What did surprise me was that another new member (of about 8 months) who also happened to be there during the visit, looked very surprised and said, "OH! So that's why those men have been visiting us every month!" She went on to tell us how these "two nice men from Church" had called every month to schedule a visit and had always come and given a gospel message, but she and her husband didn't know why - they just thought the two men were being friendly! "I didn't know they were our home teachers!" I had to laugh, but it also made me think that our new members still need MORE information about whats going on. We may know what visiting and home teaching are, but that doesn't mean they totally understand it.
As Ward Missionaries we explain these concepts to the new members (during personal visits and occasionally during Gospel Essentials lessons). I also include a page in the "Welcome Packet" for new members that explains what home teaching and visiting teaching is and another page that explains what the New Member Discussions are. Now, the information is being provided, but it doesn't seem like its being made clear enough. So, I came up with a sort of "cheat sheet" that explains the 4 types of regular visits that they should be receiving (complete with pictures to help make the distinction easier!). See text below:
who will be contacting me to schedule
visits to my home? (and why?)
Two women are assigned by the Relief Society to visit each woman in the Ward with a brief gospel message every month. If you are an adult woman, you will be contacted by your new Visiting Teachers soon.
Two men are assigned by the Elders-Quorum (or High Priests Group) to visit each family with a brief gospel message every month. You will be contacted by your new Home Teachers soon.
The full-time Missionaries (the "Elders'') may continue to visit new members and give short gospel messages from time to time as their schedules permit
The Ward Missionaries (INSERT NAMES HERE) will visit new members (once a month or so) and give a series of 5 brief lessons called the "New Member Discussions"* (INSERT REAL PHOTO(S) OF YOUR WARD MISSIONARIES OVER <-- HERE)
To conform to the blog format I had to make some changes to the document to show you here, but the basic idea is the same. Its just a brief one-page summary of each of the groups that will be contacting the new members for regular visits. I hope this will help take away some of the confusion.... I'm planning to make these available to future new members, as well as recent converts who might still be having difficulty making sense of all these programs!
*As I've mentioned before, the arrangement that we have in our Ward is that Ward Missionaries are responsible for teaching the New Member Discussions. In other Wards, you may have a different system (the Elders or Home Teachers may teach the New Member Discussions, or a combination of people might be responsible). Consult your Ward Mission Leader for more info.