Question: Should teachers or class discussion leaders read aloud to the class all the notes in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide?
Answer: This is a question that arises quite often because of a misunderstanding of the nature of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. Because of the wealth of information in it many teachers are puzzled on just how much of it to use during the class, and at first view it seems like a good idea to go over all of the material in class. Many teachers also assume that few members studied during the week (unfortunately, all too often that’s true).
However, the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is not designed to be used that way. It is intended to be studied in detail at home, not in the class. To try to cover every point in the lesson and read all the notes during the class period is an exercise in futility. There's not enough time. In addition, that’s not how learning takes place. Extensive reading to an audience is one of the worst possible ways to teach anything!
This is not a new problem. Ellen G. White faced the identical circumstances when Sabbath School was a brand new idea in the Adventist Church: “It is not the best plan for teachers to do all the talking, but they should draw out the class to tell what they know. Then let the teacher, with a few brief, pointed remarks or illustrations, impress the lesson upon their minds” ( Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 115).
Within the customary time available for a Sabbath School class, about all that you can do is touch on the major highlights of the lesson. It is not necessary to go through everything day by day. Even a lot of the questions in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide are designed for individual study—to be answered individually, not necessarily by the entire group. What is necessary is to find the major issues or points brought out in the week’s lessons and emphasize how those can be applied to a person’s Christian experience. Refer to the article in the Teacher Enhancement section on pages 16, 17 for some ideas on how to do this.
A teacher or discussion leader might say something like this: “A key thought in this week’s lesson is ____. Open your Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide to Wednesday’s lesson and notice what it says in paragraph two, line five.” Then a discussion can be initiated on the particular point that the teacher or discussion leader has picked out as being a key concept in the week’s lesson. After that various class members can be asked to read some Bible texts that back up the point.
In summary: Reading to the class extensively from the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is never a good idea. The objective is to emphasize, discuss, and apply the main point(s) of the week’s lesson.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists