Lois is an executive secretary for the CEO of a large electrical supply firm. Her first love, however, is Sabbath School, where she is the head secretary in a suburban congregation.
One day as Lois was going over the class and division cards, she noted that Sabbath School attendance was declining. The next Sabbath Lois asked Althea, the general superintendent, if she would like to have a statistical analysis of Sabbath School attendance for the previous four quarters.
“That would be great, Lois. I would really appreciate it!” Althea replied. “I have thought that Sabbath School attendance has been dropping. We could present your statistics to the Sabbath School Council and then the entire Sabbath School.”
Lois thought about tracking the Sabbath School membership, attendance, and mission offerings for the four quarters. But she decided that Sabbath School attendance was probably the most critical need at the moment, because Sabbath School offerings were greatly affected by attendance.
It took Lois only a short while with a computer program to make a graph that tracked the average attendance for each of four quarters: 175, 161, 154, and 142. Because the decline was gradual, only an observant secretary had noticed. The average Sabbath School attendance was 158, or 38.1 percent of the church membership.
When Althea and Lois presented the report to the Sabbath School Council, the head elder asked, “Why is it that only 38 percent of our church members are attending Sabbath School?”
Sue, one of the assistant superintendents, observed that the fourth quarter attendance was the lowest of the year. “Attendance should have been near the top, comparable to the first quarter, because our members are not on vacations during these periods,” she observed.
The pastor requested that the report be presented at the next church board meeting, and board members were very concerned about the statistics. The board voted that the Sabbath School Council should identify the problem and initiate a solution.
“The entire congregation should see this report,” the pastor said. “This will motivate them to support the solution.”
After considerable discussion the Sabbath School Council asked the assistant secretaries to put the names of non-attending church members living in the area on file cards that could be distributed to the adult Sabbath School class members for visitation. Harry, one of the superintendents, suggested that a church-wide homecoming be held in three months.
Why did all this remedial action take place? Note the words of the Church Manual: “The secretary enables the superintendent to be aware of the pulse of the entire school.”* Sabbath School checkups must be part of a church health appraisal. God also holds Sabbath School leaders accountable for the health of the entire “flock” (see Ezekiel 34:10).
Charles H. Betz
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists