Times, They Are A Changin’

A couple months ago, I wrote a quick post about Visiting Teaching and my relationship to it.  In it, I emphasized that I didn’t feel like a forced, monthly visit was spiritually or socially useful to me, though it might be for other people.  I also mentioned how my favorite VTs in the past didn’t visit me monthly, but would formally drop by every 3-6 months and otherwise just treat me as a friend around town.

I lamented how the VT/HT program, can get too caught up in stats and “just getting it in each month” rather than really thinking about what people individually need, want, or can adequately do.

The response I got was good–some people liked the idea of making VT/HT more flexible and some people thought that the monthly meeting, though it may not be the most casual, was its own form of showing love through showing consistency. Thanks for all your comments.

I bring it all up again because I wanted to share something interesting with anyone who was intrigued by that post a while back:

Last week, my ward rolled out a “New VT/HT Plan for 2011.”

Essentially, the plan is that active members will have VT and HTs, but they will not need to be visited monthly.  VTs and HTs can visit them as often as they see a need.  For example, if a woman is home bound with small children, it might be nice to have a visit every month…or it might not…it’s up to the Teachers and Teachees “to decide openly, kindly, and with honesty.”  I also remember hearing something along the lines of, “You can say hi at church, give them a call every couple months, but there will no longer be any pressure to have these active families formally visited monthly.”  Instead, the RS presidency and Elders Quorum presidency encouraged people to try and contact less active members about once a month “in whatever way feels best for that family, not necessarily with a formal visit and lesson.”


Hooray!  (well, that’s what I thought anyway)  To me this will usher in a more personal, friendly, less stressful VT/HT experience for everyone.  Of course, I know that not everyone is comfortable with this, but maybe mixing things up a little bit will get everyone to see VT/HT in a slightly different light now.

Anyway, has anyone else had other big, philosophically important changes in their ward’s VT/HT programs?


  1. They did that in my ward about 10 years ago. I thought it was awesome. But so many of the sisters complained about it (???) that they changed it back. I wondered if maybe people just had a hard time with because “that’s not how it’s done.”

  2. I got in trouble last Sunday because I told our HTers they could come over at a time when my wife ended up being home. (Usually she’s gone to visit her parents on Sunday afternoons when they come.) She really let me have it. She’s not a social person and she hates the useless chit chat and “lesson” just to put a notch in someone’s belt. For some reason they always assign dutiful HTers to us; I wish they’d give us the slackers once in a while!

  3. I think this sounds like a great idea! I find it an imposition at times to have to host HT/VT. I often opt for a foyer visit so that they can get their number in without me having to give up time that I don’t have. I wrote about my thoughts on home teachers a few weeks ago, and I took some heat for it, too.

  4. We just got a printout from the new handbook about visiting teaching with the instruction to read it over because it’s changed. Evidently either I wasn’t very familiar with the old handbook, or the changes were pretty subtle, because it looked the same to me.

    From what I understand VTing has officially been monthly-contact quarterly-visit for some time now, but every ward I’ve ever lived in has insisted on monthly visits. I’m not actually opposed to that–I find I get to know people a lot better if I see them more than four times a year.

    In general, I can’t figure out what to think of VTing/HTing. Sometimes they’re great. Sometimes they’re terrible.

    For a long time our stake did VTing groups, in which three or four people all got together and essentially VTed one another. Logistically, that was fantastic–one meeting a month, and that was it. I was sad when groups were vetoed. I can definitely see the advantages–and often, the necessity–of having people be responsible for one another, but it’s so much harder to coordinate four different visits with both the person we visit and a companion _and_ figure out child care, and then of course find a time for one’s own VTers to visit. I’ve become fond of many of the women who visit me and whom I visit, but it’s still a lot of coordinating.

    We’ve had excellent home teachers in several different wards ever since my husband declared his atheism and went inactive. Particularly since that’s the only real contact I have with priesthood holders if I or my kids need a blessing, I’m grateful.

    On the other hand, I’ve had a couple of disastrous VTing relationships in the last several years. Sometimes the whole thing just fails spectacularly. Although I hate to bother a surely harried RS president and ask to be switched–or insist on bailing from the whole program for a while–I’ve decided sometimes it’s necessary for my mental health.

  5. All I know is that being less active got me on the Bishop’s HT list and he never misses the monthly visit. Why is it that only active members don’t need the monthly?

  6. So much cynicism in some responses (dressed in the robes of enlightened experience). As one who tries to take a genuine interest in the families I visit by regularly visiting them, I have to confess I would find visiting some of you to be intimidating.
    Without discounting anyone’s negative experiences–I am not oblivious to the reality or regularity of them, at least in a generic sense–I would ask all of us: Have our negative experiences choked off the possibility of positive ones before we’ve given them a chance to occur? Often it takes time and effort to establish good HT/VT relationships. Do our own assumptions about VT/HT, especially the negative ones, bias us towards more negative experiences? If our VTers/HTers came over and they departed from the script of “useless chit chat” as Kevin termed it, and actually shared something from their hearts, would we be sensitive enough to see it?

  7. I have generally enjoyed HT visiting and visits as long as they were not too long. We lived in one ward that did VT groups and my wife hated it. I don’t know why it had to be all or nothing. They could have groups for those who wanted it and individual visits for those who preferred that.

  8. cyclingred, from what I understand VTing groups have been banned by the General RS Presidency, so now it’s individual visits for everyone….

  9. Why is it we think only the inactives need visits and love. I am an acitve member attending church weekly. I have youth that attend seminary, dances, ym/yw, etc. I have never been visited in my home or received a phone call from any of my church leaders. I live over 30 miles from the chapel and make the round trip at least twice a week. It’s so disheartening that no one will take the time to visit with me and my family. It has gotten to the point I have considered looking at local non-LDS churches to fill my need of local socialization. Why are the active members so often looked upon as not having needs?

  10. LDSmom: I can understand your frustration. I can’t really speak to other ward’s experiences, but I did like how in my own the idea was offered that there are, in fact, active members who really need and want monthly visits and it’s up to you and your VTs/HTs to be honest about those needs. But, as teachees, we also need to be sensitive to the time commitments of those who come to teach us as well.

    I liked how our leadership invited us, essentially, to just be more open about our preferences and our real abilities rather than feeling put upon, left out, or ashamed and not feeling like those issues could be voiced acceptably.

  11. I just noticed I’m not the first one using the moniker “observer” on LDS-related blogs. I know, I know, it’s hardly original.

    In the future I may well just use my name.

    I hope I didn’t throw anyone for a loop. (Though I doubt it given how rarely I post.)

  12. I liked how our leadership invited us, essentially, to just be more open about our preferences and our real abilities rather than feeling put upon, left out, or ashamed and not feeling like those issues could be voiced acceptably.

    I haven’t seen any changes like this in my neck of the woods, Apame, but I agree that it’s encouraging. Allowing programs to be customized to the needs of people is always a wonderful thing! My impression is like yours (as I understand it) that when we’re focused on checking a box because that’s what we’re pressured to do, there’s less opportunity for it to work well.

    I’ve had good and bad experiences with HT. I think I’ve disliked it the most when visiting people who clearly didn’t want to be visited but who I was too afraid to ask if they’d rather I just come less often. I’m sorry to say I’ve bought into the “They don’t know what they need. If they don’t want to be visited, then they need to be visited even more.” approach too much at times.

  13. All I can say is the new program might work but if I, assuming that I’m active, suddenly get at least monthly visits! CRAP!


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