After the Benediction: Fellowship

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this module, facilitators will be able to do the following:

  • Exhibit an understanding of the importance of fellowship outside the Sabbath School class and the church structure.
  • Use various techniques to maintain contact with Sabbath School class members throughout the week.
  • Incorporate members’ special skills and talents in planning and maintaining varied Sabbath School fellowship events and programs.

“Praise the Lord! Another successful Sabbath School lesson! Now I can get to work on planning the lesson for next week!” Are these some of your thoughts after a great Sabbath School class session? So you feel that you can jump ahead and just begin preparation for next week’s lesson?

Wrong! You have only begun. I refer to Lesson 1 in this certification series, “Unmasking Motivations.” You must be an all-week facilitator, one who stays in fellowship with members even after the benediction.

If you live in the same community as many of your members, you may interact with them during the week. What does this have to do with your position as an adult Sabbath School facilitator? Remember that you are Christ’s representative wherever you go, whatever you do. Your demeanor should be consistent—the same as it is during your Sabbath School class session: friendly. While in the community, you want to convey the same genuine feelings as in church. Nothing is more disheartening for someone than to see one personality on Sabbath and a completely different personality during the week. Always be real as Christ was real (John 15:12). There are a number of things that you can do to keep that Sabbath closeness with members:

  • Enlist a faithful member to be the class prayer coordinator. This person would keep a running journal of members’ prayer requests, those to be shared with the class and those only for the prayer coordinator’s ears or to be given as unspoken or blanket requests: “Pray for me/Mom/etc.” Prayer is an essential aspect of the Christian experience, and the person chosen should be someone who understands the importance of intercessory and group prayer (Matt. 18:19). The prayer coordinator would also give praise reports, and answers to prayer. This is a way to show how God works His miracles through prayer.
  • Minister by phone. Regularly call a set number of members during the week, each week—just to talk. This type of contact is imperative for members who have not explained their absence.
  • Enlist a member to oversee a card ministry for your class. He or she will maintain a roster of birthdays, anniversaries, and addresses. This coordinator will either bring the cards to Sabbath School far enough in advance to get members’ signatures (best option) or sign the class name.
  • Extended Sabbath School sessions. Inform members of additional class study sessions on Friday night, Sabbath afternoon or evening, and during the week. When the superintendent says, “Teachers, you have five more minutes,” many times the lesson has just gotten to a boiling point and it seems that everyone has something to say! This is the time to announce the additional class strategy session and locations at the church or other sites.
  • Develop hometown service projects. Many Sabbath School classes support additional overseas mission fields. However, individual Sabbath School classes also can develop service endeavors for community organizations, i.e., Boys and Girls Clubs, hospitals, nursing homes, tutorial programs for students from primary grades through college, and language programs (English, Spanish, Yoruba, Japanese, etc.). How uplifting it is to hear praise reports about how God is working in the lives of individuals we can help! Helping others encourages selflessness, allowing us to take our minds off our problems and concentrate on helping others. Helping others makes friends for Christ.
  • Community-based social activities bring a class together. Sabbath lunches and Saturday night activities in the fellowship hall are not the only avenues for building intimacy. Check your community calendar and go online to check out what’s going on in nearby communities: art shows, musical events, craft events, short-term study options at colleges, libraries events, etc. Group attendance can help forge bonds between class members.
  • Start a Sabbath School class newsletter, or have a class member serve as the columnist for your class in the general church newsletter. Rather than have the superintendent round up the news, assign individual class columnists for month-long service. Include anything that members want to share regarding recent accomplishments, business ventures, mission projects, family news, and the like. If no one at your church is computer savvy—yes, this happens—have someone with clear handwriting assemble the news and hire out the word processing and printing. Students are a competent and less expensive resource. If the hire is not a member of your church or even a Seventh-day Adventist, your Sabbath School outreach can begin at the hiree’s news computer. Just be wise about the content of your news.
  • Skills Classes. Let’s imagine that one of your members is an auto mechanic. He (or she) could teach members how to perform simple auto-related tasks: checking the oil level, changing the oil, changing a tire, etc. A member having sewing skills could give beginning sewing lessons. One who knows his or her way around the kitchen might teach a few cooking tricks. Basically, a class can be built around any skill.
  • Exercise classes/craft activities or games-and-sports nights/mornings/afternoons. “It is the privilege and duty of Christians to seek to refresh their spirits and invigorate their bodies by innocent recreation, with the purpose of using their physical and mental powers to the glory of God” (Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home, p. 493). Encourage members to help with the planning.
  • Customized Secret Pals. Members exchange encouragement: Bible verses, poetry, art, greeting cards, inexpensive tokens, etc.

You may have more ideas to add to this list.

Your purpose, as an adult division Sabbath School facilitator, is to lead our community to Christ and help class members gain a richer, fuller, deeper relationship with Him. Everything that you do or say—whether in the church building or out of it—can make lasting impressions on your class members. Your example could possibly determine whether any one member is saved or lost. Using some of the techniques in this lesson can help you to fulfill your purpose.

Dorothy J. Patterson
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Self-Assessment No. 12

  • How do your members know that you are concerned about them and available for social interaction after Sabbath School?
  • What spiritual connections with your members do you maintain during the week?
  • Which of your members have special skills or talents that might be put to use to develop fellowship activities for Sabbath and weekdays?