What is Family Home Evening?

J. MacArthur

Family night, or family home evening, is a common practice among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), or Mormons. Mormons generally believe that the home is the most influential place of learning for young children and as a result the church encourages families to set aside one evening a week for the purpose of teaching gospel principles. Members of the Mormon Church are often admonished to have weekly family nights in addition to their regular church meetings and obligations.

The Salt Lake Temple, a Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Salt Lake Temple, a Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Family home evening was inaugurated in a letter from the Prophet Joseph F. Smith in April, 1915. In the letter he urged members of the church to gather their young children around them in their homes to teach them the word of the Lord. It was suggested that the focus be on gospel principles, reading the scriptures, singing hymns, and praying together.

Gospel principles are the focus of family home evening for Mormons.
Gospel principles are the focus of family home evening for Mormons.

Monday nights are generally reserved for family nights by Mormons. Local leaders and teachers are asked to respect the nature of these family nights by refraining from planning other church activities on this night. Churches and temples are closed to allow the clergy to be at home with their families.

It is urged to start and end each family home evening with a prayer. The intention is to keep with the reverence of the evening and to invite the spirit of the Lord into the home. Songs, games and snacks are common among those with small children. Recreational activities are also acceptable on family nights so long as the family is spending quality time together and building long lasting relationships. As children grow up, time allowances tend to shrink and compete with other school and extra curricular activities; therefore, each family home evening that is held should be thoughtful and meaningful.

Family home evening is encouraged for everyone. Children of all ages should participate, as well as families without children and single adults. Age appropriate lessons and discussions should be considered and adjusted accordingly as the children grow, and the participation of each family member should be encouraged.

Belief that the family is the fundamental unit of society is held in high regard throughout the Mormon faith. From this belief, it naturally follows that the home is where the most important truths should be taught by the parents. The Prophets of the Church have counseled that holding regular family home evenings will teach love, build family relationships and increase personal worth. It is further believed that blessings will come to those who follow in faith.

Mormon families might spend their home evening together enjoying a picnic.
Mormon families might spend their home evening together enjoying a picnic.

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