It’s only been a few months, but I’m already sick of the word “ministering.” This, of course, refers to the change in the Mormon church’s monthly home checkups.

While most of us aren’t exactly sure how the new program is supposed to work, the general idea seems to be a step away from home teaching (guys) and visiting teaching (women).

Previously, two adults (sometimes one man and one teenage boy) were assigned a number of families to visit each month, checking to see if anything was needed — food, water, financial help, extra church, etc.

The “teaching” part came from the early version of the program in which the visits were expected to include a gospel lesson.

I never gave a lesson to the families I visited, believing it a courtesy not to dump more church on them. I must have been right, because when I was leaving, nobody ever complained, “Hey, you forgot the lesson.”

Unfortunately, being assigned families to visit — and then later having someone check to see if you had, in fact, visited them — soon took on the feel of grudging obligation rather than genuine concern.

I’m not sorry to see home teaching go. I was press-ganged into it at age 13, usually with the Old Man as a partner because the places we lived didn’t always have enough adult priesthood holders to go around.

Home teaching with my father wasn’t too bad as mandatory Mormonism went. The families we were assigned sometimes lived 20 miles away rather than on the next street like here in Utah. Knowing that we had traveled to see them, these families often provided refreshments.

Later, home teaching in the same place where I was a cop proved problematic. The elders quorum president would ask/tell me to visit the (whoever) family. Then I’d have to suggest reasons why that might not be a wise move:

• “I pulled one of their drunk kids out of a car window by his hair.”

• “Brother Rommett is still pissed about a ticket I gave him last week.”

• “Maybe that’s not a good idea. I’ve seen Sister Goodie stark naked.”

The new ministering program is said to be an improvement. We’ll see.

If I’m giving you the idea that I’m against keeping in touch with people in your ward, congregation, club or neighborhood, I’m not. The primary point of any church should be service to one another.

You can argue that the entire point of church is to worship God. I’d come back with, “A real god doesn’t worry much about being worshipped.” Then you’d say, “Nuh-uh. It’s a commandment.” And I would reply, “Bull[short].” To which you would cry, “I’m telling the bishop.”

Members of our “congregations” should be comfortable enough to call around and ask for help. Likewise, we should know them well enough to understand that they’re going through some trouble even if they haven’t said anything.

I’d like to think I’m already doing this “ministering” by knowing my neighbors and having them trust me enough to give me the keys and codes to their homes when they’re gone.

I just got back from helping out a family across the street who lost a husband and father. I volunteered to take care of the dog, Max, while the family is at the funeral. Max is huge, an idiot and LOVES to wrestle.

So, I’m sweaty, out of breath and bleeding from assorted scratches. Damn dog is nuts. This better count as ministering.