In front of more than 4,000 youth at the 2014 RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City this past February, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a challenge: “My challenge for you is to prepare as many names for the temple as you perform baptisms in the temple.”
In an effort to help LDS youth around the world complete this challenge, the Church recently released a number of helpful tools online at templechallenge.lds.org.
Irinna Danielson, product manager with the Member and Patron Outreach Division of the Family History Department, said, “After giving the message, Elder Andersen wanted to make sure that youth around the world who weren’t in the convention hall heard about the challenge and had an opportunity to accept.”
On July 1, 2014, the youth temple challenge was extended worldwide with the launch of the website templechallenge.lds.org.
“The main reasons people give for not doing their family history is that they don’t have time and they don’t know how,” said Sister Danielson. To help the youth of the Church accomplish the temple challenge, the Family History Department has simplified the message. It’s been broken down into four steps:
1. Accept the challenge
2. Find a family name
3. Go to the temple
4. Share with others
To accept the temple challenge, youth are encouraged to go to the website templechallenge.lds.org and click on the “I accept” button, showing their commitment to follow the words of an apostle. A challenge counter will be live on the site, updating in real time the number of youth that have already accepted the challenge.
Finding family names can be difficult, especially if a family has completed a lot of work already. “FamilySearch is working hard to get rid of barriers by creating technology that makes doing family history work easier than ever,” said Sister Danielson. For example, the new descendancy tool at FamilySearch.org is for those who think all of their family’s temple work is done.
“The descendancy tool helps us look beyond our direct lines to our cousins, where many more ancestors are waiting. It can be a powerful tool in the hands of our youth for quickly searching out our distant ancestors,” said Jim Greene, member outreach manager for the Family History Department. The new tool, along with a how-to video, can be found at familysearch.org.
McKenzie, a youth from Chorley, England, featured on the website, said, “I’d encourage the youth to take their own names to the temple because it is their family, and they’re going to see those people face to face one day, and they’re going to be with them forever.”
The next step in the process is to get to the temple and perform the necessary ordinances for ancestors who have been found. Youth need to meet with their bishop to obtain a limited-use recommend if they don’t already have one.
Elif, a youth from Kansas City, Missouri, featured on the website, said, “I haven’t taken family names to the temple until yesterday, and when I took them to the temple, I could feel they were there. They were so happy I was doing it.”
Sharing with others is the last step in the challenge. The new website has multiple ways youth can share. An inspiring video of Elder Andersen issuing the challenge, along with testimonials from youth who have accepted the challenge, are shared on the site. For example, Thomas from Bountiful, Utah, said, “This is the scriptures coming true right before my eyes. This is the children doing the work for their fathers.”
There are also memes and videos on the site that youth can share on their social networks to let friends and family know about the challenge.
“It’s a social event,” said Sister Danielson. “We’re inviting youth to join the temple challenge event on Facebook and use the hashtag #TempleChallenge. We want them to drive this campaign by posting pictures and sharing experiences. What a blessing it would be if thousands of youth from around the world flooded the Internet with good.”
“We finally have the doctrine, the temples and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the last general conference. “The leadership of the Church has issued a clarion call to the rising generation to lead the way in the use of technology to experience the spirit of Elijah, to search out their ancestors and to perform temple ordinances for them.
“Much of the heavy lifting in hastening the work of salvation for both the living and the dead will be done by you young people. If the youth in each ward will not only go to the temple and do baptisms for their dead but also work with their families and other ward members to provide the family names for the ordinance work they perform, both they and the Church will be greatly blessed.”