I read a blog the other day (no link, you'll see why in a moment) in which a member of the church was complaining that there is no longer any revelation in General Conference. In the early days of the church, he pointed out, the Prophet would call missionaries, make "thus saith the Lord" declarations, and ratify new policies and even scriptures. These days, the malcontent grumbled, they generally repeat the same old messages about being obedient, shunning pornography and loving thy neighbour. Why, he asked, is there no longer any revelation at General Conference?
Well, first off, can you imagine how long Conference would take if all missionary calls were given at that time? We have 88,000 serving missionaries at the moment. Correct me if my maths is wrong, but doesn't that mean 22,000 are called every six months? Now that would be one looooong conference session.
Secondly, I dispute the suggestion that there is no longer revelation from God at General Conference. There is plenty of it. Let me explain what leads me to that conclusion.
Each week I take notes during my regular church meetings and post them on Facebook as "What I Learned At Church Today" (#WILACT). I started doing this a couple of years ago as a way of helping myself remember all I gained from attending, and can usually come up with six or seven brief points. I've found it really helps me get the most from church, and many people look for it every week, and enjoy being uplifted by it. I have friends who can't get out to church and they often let me know how much my updates touch them.
I have just one simple rule when I take notes in sacrament meeting and lessons for this purpose: it has to be something I learned, not something I knew beforehand and am restating. This has to be new knowledge I have come by simply through attending my regular church meetings.
"What I Learned At Church Today" is not about what was said that Sunday morning but about what was heard. It's not what was taught, it's what I learned. I learn in many ways at church: though the spirit, through reading the scriptures and lesson manuals, through the words of hymns, through speaking to other members, and through paying attention to what is being taught. Any time something new comes to my mind I note it down and share it for others to benefit from. I learn a great deal from attending church, and that's what I wanted to show in my WILACT posts.
I think what I am receiving at church each week is revelation.
Now, let's take this a step further. At General Conference we have the wonderful opportunity to listen to Prophets, Apostles and other church leaders talk to us about subjects they feel inspired to address. I learn so much during General Conference that I don't even attempt to take notes. I gain new insight, answers, understanding and testimony. In a nutshell, I gain revelation. It generally takes me the better part of six months, and a copy of the Ensign and a highlighter pen, to work through it all and think about how it impacts and changes my life.
It's true that we haven't had any official declarations for a while, and that the prophet hasn't revealed next week's lottery numbers from the pulpit. (Remember, though, that the job of a prophet is not so much to foretell as to forth-tell). But my answer to those who say that there is no longer revelation at General Conference is that they are simply wrong. There is plenty of it, but now it's personal. We receive revelation for ourselves, and surely that's of much more value than hearing 22,000 mission calls.