[The old version of this post was deleted by mistake.  Our apologies to all of the wonderful commenters who left wonderful comments on it.]

The following is an edited version of an email exchange.  Some people of faith and goodwill have heartfelt concerns about home church.  They deserve our respectful attention and sympathetic counsel.


I do want to somehow tap into your feeling of optimism about the home church. I’m praying to gain my own testimony of it, obviously. But…I just feel so discouraged about it currently.
We have lots of kids kids. We homeschool. We are constantly trying to build family culture, family strength. I know it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach their children the gospel! (That was part of our decision to homeschool. And I am grateful to have the time for it.) But this new assignment just feels so, so overwhelming. My kids are so tired of hearing me talk! It feels like they don’t listen to anything I say anymore! I don’t see how my talking to them for another hour every Sunday can possibly be beneficial. I’m sure there are other, creative things I could try. Like having them teach the lessons. Or doing “discussions” instead. But from a practical standpoint, all of that seems so out of reach and too hard—like it would just cause MORE resistance and MORE fighting. Yes, we love our kids and we sometimes have fun being together—but when I read Elder Cook saying “parents should make their homes a source of spiritual strength and increased faith—a place of joy and happiness”—I just feel so hopeless like, how can _I_ possibly control that? My kids fight with each other, they fight with me, my 14-year-old argues with every word I say and he HATES listening to me. He sighs and rolls his eyes and says “No one cares what you think” and yet—he listens to his teachers at church. He likes them! So much more than he likes me! The little ones are more pliable, I suppose, but if I teach a lesson on their level, all my older kids are bored. If I have a discussion with the 17-year-old, the littles are bored. I just…feel like I CAN’T do this one more thing! I can’t! And I loved church, even though I was out in the hall with a baby half the time. I just can’t see how this home church can be a blessing. It’s like another family home evening—and family home evening is already hard enough!! And it seems like Sundays are the days the kids fight most of all! Some of them will do indexing. Or we’ll play board games or go on drives. It’s fine. The Sabbath is becoming more of a delight. But it feels like this change makes it harder again, and requires so much more, and I knowwe just need to have faith that it will be okay, but I’m struggling!!
I was like you—when I heard the rumors of 2-hour church I was really hoping they weren’t true. But then when they made the announcement I just cried and cried. I didn’t feel a confirmation at all! And I had been fasting and hoping so much for a revelatory experience, and instead I just feel like I CAN’T do it!! Not that it’s not right—but I’M not up to it! And yet (according to Pres Eyring), it’s ALL on my shoulders!
How are you and your wife going to do it? How do you get your kids to even care what you think or say anymore? How does one effectively teach so many different ages? How does one make a meaningful experience for everyone when some of them are sullen and resistant? How will I find the inspiration to teach others when I don’t even have anyone teaching ME anymore? I just wish I knew how you managed to change your feelings. I want to feel better about it. But I’m just so scared.

I’ll have to think about this. Our situation is a little different than yours in that only a couple of our kids are home-schooled so they aren’t fed up with listening to us.

Honestly, it sounds like you are already doing a marvelous job of incorporating the gospel into your home and your family. You may simply not need to do anything extra for an hour each Sunday.
Certainly if doing an hour of home church every Sunday was more drudgery and rancor then spiritual and healing, I would not do it unless I had received a specific inspiration to do so.  Elder Cook said that this new program is supposed to be highly adapted to individual needs.  You have lots and lots of room to do whatever makes sense for your family. Maybe what makes sense is simply nothing.  Maybe it’s a rotating schedule where once a month you watch a conference talk, once a month you visit some older people in your ward or a nursing home, once a month you just take turns singing favorite hymns, etc.  Maybe you do some swap so you’re just teaching your littles and maybe the littles of some of your friends, while your older kids go to someone else’s house to have a kind of Youth discussion.  Maybe some of those family things we all want to do but really strain to fit into our schedule, like family council or Father’s blessings or family history, we use our extra Sunday hour to do that.  Maybe you and your husband take the spiritual part of your family home evening and just do it on Sunday, and you reserve Monday nights for having a good time.  Find one of these things that appeals to you guys and go for it.
The important thing for someone like to you to remember is that you’re doing a good job and the Lord is pleased with you.  It is not defeat for you to use your extra hour to do something that you already have been trying to do.  The Lord is pleased with you and he’s giving you some flexibility to use your time.

Thank you for such a thoughtful response. The thing that really struck me about what you said was the “this may be a gift from God” aspect. When we first started homeschooling, I really felt that part of it. People were telling me how busy I was going to be and how they could never do such a thing. But I felt like our lives were freer and better than ever! Because there were all these things I had had nagging feelings I should be doing. Reading to the kids, having informal gospel discussions, teaching them how to cook, shopping with them so they learned about money, etc. But all of those things felt SO hard when they were extra, on top of school and homework and long days. So I always felt like I was neglecting the most important things when the kids were in public school. And homeschooling, even though it came with a lot of extra effort, allowed those things to be just part of life! Not extra. Easy to include. And I loved that so much! I still do.

So, that’s a perspective shift for me—to think of this church change the same way. Not another thing to do—but another hour to fit in some of the things I want to do, but haven’t managed. I love that! And I think I can start to get a little excited, thinking about what that might mean. (I still don’t know what it will mean. But at least with this framework I can feel more positive about it!)
Comments welcome.

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