The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced new details about the upcoming Children and Youth Program, which will begin in January.
The announcements are being made through a broadcast video featuring M. Russel Ballard, acting president of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other general authorities of the church. Details were also released on http://childrenandyouth.churchofjesuschrist.org.
The new program will be more flexible overall, allowing children and youth to set personalized goals, and allowing parents and leaders to customize their efforts in teaching lessons, planning activities and helping children and youth grow in general.
“This is going to be the most exciting youth program and child program that we’ve ever had in the history of the church,” Ballard said in the broadcast.
The church describes the new approach as “intended to help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills, serve others, and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.
The new initiative focuses on three different categories: gospel learning, activities and service, and personal development.
Among the changes are continuing the church’s recent focus on a home-centered church. The “Come Follow Me” program newly implemented this year for home and church use will further integrate children and teens starting in 2020.
This includes better aligning the new program between family study, church lessons and classes for children and youth, and the church’s seminary program, in which teenagers in ninth to 12th grade participate in an additional class to their school classes.
Activities and service
As announced in May 2018, the church will no longer implement or affiliate with the Boy Scouts of America program starting with the new year, instead aligning with more church-specific activities and service opportunities.
According to the broadcast, the new program will continue the church’s tradition of frequent activities involving children and teens gathering for fun, service, learning, spiritual experiences and adventure. Wards are encouraged to hold these activities for young women and young men weekly if possible, as has been done in the past in weekly weekday gatherings.
The current activity programs for children under the age of 11 — Cub Scouts for boys and Activity Days for girls — will be replaced by bimonthly Primary Activities, which will still be held separately for boys and girls.
A church website will launch in November listing ideas for activities for Primary Activities, youth activities and family activities.
Church leaders in the broadcast also said the church will continue young men and young women camps, joint youth conferences and trek conferences, but those activities will alternate with the new For the Strength of Youth conference, or FSY conference, which was recently announced as modeled after the Especially for Youth conference, or EFY conference, which will no longer be implemented.
FSY, involving a large gathering of teens participating in a weeklong program spiritual learning and fun activities, has already been taking place worldwide, and the conference will be expanded to the U.S. and Canada in 2020. As opposed to EFY, which costed hundreds of dollars and was only held in a small number of locations across the country, FSY will give every teen in the church, ages 14 to 18, the opportunity to attend.
According to the broadcast, FSY will take place every other year.
The church currently implements programs for children and teens with specific requirements regarding personal growth: “Faith in God” for children ages 3 to 12, “Personal Progress” for young women ages 12 to 18, and “Duty to God” for young men ages 12 to 18. The new youth initiative will discontinue these programs starting in 2020.
Specific details on what will replace these three programs have not yet been released, but the church says the initiative will do away with prescribing a list of the same requirements to each child and teen, instead focusing on personalized opportunities for growth in all areas of their lives.
“The significant difference from the past programs to now is that you will have an opportunity through personal revelation to choose what you need to do in your life to better follow the savior and how you can progress and get better in the things that are important to you,” said Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, in the broadcast.
The broadcast emphasized the importance of children and teen’s agency and ability to receive personal revelation for themselves.
This new personal development program will include family, friends and leaders’ help and encouragement.
A Face-to-Face event with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be held Nov. 17 to share additional details of the initiative.