Well, my sources came through.  I got a chance to not only see the new Duty to God book over the weekend, but to flip through it and do a little bit of reading as well.   My predictions were close, but the book is not what I expected it to be.

My sources tell me that many of the Stake Presidencies/Stake Young Men’s presidencies have copies of the book, and they are planning an official roll-out in August.  Why they don’t start getting the books out to the parents to drum up interest is a bit confusing to me, but that’s what they’ve decided to do.  And let me tell you.  THE BOOK LOOKS GREAT!  I’ve got pictures at the end of the post.

I think the biggest thing that surprised me was how many pages were included with the book.  There was over 100 pages in a small spiral-bound booklet about 4” by 6”, perfect for carrying in a scripture case.  The paper looks to be of good quality, meaning this is something the boys are supposed to keep with them throughout all 6 years they are in the youth program.

It’s actually a simple layout for the book, and an even simpler program (which is good).  There is a very strong focus on the basics of teenage life (which I go into detail about below), and I think the whole program will be much more effective by having a few points of emphasis rather than having a number of small tasks to complete under the old program.

The book is organized into a section for the Deacons, Teachers, and Priests, and within each of those sections, there are different points of emphasis.  From the book:

“You will learn principles and make plans in the following areas:

  • Spiritual Strength.  Applying what you learn in this section will help you gain the spiritual strength you need to saty on the path of righteousness.  You will develop habits of regular prayer and scripture study, which includes studying the words of the living prophets.  You will learn and teach the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You will also learn and apply principles that will help you be a worthy priesthook holder.
  • Priesthood Duties.  Applying what you learn in this section will help you draw close to the Savior as you exercise His priesthood.  Your love for others will grow as you represent the Savior in serving them.  You will learn how to administer priesthood ordinances, serve others, and invite all to come to Christ.
  • For the Strength of Youth.  In this section you will learn about and apply some of the standards from For the Strength of Youth, including the sections titled “Physical Health,” “Education,” and “Friends.”  Applying these standards will make you more effective in your services to the Lord and better prepared for your future.”

What is my opinion on the new program?  I like it.  To me, the focus is on preparing the young men to be leaders in the church.  Not just administrative leaders (like Bishops, Presidents of Quorums, Stake Presidents, etc), but leaders all over the world in all capacities.  Forgive me for my bluntness, but the old Duty to God was built for a Utah-based young men’s program (or a United States-based program).  Some of the options weren’t available to those outside the borders.  And while I understand the old program tried to make well-rounded individuals (by focusing on aspects like physical health, education, arts, family life, etc.), the main focus was being lost.  Now, they’re starting to get a better focus.  For those in underdeveloped parts of the church (both nationally and abroad), there’s a better opportunity for the young priesthood holders to understand what their responsibilities, duties, and blessings that can be received.  They will get a firm knowledge of essential gospel principles to help them transition into teaching those principles, whether to their family, on their mission, or to their associates, wherever they might be.  They focus on some of the “big things” that teenagers should be concerned about (while I understand Education and Friends, Physical Health seems a bit out of place).

In conclusion, this is going to be a good program that will be utilized not only by more wards, but will see an increase in participation and achievement of the goal of achieving the Duty to God.  While receiving the piece of paper that has the achievement is great, the more important thing is the preparation these boys are now receiving, and I think it’s a very good thing.

Some more pictures are included below.

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