It occurred to me that many people hear that LDS teenagers attend seminary, but probably have no idea what seminary includes. I thought maybe I would give a sample of what a day in seminary is like. I should first explain that in parts of Utah and Idaho, teenagers are given "release time" from school to attend seminary during one school period of the day. I never had this privilege as a youth, but my understanding is that usually there is a seminary building close to campus where they can attend their seminary class. In California, because we do not have this opportunity, we hold seminary early in the morning at our church before school.
--Opening hymn. This is one of the hymns from our hymn book
--Scriptural thought: The students take turns giving a thought. This year we are encouraging them to give their thought from their reading of the book of Doctrine and Covenants, since that is our course of study this year. We usually spend one year studying the Old Testament, one year on the New Testament, one year on the Book of Mormon, and one year on Doctrine and Covenants.
--Opening prayer. Also given by a student.
--Scripture Mastery: Each year we focus on 25 "key" scriptures from the book of scripture we are studying. We spend a few minutes either learning about a new one, or having a "scripture chase" where the teacher gives a clue, and the students race to see who can find the scripture first."
--Lesson: The teacher gives a lesson outlined in the seminary manual. The lesson might include reading directly from the scriptures, discussing gospel principles found in the scriptures being studied that day, learning about the historical background etc. Sometimes the teacher gives a question to direct the students' reading such as, "Turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Look at the first 10 verses and see if you can find some of the "gifts of the spirit". Each student has their own set of scriptures, plus a student manual.
Sometimes students may share personal experiences about a subject when asked a question such as, "How have you seen prayers answered in your life?" Occasionally the lesson is supplemented with a church produced video about the subject being studied. I as a teacher try to focus on bearing testimony to the students about gospel principles.
--Closing prayer: Given by a student.
On Friday we try to have a "fun day" where we focus on scripture mastery by playing games to help review the key scripture mastery scriptures.
Some people might question why teenagers would get up early to come to the church at 6:30 in the morning. But the students I have talked to have said that it gives them a nice start to the day, and helps them to have a good spirit with them throughout their school day. Many of the students are planning on serving a full time mission for the church, and look at seminary as an important part of their preparation. To me, the most important reason for seminary attendance is that in seminary, the youth of the church really learn the doctrine of the gospel, the content of the scriptures, and gain a deep testimony of the truths of the gospel. They may not enjoy getting up early, but I think thtey would all admit that what they gain is worth the sacrifice!