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Should I go to Gospel Principles/Essentials or Gospel Doctrines?



What is the purpose of Sunday School?

Its Sunday schools only function is to teach the scriptures and to improve testimonies throughout the Church. It Sunday School has no other purpose in being, and we take that charge and responsibility very seriously.

Elder Robert L. Simpson, Sunday School President of the Church -1987

Leanne Glentworth (Drizzly British south coast)

- Recent convert 

- Adorable puppy

- Often wonders how her life would be improved if she had attended magic school.

I was baptized almost two years ago, and I only moved over to Gospel Doctrine classes very recently. So why did I stay in Gospel Principles for so long? One of the reasons was that my best-church-friend was the teacher, and she was such a great teacher that I simply really enjoyed the lessons. From my very first day in the ward, she was right by my side with her wonderful children, inviting me over for dinner, taking me to every meeting and fireside as well as simply being a great friend. She was my comfort blanket essentially, I felt safe and comfortable in her class as she knew my opinions and secrets like I knew hers, I knew nothing I could say would be the ‘wrong thing’. 

Another reason is that I’m awkward, especially socially, and I hadn’t made any particularly strong bonds with other members who would be in GD so I didn’t want to have to sit by myself. The biggest reason I stayed though, is because nobody had told me to go anywhere else. I have a crushing fear or doing the wrong thing, so moving classes without being told to seemed way too scary for me. In reality, I hadn’t asked anyone either so nobody was aware that I was waiting to be told what to do. But, I wouldn’t trade that extra time in GP for anything. I learned so much there, in an environment with no expectations that allowed me to form my own ideas, and most importantly, my own testimony.

Elder Robert L. Simpson, Sunday School President of the Church -1987: “Its [Sunday schools] only function is to teach the scriptures and to improve testimonies throughout the Church. It [Sunday School] has no other purpose in being, and we take that charge and responsibility very seriously.”

But, what are the real differences and when might it be prudent to move classes? Gospel Principles main purpose is to move investigators from the ‘searching’ phase to the ‘learning’ phase where Gospel Doctrines main purpose is to build knowledge of the standard works. (The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price) Yet, in my opinion, each has many other purposes as well.

Gospel Principles allows people to get back to basics and remind themselves of the foundations of their faith. If you’re struggling with one particular doctrine or piece of scripture, or perhaps you’ve had issues with other members that are making you want to skip meetings, maybe trying to be ‘in the world but not of it’ is taking its toll on you or something has happened in your life that is making you question the church, then heading back to the roots is a great way to remind you of the bigger picture. It’s also a wonderful place to build your own testimony as someone transitioning out of the youth classes or coming back after a period away from the church. Gospel Principles is set for twelve lessons, so in theory, people *should* be moving out in around 3 months though I’ve been told that a year is typical for new members although Gospel Principles is there for you for as long as you need it, or even just want it. In essence, Gospel Principles is the class to head to when you need to go back to the beginning - it’s the heading home for the weekend and eating your mother’s cooking of Sunday school classes..

Now, Gospel Doctrine is for those looking for a little more detail. Less of the ‘why’ and more of the ‘who, what, when and where’ it’s a place to discuss the finer points, the deeper meanings and sometimes the personal experiences that make living in the restored gospel so rich. Gospel Doctrine is for those looking to expand their knowledge, to really get into the nitty-gritty of the scripture. If you find yourself feeling bored and unchallenged in Gospel Principles, maybe you’re ready to dive deeper into the scriptures, or perhaps you feel like you’ve simply taken all you can from Gospel Principles at this time – then Gospel Doctrine could be the place for you. Gospel Doctrines is there for the real in-depth searching that we thirst for – it’s the late-night car ride with your best friend to the beach full of deep conversations and intimate confessions.

So what is the lesson here, what is the takeaway? Gospel Principles is a great resource for new members and investigators, but it’s also a great resource for all of us to spend some time getting back to the true basics of why we are so blessed. And Gospel Doctrines is there for you whenever you’re ready.


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  • The Book of Mormon believe that Jesus is the Christ the Eternal God, manifesting himself to all nations.Nephi 26-12 but yet is taught that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. If God the eternal Father is Jesus in the flesh how could he have sent his only begotten son into the world?

    • Carolyn Scruggs