What percentage of your members arrive at Sabbath School on time -- 90 percent? 70 percent? 50 percent? 30 percent? 10 percent? As I travel around the world, I find that most Sabbath Schools begin on time, but that the percentage of attendance is usually less than 50 percent. Is this also a problem in your church? How can you draw people to Sabbath School earlier? Consider these suggestions.
God is our source of wisdom. Any revitalization program needs to begin with God. Therefore, an earnest prayer life is urgently needed by all Sabbath School superintendents who are interested in improving our Sabbath Schools. We need to pray for the spiritual growth of our members, for specific goals, for the attendance, and for more converts to come into the church by way of the Sabbath School. Arriving on time or even earlier is very often indicative of the spiritual health of our members.
Our God is organized. He who created the whole universe according to His master plan desires that we lay careful plans for every aspect of His work. This includes the plan to draw people to Sabbath School on time.
As a Sabbath School superintendent, you need to remember that you get what you work for. If you work for people to come early, they will come early. In planning, you need to know your base. How many people arrived early last year? Last month? What is your specific goal for this year? How are you going to achieve this goal? In setting up your plan, you need to educate your members and advertise your attendance goals.
Feed the flock
Since the problem of not arriving at Sabbath School on time may often indicate a spiritual problem, it is necessary to work with all Sabbath School teachers, elders, and church pastors to encourage Sabbath School members through revival sermons and messages. A true revival experience will often create a great desire for coming early to Sabbath School. Members won’t want to miss the Sabbath School program or the lesson study, which are food for their souls.
- Call one another. Invite Sabbath School members to call at least one person on Friday evening. Sabbath School staff, teachers, and members of the Sabbath School Council could call one person and invite him/her to come early to Sabbath School. This shows concern and love for one another.
- Organize Sabbath School programs for the whole year to interest and educate members and their guests. Publish a monthly calendar of Sabbath School programs and events in your church bulletin.
- Sabbath School staff and teachers need to provide a good example by arriving early and welcoming the rest of the members. Members and visitors need to feel welcome when they come to Sabbath School.
- Invite Sabbath School classes or other groups such as seniors, youth, or children to present special programs. This will ensure their presence.
- Plan special musical presentations or other special features early in your program, right after the opening prayer. (Announce it the week before.)
- Recap the morning activities at the close of the Sabbath School program to let those who came late know what they missed.
- Show appreciation by giving early arrivals a nice flower or ribbon.
The Sabbath School Council needs to evaluate its program periodically. Does the Sabbath School meet the needs of the Sabbath School members? Does it meet the objectives of the Sabbath School: study of the Word, fellowship, community outreach, and promotion of world missions? Regular evaluation will lead to discovering ways to improve the total Sabbath School program.
By the grace of God, Sabbath School revitalization is assured!
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists