The Oakridge, Oregon, Sabbath School had a glorious homecoming! The church was crowded. People came who had not been to Sabbath School for years. There were hugs and laughter as old friends were reunited. After the worship hour the entire congregation enjoyed a delicious potluck dinner.
This successful event was the result of much prayer and faithful visitation by trained Sabbath School personnel. It all began because three Sabbath School secretaries, Lois and her two assistants, and the superintendents dreamed the impossible dream, went to work, and trusted God to make it happen. A growing, vibrant Sabbath School was the result.
Six months before Homecoming Day, Lois had offered to do an analysis of Sabbath School attendance for the preceding four quarters. The results of the study showed a Sabbath School in serious decline, and the Sabbath School Council and the church board planned four remedial components: prayer, visitation, training, and advertising.
Each adult class agreed to pray for Homecoming Day for 10 minutes each Sabbath before the lesson study.
The superintendent conducted a training course as an outreach to visitors. She initiated a teacher-training seminar for all levels of the Sabbath School. An advertising specialist in the church prepared two flyers. The first flyer was for the visitors’ outreach to announce the homecoming. The second flyer outlined three new classes to begin the Sabbath after Homecoming Day. The classes were entitled: “Secrets of the Happy Christian Home,” “How to Manage Stress,” and “Studies in the Book of Revelation.”
The Sabbath School purchased several videos to increase interest in the children’s and youth divisions.
On Visitors’ Day ushers distributed the flyers announcing the three new classes. Althea, the superintendent, introduced the teachers of the new classes and invited guests to return the coming Sabbath to “sample” a class. She emphasized that people were free to join any class. The Sabbath following Homecoming Day, Lois reported a 25-percent increase in attendance. The three new classes welcomed more than 20 new members.
Working for Homecoming Day taught Oakridge Sabbath School members some very important lessons:
- Sabbath School attendance cannot be taken for granted.
- Careful monitoring of membership and attendance must be ongoing.
- Quality programs and teaching are vital if growth is to be maintained.
- Missing Sabbath School members must be contacted regularly.
- Sabbath School Council meetings must be held once a month.
At the next Sabbath School Council, Lois suggested that totals for Sabbath School membership, attendance, and offerings be placed in the church bulletin each week. Althea agreed, saying, “It will help us to keep Sabbath School front and center in the life of the church.” Althea also suggested that a five minute update on Sabbath School be given every month so the entire Sabbath School would know how things are going.
Lois continued, “I’d like to share something I have learned from my job as secretary to the CEO of a large corporation: Success in business depends on identifying trends and taking action. So I guess it is up to us as Sabbath School secretaries to keep our records up to date so that we will know if our Sabbath School is growing or dying.”
The work of Sabbath School secretaries is vitally important. They are the eyes and ears of the Sabbath School and indispensable members of the team. Lois and her assistants communicated their vision, and the superintendents and the Sabbath School Council responded by careful planning, much prayer, and hard work.
“The Sabbath School, when rightly managed, possesses marvelous power, and is adapted to doing a great work. . . . The influence growing out of Sabbath School work should improve and enlarge the church” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 9).
Charles H. Betz
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists