The Scout-Led Troop Blog #6: “Guided Discovery” and Conversion

by | May 15, 2017

Bill Chapman

Our goal as LDS Scouters is unique. It is to: “Help young men become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and fulfill their divine roles” (Young Men Auxiliary Training). The Young Men General Presidency has suggested three ways to accomplish this goal:

  1. Be with them.
  2. Connect them with heaven.
  3. Let them lead.

This blog focuses on the second principle, “Connect them with heaven.” We all want our Scouts to become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But how can we help them become converted on a campout, at a troop meeting or other Scout activity?

As Scouters, we may feel a need to be in total control. We want to see “results” and “make things happen.” In contrast, the Lord’s way of influencing us is only “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—” (D&C 121: 41-42).

One approach to creating an atmosphere where the Spirit can speak to our Scouts is called “guided discovery.” The word “discover” means to “show interest in (an activity or subject) for the first time” (Oxford Dictionaries Online, “discover”). One Scouter has described “guided discovery” as “an approach where Scouts are asked a question which leads them to examine a situation and then discover the best way to proceed” (The Guided Discovery Process, Larry Green).

The key to applying the principle of “guided discovery” is to focus on our Scouts, not ourselves. The Church’s online “Young Men Auxiliary Training” includes training videos such as “Help Us Discover the Gospel.” This video illustrates the importance of using the “discovery” method to help connect our youth with heaven.

As shown in this video, Elder Bednar has taught the importance of self-reliance in gospel education in this way: “As parents and gospel instructors, you and I are not in the business of distributing fish; rather, our work is to help our children learn ‘to fish’ and to become spiritually steadfast…Such learning requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception” (David A. Bednar, “Watching with All Perseverance,” 180th Annual General Conference).

This approach is how the Savior taught. When the Savior wanted His disciples to really learn, He didn’t just talk; He listened, answered their questions, and invited them to “discover the gospel for (themselves)” (“Help Us Discover the Gospel” video); (emphasis added).

Teaching in the Savior’s way is not usually teaching with “lectures or long sermons; it invites real, heartfelt questions” (“Help Us Discover the Gospel”). As shown in the above training video, before Jesus answered Nicodemus’ questions about baptism, he listened carefully; then, he gave short answers. The Savior guided His pupils to “discover” the truths of the gospel in their own way and in their own time. We can do the same.

In the “Help Us Discover the Gospel” video, one teacher observes, “As much as I want to pour into their heads everything I’ve learned and have in my heart, I can’t do it. They have to find it for themselves. And so that’s what my challenge is, it’s to help them to feel and learn for themselves.”

How do we help our Scouts “discover” gospel principles for themselves? We can ask more questions, listen to our Scouts and guide them without lecturing. As we follow these principles, we can help create a setting where our Scouts can become converted to the gospel for themselves.


-Bill Chapman lives in San Clemente, California, and loves to surf, trail run, backpack, camp, do anything in the outdoors, and watch young men achieve the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood through the Scouting program. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.