Foundational assumption: We all know that home teaching is important. The reasons for it and the benefits felt as a result of doing it well are many.
Here’s what the handbook says about home teaching reporting:
Each month, home teachers report to quorum or group leaders on the spiritual and temporal welfare of the members they visit. If a member’s needs are urgent, home teachers report them immediately.
Quorum and group leaders receive monthly home teaching reports from each companionship. In addition, they meet with home teachers regularly to discuss the spiritual and temporal welfare of the members they are assigned and to make plans to help members in need. Confidential information should be reported only to the elders quorum president or high priests group leader, who reports it to the bishop.
The elders quorum president and high priests group leader give the bishop monthly home teaching reports. Each report includes a list of those who were not contacted. Reports give special attention to new members, less-active members, and others who have serious needs. If a family or individual has urgent needs, the elders quorum president or high priests group leader reports this information to the bishop immediately.
Ward council members strive to stay informed about the needs, well-being, and spiritual progress of members in their organizations. They also stay informed about members who face special challenges or changing circumstances. This information allows them to strengthen those who most need their help. At the same time, they respect individual and family privacy. Only the bishop deals with matters of personal worthiness.
One of the resources available to ward council members mentioned in that same section is:
Reports from home teachers and visiting teachers.
Orthogonal: (of an experiment) having variates that can be treated as statistically independent.
Detail (verb): describe item by item; give the full particulars of.
The quality and meaningfulness of decisions made by any Priesthood leader are somewhat proportional to the amount and accuracy of information already obtained by time the decision is made. Inspiration and revelation are aided by careful study and relevant, accurate information.
I am hard-pressed to imagine a Bishop not devouring any and all information he receives regarding any family in our ward. We should obtain such information even when a visit is not possible during a given month. We probably can’t be too verbose in our reports. We should report the pressing needs of the families along with the overall happenings and status.
Voluntary: done, given, or acting of one’s own free will.
Because there are many more home teaching companions than quorum leaders it makes sense from a logistical standpoint that reports should always flow upward from home teachers to quorum leaders to the Bishop. Reports should not need to be pursued by leaders at/after the end of the month.
Beyond this logistical reasoning, there are other, even more important reasons for home teachers to deliver reports voluntarily:
It helps to remember that we don’t report our home teaching so we come out as 100% home teachers, we report our home teaching so that Priesthood leaders know the status of each family in their stewardship.
Frequent: occurring or done on many occasions, in many cases, or in quick succession.
More logistics: Consider the situation at the end of the month when 25+ home teaching companionships voluntarily report the status of 65+ families they have been assigned to home teach. This is simply too much information to receive and record in a short period of time and in an organized way.
One easy solution is for companionships to simply report the status of their families immediately following a block of visits–even before parting ways! Reports will stream in all during the month, perhaps multiple times from each companionship, but because the reporting is spread out rate is manageable.
The constant flow of communication all throughout the month as a result of these simple adjustments will only serve to improve the quality of support that leaders are able to give. Urgent matters will be sent to the bishop without delay and a monthly report will be compiled in real time and sent without delay at a single click of a button at the end of the month.
It should go without saying that any method of reporting home teaching should be non-public. Here are a few options that come to mind:
If a method of communication does not lend itself to a detailed report, use that method only as a way to start a dialog by reporting that the visit happened and requesting that the quorum leader follow up with a phone call or interview to transmit the remaining information.
Each of the orthogonal concepts we’ve discussed could be implemented separately, but foster a meaningful interchange of information when practiced all together.
We already take the time to attend to our assigned families. Let’s also take a few minutes to report the status of those we visit in a deliberate, meaningful way.