Modern families belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints treat Monday nights as a very special, very unique time. It has been described as a sacred time within the home. Monday night is Family Home Evening.
On Monday nights, everyone in the family makes a special effort to be at home. In the evening the family gathers for its own personal meeting. Generally, these meetings begin with a song and prayer, like any other church meeting. Then a lesson is taught, followed by an activity, refreshments, and a closing song and prayer.
This program was started in 1915 by Joseph F. Smith. He was a prophet for the Church, and isn’t recognized by the FLDS, so this program is another way we differ from them. President Smith wanted to encourage LDS families to make family life a top priority in the lives of its members. No church meetings may be held that night in order to help families keep it open.
The mother and father oversee the program, but generally, everyone in the family helps out. The lesson might be prepared and taught by a three-year-old (with a little help from a parent or older sibling). The music might be led by a kindergartener. Refreshments could be made by a teenager, and another child might conduct the meeting. Assignments normally rotate each week, so everyone learns how to do everything in the security of the home environment. Since the Mormon Church has a lay clergy, all the skills learned in family home evening are also needed within the wider church, and a child who has learned to prepare and teach a lesson or lead the music is able to serve comfortably when old enough to do it in church, and is prepared to do it in his own home when he’s grown.
There is a lesson manual families can use to help them prepare lessons. The Church’s website also has materials. However, families are also free to choose their own topics and materials to meet the unique needs of their own family.
Family home evening gives families one evening a week to be together in a busy life. It allows parents to share the values that matter to them with their children and to increase bonds.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the family unit can continue forever. Family members who truly love one another cannot imagine being happy without those they love. God emphasized the importance of families when He created a first family, not just a loose collection of random people. He placed in our hearts the ability to love our families in a way we love no one else, and a longing to be together forever.
LDS families, knowing they can be together forever, put a strong emphasis on family life. They want their families to be loving, and worthy of creating lasting bonds, and family home evening is a way to do this.