Educational Supervision

This year we will look from four different viewpoints at the calling that you have undertaken as a Sabbath School superintendent: (1) educational supervisor; (2) recruiter of volunteers; (3) organizer; (4) person. Whether you sought the position or reluctantly accepted this vital role, you have been called and chosen for such a time as this. This time let’s address superintendents as educational supervisors.

Leaders are hard to come by. Today it is popular to lead the Sabbath School by committee, but a committee cannot replace a great leader supported by a committee. And the idea of the superintendent facilitating the entire Sabbath School and all its teachers may be new to you. So consider the following possibilities gleaned from Fundamentals of Christian Education, pages 256, 257):

  1. You facilitate teachers’ meeting during the week in person or by conference call (e.g., Skype), or at church early on Sabbath morning. This meeting may include eating together but always is richly weighted with prayer in order to facilitate each class being fresh and unique. To accomplish this goal, the superintendent often personally models a class or coordinates individual teacher’s presentations (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 109).
  2. You gather information. During an initial teachers’ meeting—to prevent any surprises—there should be some reference that the superintendent will be randomly visiting classes without interrupting the flow of the classes. The superintendent can offer to look for specific areas in which class facilitators indicate a desire to grow, remembering that no hint of a negative or punitive review process can be allowed in the most positive of all schools, the Sabbath School! (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 168).
  3. You affirm and instruct. After a few weeks of observing classes, the superintendent is armed with a long list of praise and prayer concerns:
  • Facilitators are personally interacting with individual class members (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 169).
  • Facilitators and members are talking about their real lives (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pp. 74, 114).
  • The class is “seeker” or non-Adventist friendly (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 61).
  • Facilitators who use the lecture method enliven the session with personal illustrations, object lessons, good organization, and a summary leading to a decision (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pp. 111, 115).

When finding specific concerns, superintendents:

  • Pray privately with teachers who display inexperience or anxiety about a ministry that is new to them.
  • Bring common organizational and instructional needs to the attention of the Sabbath School Council or discuss them in regular meetings of class facilitators—after reviewing successes.
  • Privately discuss with the pastor doctrinal misunderstandings and personality or temperament issues that you observe.

You may be saying to yourself, Yes! I could lead a successful Sabbath School if I had the assistance and teachers that I need. See you next quarter! We will study: The Sabbath School leader as a volunteer recruiter.

Jerrell Gilkeson
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists