Sunday Church History Question #1

August 7, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 10:40 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

So I’ve decided to start a series of questions regarding church history that I can’t seem to get google to answer for me. I’ll be asking one a sunday until I get lazy and forget (maybe next Sunday.)

So Question #1- Per the 2010 Church Almanac, the church started home teaching in 1964, replacing ward teaching. What was the difference between home teaching and ward teaching. And since we (the church) always site the story of Joseph Smith’s home teacher being nervous, and Joseph coaching him, how does that all work out, since home teaching didn’t start until over 100 years later?

Bonus- When did visiting teaching start?


  1. The difference was the name.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 7, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

  2. For some of us of a certain age, it meant going out unannounced.You had a ward teaching lesson book with you and you could tear out and leave a summary of the lesson when you left. You didn’t inject yourself into your peoples’ lives which you were supposed to do when the Home Teaching program came along. That was a great sticking point initially. Today, I don’t see any difference except the name. And no leave-behind lesson summary.

    Comment by mac — August 8, 2010 @ 5:47 am

  3. The change was a part of the changes introduced by correlation, and was portrayed as something momentous, but so far as I can tell was really much more subtle than advertised. Apart from some procedural adjustments mentioned by mac, as I understand it teaching went from being the province of the teachers (an AP responsibility) to a MP responsibility. This was more subtle than it might have appeared on paper, because due to the practice of calling 14-year old boys as teachers, they had long been assisted by MP holders anyway. But the boots on the ground reality was formalized by this name change in the program.

    Or at least that’s how I see it.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — August 8, 2010 @ 7:27 am

  4. Thanks for the info! I guess that’s why we feel free to call Joseph Smith’s Teacher his home teacher.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 8, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

  5. Here is a master thesis on the history of LDS “home teaching” in the 19th century. John
    Calvin had a similar program, and some Presbyterians continue it under the name of home visitation, but the description is similar to the description of a teacher’s duties in
    D&C section 20. E.g.

    Comment by DavidH — August 8, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

  6. A history of home teaching timeline:

    A history given by one minister of home visitation in Christianity/Protestantism–the two stories at the beginning sound familiar.

    Comment by DavidH — August 8, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  7. DavidH! wow, thanks!

    Comment by Matt W. — August 8, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

  8. You hit the jackpot when DavidH rolled in.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  9. Will you send me to the story of Joseph’s home teacher being nervous – I don’t recall it.

    Comment by Hal — August 9, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

  10. I’m so glad you asked this question, Matt, and for the responses. It’s something I’ve been wondering about too.

    Comment by Clean Cut — August 9, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  11. Another master’s thesis on home teaching (also covers 20th century):

    Comment by Justin — August 10, 2010 @ 7:09 am

  12. Justin is like the bloggernacle Spirit… Always there but only revealing himself when he is truly needed.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 10, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  13. Hal, here you go.

    I’d never seen this until a few years ago, but apparently in other places, it was trotted out so often it became one of those “not again, everyone knows this” kinds of things.

    Comment by Ben S — August 18, 2010 @ 8:19 am

  14. The difference was Ward teaching required that you visit each family once a month. Home teaching requires that you watch over the family and fellowship them. Obviously the goal isn’t what is happening in most cases.

    Comment by Kurt — September 23, 2010 @ 7:20 pm