Institution of Family Home Evening
Family Home Evening was first instituted by In 1915 President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in an effort to strengthen the family. At the time it was called "Home Evening" when once a week families gathered together to pray, sing, study the scriptures and the gospel, and to build family unity.
This is what the First Presidency said back in 1915:
"'Home Evening' should be devoted to prayer, singing hymns, songs, instrumental music, scripture-reading, family topics and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel, and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligations of children to parents, the home, the Church, society and the nation. For the smaller children appropriate recitations, songs, stories and games may be introduced. Light refreshments of such a nature as may be largely prepared in the home might be served.Monday Night is Family Night
"If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them."1
It wasn't until 1970 when President Joseph Fielding Smith joined with his counselors in the First Presidency to designate Monday night as the time for Family Home Evening.2 Since that announcement, the Church has kept Monday evenings free from Church activities and other meetings so families can have this time together. Even our sacred Temples are closed on Mondays, silently showing the vast importance of families being together for Family Home Evening.
Importance of Family Home Evening
Since President Smith instituted "Home Evening" in 1915, latter-day prophets have continued to emphasize the importance of the family and Family Home Evening. Our prophets have seen that the evils that are tearing down families is continually increasing.
In one General Conference President Thomas S. Monson said,
"We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program. It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest."3Family Home Evening can be adjusted for all kinds of family situations including those who are single, newlywed, families with young children, families with older children, and those who's children no longer live at home.
Successful Family Home Evenings
How can we have regular and successful Family Home Evenings? One key answer to that question is preparation. Using a Family Home Evening Outline is a great way to easily and quickly plan Family Home Evening. Giving each family member a Family Home Evening assignment will also help by delegating responsibilities.
Also, using the Church's Home and Family Manuals such as the Family Home Evening Resource Book and the Gospel Art Book is a great way to prepare a successful Family Home Evening. In the introduction of the Family Home Evening Resource Book it states that the "Family Home Evening Resource Book has two major goals: to build family unity and to teach gospel principles."
Another key to improving your family's Family Home Evening is to encourage participation of all family members, including during the lesson. Even very young children can participate by helping hold up pictures, describing or pointing to things in pictures, and repeating a phrase or two about the topic being taught. It is more important for your family to learn together than it is to give an in-depth lesson.
Best Family Home Evening Success
Most importantly though, the best way to have a successful Family Home Evening is to have it. The purpose of Family Home Evening is to be (and learn) together as a family and all you have to do to achieve that goal is to simply hold Family Home Evening.
The more regularly you bring your family together for Family Home Evening, the more accustomed they will come to being together, participating in Family Home Evening, and being united as a family.
As President Ezra Taft Benson said about Family Home Evening, "... Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty."
1. First Presidency letter, 27 April 1915 — Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose.
2. What is Family Home Evening, LDS.org
3. "Constant Truths for Changing Times," Ensign, May, 2005, 19.