Making visitors/guests feel welcome is one of the primary purposes of Sabbath School. Many different methods are used. Often visitors are asked to stand, and those around them shake hands or give them a hug. Sometimes they receive a ribbon or flower at the door. Frequently a general welcome is given by the superintendent. Sometimes a gift booklet or brochure is handed out. All of these methods can be effective.
A type of Sabbath School called Destination Sabbath School has developed a unique kind of welcome. This type of Sabbath School began on the campus of one of our universities and is currently active in a few churches in the North American Division. (Go to www.destinationsabbathschool.com for further information.) The welcome ministry is called The Almond Joy Ministry. It is very easy to use, and it combines fellowship and outreach. Here is how it works.
The Sabbath School purchases a supply of Almond Joy candy bars—the little ones, not the regular size. Almond Joys are used because of the word “Joy.” Each candy bar is wrapped in a specially prepared sheet of paper measuring 11 inches long but just 4 inches wide, the same width as the candy bar. The paper is made into a brochure called “The Theology of the Almond Joy.” One of these customized Almond Joy candy bars is given out to every visitor/guest. Here are some of the things included in this theology and printed on the paper:
Joy—The Almond Joy proclaims to us that most beautiful promise: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
The almond—The almond reminds us of Aaron’s budding staff, which through the power of God produced almonds in a single day. By this we remember that it is never too late for us to do good for God’s kingdom. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, even “dry sticks” like us can instantly become fruitful (see Numbers 17:8).
Sweetness—The Almond Joy is sweet to the taste, and so it is with the gospel of Christ: “You have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:3).
Indescribably delicious—When you eat an Almond Joy, according to its slogan, you find it “indescribably delicious.” So it is in the kingdom of God. Words are completely inadequate to describe how great, glorious, and powerful is the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit toward each of us (see Ephesians 3:14-21).
Jagged edges—The Almond Joy wrapper has jagged edges, a reminder that we all still have rough edges in our sin-damaged lives. Since none of us has yet reached the full stature and maturity of Christ, let us always remember to be tender and kind to other struggling sinners (see Galatians 6:1).
Inexpensive—Everyone can afford the price of an Almond Joy. So it is with our salvation, which God has made free to all (see Romans 3:22-24)!
Sealed—Each Almond Joy is factory-sealed to keep it fresh. In the same way, as Christians, we are to choose to be sealed by God, which guarantees that the sweet Holy Spirit within us will remain pure and fresh, “sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
Crushed coconut—The heart of an Almond Joy is crushed white coconut. This reminds us that our pure and holy Jesus was crushed for our iniquities. He felt the guilt and punishment of our sin and experienced our second death so that we sinners can ascend into heaven and enjoy eternal life (see Isaiah 53:3-6).
Stiff cardboard—This candy bar comes to us packaged on a piece of stiff cardboard. This is a glorious reminder that the sweet gospel of Jesus comes to us on a firm foundation (see Matthew 7:24, 25). Our trust in our wonderful God is not some wild-eyed fantasy, but a beautiful reality (see 2 Peter 1:16)!
Expiration date—Every Almond Joy comes with an expiration date. If you wait too long, the candy bar will not be any good. Therefore we are solemnly reminded that God’s offer of eternal life to sinners will not go on forever. Today is the day of salvation. To wait too long to respond to God’s sure and certain voice is to risk losing out on heaven and eternal life (see Hebrews 3:7-15).
Lightweight—A regular-size Almond Joy weighs only 1.76 ounces, making it lightweight and easy to carry. So it is with the gospel of Jesus and His commandments, for the Son of God assures us: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
Ingredient list—It takes many ingredients to make an Almond Joy. In the same way, God mixes into every Christian a variety of skills, gifts, abilities, and disciplines to produce within us the sweetness of sanctification (see 2 Peter 1:5-8).
Rounded letters—The words “Almond Joy” are written with rounded letters. This reminds us always to speak to one another with the “roundness” of compassion and gentleness. We should never speak to one another with sharp-edged words that are harsh and mean (see Ephesians 4:31, 32).
Two parts—The Almond Joy comes in two parts. So it is with the gospel of Jesus Christ: the Old and New Testaments; law and grace; heaven and hell; human effort and divine intervention; human free will and God’s sovereignty; revelation and mystery; God’s truth and Satan’s falsities; faith and works; words and deeds. We need to understand both parts to experience and enjoy the complete gospel of Jesus Christ, our Creator, Redeemer, and Savior.
IN A NUTSHELL
- Greeting visitors is a vital part of Sabbath School.
- Try an Almond Joy ministry.
- An Almond Joy ministry is a great way to highlight gospel principles.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists