Running a Branch Sabbath School

A Branch Sabbath School is an evangelistic type of service conducted primarily for the benefit of non-Seventh-day Adventists. Branch Sabbath School is an evangelistic endeavor using Sabbath School materials. It may be held on any day of the week.

Types of Branch Sabbath Schools

A church planting Branch Sabbath School. This type of Branch Sabbath School is held on Sabbath at the same time as the regular Sabbath School, using the same materials, but in another location. Its purpose is to establish a new Sabbath School and eventually a new church. It is advisable to consult with the pastor and church officers regarding the best location for this type of Branch Sabbath School.

An outreach Branch Sabbath School. This is evangelistic in nature and may be conducted on any day of the week. It is designed to create spiritual interest and bring souls to a saving relationship with Jesus. It may be conducted for children, youth, or adults.

Who Attends a Branch Sabbath School?

  • Church members who are not Sabbath School members
  • Former members
  • Seventh-day Adventist parents of children in Sabbath School or church school
  • Guests who visit the church
  • Vacation Bible School interests
  • Friends, neighbors, and relatives
  • People responding to a community survey
  • Interests from literature evangelists
  • Radio, TV, and Bible school interests
  • Hospital visitation interests
  • Interests from literature distribution
  • Ingathering contacts
  • Those attending evangelistic meetings
  • Community service contacts
  • Prison ministry contacts
  • Business associates and contacts

How to Start a Branch Sabbath School

With some personal initiative and creativity, many church members can find ways to start Branch Sabbath Schools. Keep in mind that the Sabbath School department of the local church should always be kept up to date on the progress of its Branch Sabbath Schools.

The Branch Sabbath Schools are part of the overall church program. They are never the personal arena of any one person or group in the church.

Some suggestions for creating interest are:

  • Have a story hour for children.
  • Start a Bible marking class.
  • Start a Bible discussion group.
  • Conduct an adult program in conjunction with Vacation Bible School.
  • Continue Vacation Bible School on a weekly basis.

Where Can Branch Sabbath Schools Meet?

Branch Sabbath Schools can meet in all kinds of places:

  • Private homes of members or interested persons from Vacation Bible School, Bible studies, and other activities
  • Public building -- courthouse, fire station, school
  • Vacant building-- store, church, office
  • Nursing home
  • Prison
  • Outdoors if weather and conditions permit.

Branch Sabbath School Personnel

Branch Sabbath School programs usually follow the format of the regular Sabbath School and use the same materials. The only difference is when and where they meet.

Begin with a simple program. Recruit friends to help establish the Branch Sabbath School. Ideally, there will be four people on the leadership team, each with a particular set of spiritual gifts:

  • The leader or administrator of the Branch Sabbath School
  • The teacher or teachers
  • A prayer leader or care coordinator to serve as pastor of the Branch Sabbath School.
  • A person with the gift of hospitality to serve as greeter, social planner, and host or hostess of the Branch Sabbath School.

Branch Sabbath School Programs

The following programs are suggestions. You may need to design program formats that fit the social context of the part of the world where your Branch Sabbath School is held.

Program for a new Branch Sabbath School:
Song or song service
Bible lesson or story

Suggestions for Children’s Branch Sabbath Schools

  • The program should not last longer than one hour. Use music and active participation.
  • If Bible quizzes are used, take into account the age and knowledge of the participants.
  • Whenever possible, divide into small groups for the lesson study.
  • Use activities and object lessons to reinforce the Bible stories.
  • The ideal is that each child will get something to take home.
  • Periodically, invite parents to a program presented by the children.
  • For young children especially, focus on leading them to Jesus and not on complicated doctrinal issues.

Suggested Formats:
Songs (with illustrations and activities)
Devotional talk (2 minutes). Suggested topics: love for parents, reverence, love of Jesus, Bible study, etc.
Nature talk or story (always with illustrations)
Bible games
Bible lesson
Mission story
Closing prayer

Adult Branch Sabbath School Programs

Use the same general format as a regular Sabbath School. Depending on the topic of the quarter, the regular Adult Bible Study Guide may be used.

If the audience is made up of mostly non-church members, a series of Bible studies may be used. Topics such as health, family life, parenting, and other issues may also be studied.

Encourage parents to attend an adult Branch Sabbath School while their children attend one for their age group.

Suggested Formats:
Opening song
Special feature (music, quiz, health talk, etc.)
Bible study and discussion
Mission story (may be a video, a verbal presentation, etc.)
Closing song

Youth Branch Sabbath Schools

Follow the program formats for the adults or devise one that fits the context in which the Sabbath School is held.

© 2007 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists