What Happened When I Quit Home Teaching


Many years ago, I quit home teaching. I had my reasons, and I thought they were pretty valid. No matter what the elders quorum president or the bishop said, I simply refused to do home teaching. One evening I got a phone call from a member of the stake high council. He asked to meet with me at the church and I agreed to meet him. I met with this brother, and after an opening prayer, he asked me to home teach. I told him “no.” I then told him that my going into other members’ homes was a waste of my time and theirs, and that it wouldn’t make one bit of difference in anyone’s salvation if I did it or not. I left the office, got in my car, and headed home, feeling quite pleased with myself.

However, a block away from the church is a four-way stop. As I pulled to a stop to allow a car to pass, I heard a voice in my head saying, “Scott, what is it going to hurt you to do your home teaching?” I sat there dumfounded. I could argue with the high councilor, but I couldn’t argue with the Spirit. And the more I thought about that prompting the stronger I felt that it was the right thing to do. I had to repent and do my home teaching.

I don’t think that I have performed any great miracles as a home teacher, and I don’t know if I’ve made any great impact on anyone’s life. But I can testify to you that home teaching has had a miraculous effect on my life and that it has been a blessing to me and to my family. It has made me more compassionate. It has made me more patient and long-suffering. It has made me think about others outside my family.

Last year my principal walked into my class before school started, and handed me a card, a bag of chips, and a soft drink. On the card was written: “In a world of chaos, you provided calm for someone.” She didn’t tell me whose life I had touched; I had been “reported” anonymously. I don’t know if it had been a student or an adult. I’m sure that I thought it was no big deal, whatever I had done. But I had blessed someone’s life, somehow.

Home teaching is like that. There are many wonderful things that will never be done, if we do not do them. I currently home teach ten families. My elders’ quorum president and my high priests’ group leader have tried, unsuccessfully, to lighten my load and take some of those families and reassign them, but I won’t let them. I have come to love the families I home teach.  

It is not always easy for me to get into their homes. There are times when I don’t visit all ten, but it is never for a lack of trying. And there are a multitude of ways that we can be of service.

Many years ago I home taught a sister who was married to a Jewish man. He had had a series of strokes and couldn’t drive. As Rosh Hashanah was approaching, I called and asked if I could take him to synagogue since he had no other way to go. So the two of us drove to The Woodlands on a Friday evening, and enjoyed a wonderful evening together. He introduced me to everyone as his “Mormon friend.” He explained that I had driven him since he couldn’t drive. This caused many raised eyebrows, nods of approval, and the comment that I had done a great mitzvah, or good work. On the way home he talked to me of how much he had always wanted to be a good Jew, and I shared my testimony to him of how glad I was that I was LDS, and how my life had been blessed.

I am far from being an ideal home teacher, but I have a testimony of home teaching. It is our opportunity to minister to the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. It is our chance to man the rescue boats, as President Monson mentioned, and go out to those who are struggling on the storm-tossed seas of life. And in so doing, we lose ourselves in the work of the Lord and become, as Obadiah wrote, “saviors on Mount Zion.”




Scott Bumbaugh teaches high school German at Huntsville High School in Huntsville, TX, where he also serves as bishop of the Huntsville 1st ward. He served a full-time mission for the Church to Japan Kobe, and upon his return earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Sam Houston State University. He is married to Loretha and they are parents to two sons and two daughters in-law. 

14 comments

  1. Thanks for this story. I've had a hard time doing my home teaching lately. Feeling like you that it wouldn't make a difference. Thank you for helping me to see that it can even if we don't know what the difference is.

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  2. When my parents married my mom was Catholic and my dad was inactive. They drank, a lot. Never went to church. Definitely didn't want kids. They had a home teacher who came regularly, and became their friend. At some point my mom said, out of the blue, that she wanted to be baptized. They had six kids, five of whom have been married in the temple, two who served missions, 8 grandkids so far. Once my mom asked her home teacher why he kept coming. He said, 'I always saw you in white.'

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  3. I'm active in my ward today because of a persistent home teacher who visited faithfully and kindly but firmly bore his testimony and called me to go to the evening session of stake conference promising to come get me and drag me there if he needed to. He knew I needed to be there and I agreed to go knowing Scott would do as he promised and as I sat there in the chapel I felt the spirit so strong that I knew I was where I was supposed to be. Every speaker that night I felt spoke directly to me shooting down every excuse I gave about not going to church. It was a life changing event for me that was brought on by a persistent home teacher who had the faith and determination to fulfill his calling and I will be eternally grateful.

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  4. Home teaching AND visiting teaching ARE hard things to do. Thank you for reminding me of its importance.

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  5. I, too, had a very special visiting teacher who helped me become active. She even went shopping for me and bought me a dress to wear when I told her that was one of my reasons for not going to church. The dress fit perfectly, and I felt beautiful in it. I know nothing had really changed except that the spirit had touched me. I thank my father in heaven for her obedience. I am far from perfect in my visiting teaching calling, but every time I think of her I try harder. I know even though there is nothing special about me or the message I deliver...Heavenly Father will bridge the gap for me and touch hearts as he did mine.

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  6. In other churches, members socialize with those most like themselves, forming cliques that interfere with the unit of the members. In our church, the home teaching and visiting teaching programs call us to associate with and become friends with people who may be very different from us and we find many opportunities to render Christ-like service to them. Home teaching reactivated me in the church and I have a testimony of its importance.

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    1. You hit upon a very important point. Living the gospel makes us step outside. That is another good reason we have, to the shock of many other people, geographic boundaries on our congregations. We don't want congregations competing with each other, but more importantly, it compels us to get along with our neighbors.

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  7. I am a single sister and the only member in my family. My home teacher brings blessings just by his priesthood presence in my home, and I am so thankful whenever he visits. So please, Home Teachers, never think your work doesn't do anything. It does so much!

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  8. Thank you! We all need a reminder of how important this work is!

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  9. I hope my home teachers always know what a blessing they have been in my life. I don't know if they do or not but after reading this, I will make sure they do! First 8 years of my married life my husband was what they call less active. Ha he was totally in active! We had home teachers we never saw but most of the time we had home teachers who not only came every month they would call my husband in-between visits and tell him things the Elder's quorum was doing, or about ward activities. I love those home teachers. We went to the Temple to be sealed on our 10th wedding anniversary, 32 years ago this year. Now we are serving a mission in the Vanuatu Port Vila mission in the South Pacific. Did I mention I loved those home teachers and the ones we had just before we left on our mission. We don't have home or visiting teachers here on our mission-I miss them!

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  10. I was inactive for a couple of years and finally "came back" because I missed making a difference as a home teacher. I got my temple recommend back a year ago because a sister I home teach has cancer and I wanted to be able to pray for her in the temple. I think catching the vision of Jesus and catching the vision of home teaching are inseparable. As home teachers we are Christ's hands and feet. If we view it as merely a program we are missing out on so much.

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  11. I was widowed for 8 years before remarrying. I usually had good home teachers, not so often good visiting teachers. Please do your home teaching and visiting teaching. Especially if you are assigned to a widow or widower. You'd be surprised how many never get a visit from either home teachers or visiting teachers. It's more important than you may realize. I know this to be true because I am involved with a FB group of widows and widowers. So many of them never get visited. That is contrary to the teachings of Pres. Monson and the Savior.

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  12. I have such fond memories of the brother who home taught us while I was growing up. I don't remember any of the messages he gave, but I remember feeling loved and valued because of his faithfulness. Another faithful home teacher influenced the conversion of my husband; and while raising our children a faithful home teacher showed us how to serve even though your heart is breaking as his was while he went through a painful divorce. I'm so grateful for the brothers who have taken the time and expended energy to visit our family, share with us the words of the prophets, and strengthen our testimonies. I don't believe unity in the gospel is possible without personal, face to face visits in each other's homes.

    Where we live now home and visiting teaching is simply not done and WE MISS IT!!! When we lived elsewhere I taught our children that a visit from the home teachers was like a visit from the Savior, because that priesthood holder is the Savior's representative.

    We get a testimony of this work by doing it - See John 7:17

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