April 27, 1915
We advise and urge the inauguration of a “Home Evening” throughout the church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord…. “Home Evening” should be devoted to prayer, singing hymns, songs, instrumental music, scripture-reading, family topics and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel, and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligations of children to parents, the home, the Church, society and the nation. For the smaller children appropriate recitations, songs, stories and games may be introduced. Light refreshments of such a nature as may be largely prepared in the home might be served.
If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them.
The First Presidency
FHE has promised blessings of love, obedience, faith, and power over sin. I want these in my home, and I hope you would as well. How can we receive these blessings? Hold FHE. It certainly isn’t easy. Here are 10 tips to improve your FHE experience.
1. Start Today.
Wherever you’re at decide today to make your FHE better starting today. If you are not holding FHE, start just having a family time, slowly work your way up to lessons, and spiritual activities. Always keep in mind the reason we hold FHE.
Family home evenings should be scheduled once a week as a time for discussions of gospel principles, recreation, work projects, skits, songs around the piano, games, special refreshments, and family prayers. Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty. (“Salvation; A Family Affair,” Ensign, July 1992, p. 4)
~President Ezra Taft Benson
2. Keep it simple and spiritual.
Let’s be honest. We have all been in that meeting, or class that feels like it is dragging on forever… A good rule of thumb is the +1 rule, the age of the child +1. For example, a 5-year-old would have a 6-minute attention span. So gauge the length of the entire FHE to accommodate. Maybe keeping it short and sweet is the best idea for younger children. Teaching a 30-minute lecture, I mean lesson… to your 5, 9 and 12-year-old will not help them to grasp the Gospel, but merely to dislike FHE.
3. Make FHE a family habit as early as you can.
If you start holding FHE as a family when your children are young, it becomes part of their daily routine. You can avoid many of the potential problems with FHE by making it a habit as early as possible. Many of my favorite FHE’s I can remember were with my nieces and nephews.
“As you faithfully plan and hold quality family home evenings, you will gain strength to withstand the temptations of the world and will receive many blessings which will help qualify you to enjoy your families through eternity in the Celestial Kingdom.”
~President Spencer W. Kimball
4. Invite the missionaries to FHE.
Invite the missionaries to come for FHE, ask them to teach a lesson about missionary work, and how you can be better member missionaries. Or invite them to use your home to hold a lesson for a non-member or needy families. Either invite a friend or tell them they can bring a recent convert or an investigator to teach them how to hold FHE.
Some of my most enjoyable experiences on my mission happened when a member invited us over for FHE. It made our day because we saw members living the Gospel and we could feel their love. It felt like we had a family again.
One such family was the Bishop’s family in my last ward. Your last transfer is always hard. You know you’re going to be leaving all those you’ve grown to love and thoughts of home get stronger and stronger. If you’re busy it is a lot easier to stay focused. I was serving in Cornish, Maine during the winter and the sunset would happen at around 4PM every day… It was extremely hard to stay busy during the “dark hours.” And, we had P-Day every Monday until 6PM. We often had no other option but to tract. Most members did not invite us because they thought “FHE is for families only” or they lived too far away.
When our Bishop and his wife found out, they changed that. They said come to our house for dinner, and teach us a lesson for FHE. We started coming over for FHE every week. It became a saving grace the final month of my mission. Every Monday night we would hold FHE with the Bishop, we would discuss missionary work, both ours, and theirs. And, they told us to invite those we taught to come over as well. This family understood the power of FHE in sharing and living the Gospel. To this day, I love their family, and I still remember their little son, if I recall correct he was only three years old at the time. He would ALWAYS want to say the prayer, and he would always say. “Please bless the missionaries, Elder Goff and Elder Millis.” It melted my heart to know that little kids prayed for us.
5. Find the balance, Activities and lessons, and shake things up!
Depending on the age of your kids your FHE will either be focused on the activity or on the lesson. But always include both. FHE is about bonding as a family, and learning the Gospel. So make sure you always include both of these, activities feed the mind, lessons feed the soul.
Finding the right balance is key. I’ve been to far too many YSA “FHE’s” that the Gospel was not even brought up in a token spiritual thought. But when I lived in North Dakota, some of the YSA FHE’s we had were super powerful and thought to provoke. When FHE is planned, and held it builds the unity in a family. Also, shake things up! Go hold FHE at the park, or go take a hike and hold FHE in the mountains, variety is the spice of life!
You can even watch an LDS-themed film, make it a movie night once a month. Meet The Mormons, Johnny Lingo, the other side of Heaven, On The Lords Errand, Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration are just a few!
“Regular participation in family home evening will develop increased, personal worth, family unity, love for our fellowmen, and trust in our Father in heaven. It is our promise that great blessings will come to all who conscientiously plan and hold weekly family home evenings.”
~President Spencer W. Kimball