Engaging Come Follow Me: A Late Introduction (of Sorts)

So, through this first month I’ve posted my “reflections” on the Come Follow Me curriculum for each week (see here, here, here, and here), something I hope to continue throughout the year, although I make no promises I’ll do it every week.

I didn’t publish an introduction or explanation of what I would be doing for a couple of reasons. Well, one reason, mainly: I didn’t really know what I would be doing for my CFM study, and if this blog would play any sort of role in it at all. I mean sure, I had some plans and intentions, but given how new this was, I did not know how well any of those plans would work. So given last year’s fiasco—where I did announce I’d be doing more Old Testament blogging to coincide with Sunday School, and then didn’t even post on the Old Testament once all year—I figured it was best to wait.

If I am being honest, to some degree I still don’t know how well my plans will hold up long term, but given that a lot of people are feeling unsure about what to do or how to implement CFM within their individual and family study, I figure that offering an explanation of what my wife and I are doing—and where this blog fits in—is in order. Since I don’t have young children and have very little experience trying to teach at that level, this may not be too helpful for young families. Sorry about that. But if you are single or married without children, our routine might be something that could work for you.

First, we each read and study the CFM New Testament readings personally on a daily basis.

For me, this doesn’t just mean reading the assigned CFM chapters. I use a Study Bible, so I also read all the annotations and notes. This helps me better understand the context and background of the scriptures. I also read the CFM manuals (both the one for individuals and families, and the Sunday school one). I then choose no more than two or three (and probably more often, just one) of the topics, activities, or questions from the manual to study further.

From this point, in an effort to take responsibility for my own learning, I read/search a variety of resources from both Latter-day Saint and non-Latter-day Saint scholars on my chosen topic from the manual.

I am not the kind of person who can just read stuff and learn. I have to articulate and flesh out my thoughts on paper (or on screen, I suppose). So after studying a bit, as ideas begin to percolate, I write out my “reflections,” which I then end up posting on here on my blog. More on that in a minute.

Next, we discuss together what we learned weekly, usually on Monday night.

As a couple, we discuss what we learned from our personal daily study once a week. We aim to do this on Monday evenings, following the traditional Family Home Evening pattern (though, of course, others may choose to do things differently). We kind of take turns leading this discussion, but really no one is “in charge” of it and we simply aim to mutually learn from each other. We have no time limit, and just let the discussion go for however long or short we have time and interest for that week.

We also read the New Testament together daily.

While we only have a CFM couples study discussion once a week, we make it a point to read from the New Testament together daily. For this, we are not correlating our reading to the lesson schedule—since we are already reading those chapters each week on our own. Instead, we are simply reading New Testament books straight through, starting with the gospel of Mark (because most scholars believe it was written first). We’ll still end up re-reading the chapters we do individually, but it won’t at the same time.

Purpose and Background

By posting my reflections from my week’s study online, I am effectively inviting anyone and everyone to join me in my study each week. But I’d like to make it clear upfront, in case you don’t know, that I am not a New Testament scholar. While I do have a general background in the study of ancient scripture, the New Testament is certainly not my forte. I’ve given serious study of it very little attention, and I write my reflections after only engaging the topic for about a week. So I probably don’t even have a major handle on the topics I post about.

You may also notice that I am not citing any sources most of the time. While I do provide a few occasional citations, I am more concerned with getting my thoughts written out than rigorously documenting the arguments or ideas. These are reflections—and often really rough ones at that—not scholarly treaties. And though they are informed by scholarship, they are coming from a position of faith (in the Latter-day Saint tradition, specifically).

Now, I share all of this by way of “disclaimer.” I am a firm believer in the importance of making one’s background and theological (or ideological) commitments clear to one’s audience. These are things you should keep in mind as you read what I write. And if anything I say sounds interesting to you—you should probably make the effort to consult people smarter than I am rather than take my word for it.

But I also share this about myself in hopes to encourage all other non-scholars out there to realize you can dig deeper too. Granted, I am not just like the “average” member of the Church—as I mentioned, I do have some experience and background in the study of ancient scripture—but I am also not really that different, either. Like most Latter-day Saints, I lack expertise, and like most Latter-day Saints, I am not spending more than a week studying the chapters and topics of each lesson.

Obviously, the number of hours put in each week will make some difference (and I probably put in more hours than most—a luxury of being kid free and highly motivated), but honestly it’s more about the tools you use and maximizing the time you do have to study. And my point here is that I think anyone, even if they have limited time available for study, can better maximize their study time if they have a good set of tools, and know how to use them.

To that end, I also plan to post some “recommended reading” for the New Testament on this blog, probably in the next week or so. This will include my typical go-to resources for my study, so it’ll give you a general idea where most of my assertions/claims are coming from (but I make no promises to never read anything else), and offers a good starting point for anyone hoping to dig deeper themselves.

So, I hope to continue to post regularly on the CFM lessons. And I hope you’ll continue enjoy these posts, even though you should keep in mind I am not an expert, etc. But more importantly, I hope they’ll inspire you to dig into the New Testament a bit more yourself.