark growth in your own relationship with the Saviour.
Enjoy General Conference weekend everyone!
Now for the question: What do you do to get the most out of General Conference?