Notes for the Conductor

The Sabbath School superintendent is like the conductor of a band. He or she can elicit good music only when all the instruments (goals and plans) are tuned and all the players (team members) are trained, oriented, and engaged.

Previous experience in a ministry or in a different congregation is not an equitable substitute for orientation and training for leadership in the new church home, under the leadership of a new superintendent, or under a superintendent who has received additional training.

Broken Strings, Etc. 

Why is the Sabbath School band off key?

  • Team members are left to rely on what they know. This is a survival technique that temporarily rewards them. It rewards them for bringing old, possibly unsuccessful Sabbath School methods into a new congregation or for clinging to methods that just won’t work in the new environment.
  • Team members are not mentored about how to successfully integrate their past success into the Sabbath School ministry or the culture of their new church. They are left to learn or unlearn in the school of hard knocks. And in the fray the Sabbath School members usually receive the brunt of the pain.
  • Team members are deprived of new insights and skills that would make their ministry more successful, e.g., more productive, more fulfilling personally, or easier.
  • Team members are left to cultivate skills that superficially cover confusion or ignorance.
  • Team members are encouraged not to ask questions, a practice that encourages error and confusion.
  • Team members are allowed to believe that the superintendent is not accessible and cannot be considered a source of information.
  • Team members learn that the only value to their ministry is its future value as a jumping-off point to a more fulfilling and less confusing position in the church.

Strike Up the Band 

How the band plays on:

  • New team members go through orientation very soon after accepting their ministry. New superintendents very quickly arrange team orientation and training.
  • Training is encouraged and facilitated. Every member is charged with bringing something to the table, because fine-tuning never ends.
  • All team members recognize that a smooth transition, whether for one new member or the entire group, is never quiet. Harmony is the end product:
  • Assimilation
  • Change
  • Adjustment
  • Insecurity
  • Confusion
  • Harmony
  • The entire ministry team comes together on a planned schedule to share the experiences and insights that any member learns at any training session, church-directed or secular.  Then the entire team can brainstorm how the skills and insights may be applicable to the Sabbath School ministry and their own church culture.

Orientation and training are like rehearsals. They keep the team productively engaged, learning to blend talents, making music. This is also the method by which Sabbath School teams have constructed options that increase Sabbath School membership within the traditional structure or by increasing their repertoire. This is how “the band plays on.” And that’s the work of the conductor, the superintendent.


© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists