One common lament of people who do not come to Sabbath School is “My needs are not being met.” Long ago Ellen G. White wrote: “There is altogether too much dependence placed upon form and machinery . . . . This order of things must be changed if our Sabbath Schools meet the purpose for which they exist” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pp. 156, 157).
What we can do about it
Every superintendent and teacher who would produce programs in due season should speak the right words at the right time, and must be in earnest prayer frequently -- if they would draw people to Christ (see Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 77).
Yet though earnest and frequent prayer is urgently needed, prayer is not enough!
Home visits. Many pastors’ sermons are born in members’ homes during visitation. Likewise, superintendents can discover the needs of Sabbath School members by visiting in their homes.
Class visits. Superintendents who take the time to visit classes easily observe the needs of members. This is especially true in smaller classes. People open up and share their problems and joys.
Surveys. Include a list of ideas. Members check ideas for the kinds of Sabbath School programs that appeal to them. The list might include areas of health, family life, career, spiritual growth, and music.
Suggestions. Ask your membership for suggestions of programs that would interest them. Have them write their suggestions down on a piece of paper. Add the suggestions to the survey list.
Meeting their needs
After you have discovered the needs of members, try hard to meet those needs. Program options include these possibilities:
- A mini-series. The Sabbath School Council could plan several 15- to 20-minute programs to be held simultaneously before or after Sabbath School class discussions. Program offerings might include a video presentation on positive parent-child relationships, short lectures or demonstrations on stress management, a video on premarital guidance, a music workshop or open discussion, or sign language instruction. Providing options that correspond with the results of your survey opens up windows of opportunity to minister to the felt needs of church members and guests.
- Teachers’ meetings. Conduct regular Sabbath School teachers’ meetings and emphasize lesson applications that meet the needs of members. These meetings are opportunities for teacher instruction.
- Sabbath School Council. Since the church pastor and other departmental leaders usually know the situation of the congregation, it is important to meet regularly with the council. Praying, consulting, and planning with other church leaders will help Sabbath School superintendents to prepare programs and activities for the right time at the right place for the right people.
If church members see that their needs are being met, they will love to come to Sabbath School.
© 2003 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists