Activate Your Evangelistic Center

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify evangelistic activities of the Sabbath School.
  • Describe the buddy system of evangelism.
  • Explain how to organize friendship evangelism.
  • List and explain six elements of a small group Sabbath School evangelistic unit.

The Sabbath School has been designed for soul winning. Ellen White clearly stated that “the object of Sabbath school work should be the ingathering of souls. . . . If the children and youth are not brought to Christ, the school is a failure” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 61). We are further instructed that the Sabbath School, if rightly conducted, is one of the greatest instrumentalities, and the most effectual in bringing souls to a knowledge of the truth (see ibid., p. 10).

“Evangelistic work, opening the Scriptures to others, warning men and women of what is coming upon the world, is to occupy more and still more of the time of God’s servants” (Review and Herald, Aug. 2, 1906). The Sabbath School class is an ideal place for evangelistic activities, because members can be trained in the classes to do effective evangelistic work. Here are some suggestions to jump-start your planning sessions with your members.

The Buddy System

An experienced Sabbath School member can be teamed up with a new, inexperienced member, and the two can do evangelistic activity together. The Sabbath School class is encouraged to develop a list of prospects (relatives, friends, and acquaintances), and the names and contact information are given to each team. The teams will visit these prospects, invite them to Sabbath School, and ascertain their interest for Bible study. This method of evangelism is endorsed by Sister White. She stated: “There should always be two and two of our brethren to go out together, and then as many more as they can rally to engage in the work of visiting and seeking to interest families, making personal efforts” ( Evangelism, p. 437).

Another method of organizing the Buddy System is to ask Sabbath School members how they joined the church. Then explain that about 80 percent of church members are introduced to the church through relatives or friends. The Sabbath School can prepare a prospect form and distribute it to each class member.

Members are asked to list four persons in each category with whom they would like to share Christ. When these lists are finalized, three or four names can be assigned to each buddy team. These lists can be used for ongoing Sabbath School evangelism, such as Community Guest Day.

Did you know that most relatives and friends of newly baptized members are not church members but, after a while, they start forming friendships in the church? It is important then to get new members active in evangelism so that they can witness to their relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

Making Friends for Christ

“The Sabbath school, if rightly conducted, is one of God’s great instrumentalities to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth” ( Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 115). As well as energetically carrying on Sabbath School evangelism, the officers, facilitators, and the entire Sabbath School membership should cooperate with the other departments’ outreach (missionary) work and activities.

  • Each class can define areas where members can develop friendships: libraries, community clubs and associations, fire or police department personnel, neighbors, members of sports teams, and people involved in specific volunteer activities, e.g., the Cancer Fund, United Way.
  • Make a list of five individuals and begin praying for them. Initiate a relationship by identifying common interests, especially religious interest. Then take your time in developing the friendship.

It is believed that 80 percent of new members remain loyal because of friendships. One evangelist maintains that each new member needs six friends within the congregation. Also it has been reported that 88 percent of new members in the Seventh-day Adventist Church had their first contact through a friend.

George Barna sets us on a straight course. He says, “Although it is true that nearly half of all adults indicate that they become annoyed when someone tries to share religious beliefs with them, we also have discovered that when these same annoyed individuals have an evangelistic conversion with a family member, close friend or trusted associate they are not annoyed” ( Evangelism That Works, p. 72).

Small Groups

Small group Sabbath School classes can provide organized and continuous training in Sabbath School. The Sabbath School evangelistic unit originally developed by Calvin Smith is a plan to get all Sabbath School members involved in soul-winning endeavors. Here are some elements of that framework.

  • For maximum participation, Sabbath School classes are formed in groups of from 6 to 8 people.
  • Plans for church inreach and community outreach are developed at a special planning session, immediately after class organization. Monthly evaluation meetings are put on the calendar at this time.
  • Each class has an outreach leader and secretary who promote and track outreach that has been planned by the class.
  • Each week in the class before lesson discussion, 5-7 minutes are dedicated to discussing outreach.
  • Include time to welcome all attendees, take the record, arrange for sending greeting cards, telephoning, and visiting absent and sick members.
  • Promote class plans and goals.
  • Give visitation assignments and arrange for on-the-job ministry training where needed.
  • Have special prayers for people who have expressed interest in the Sabbath School, church, or church doctrines as well as for outreach plans and goals.

Weekly Checkpoints

Outreach leaders meet with personal ministries leaders, Sabbath School coordinators, and the pastor or an elder to pray for their outreach, encourage one another, and strengthen their coordinated efforts. These meetings eventually give way to monthly appointments.

Monthly Feedback

  • Give class leaders the opportunity to share their successes before the entire Sabbath School. This especially encourages the weak classes.
  • Encourage and help organize meetings in the homes of members. These gatherings build trust, fellowship, and organizational systems in a casual atmosphere.
  • Meetings to plan and facilitate evaluating progress are also held in the homes of class members.

Challenge each member to get involved in Buddy System Evangelism, Friendship Evangelism, to join or establish evangelistic classes, or be involved in other forms of evangelism. Show them that soul winning is the lifeblood of the church.

The Sabbath School Committee helps plan and support:

  • Community Guest Days
  • Decision Days and Consecration Services
  • Friendship Evangelism
  • Bible Study classes
  • Vacation Bible Schools
  • Branch Sabbath Schools
  • Visitation teams

What would happen if every active Sabbath School member worked equally hard with the pastor, encouraging and reaching out to community members? Surely there will be growth in membership, and members will be kept active in the Sabbath School.

Janice Emmanuel-Bunn
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists


  • Why is the Sabbath School the evangelistic center of the local church?
  • Explain the differences and similarities between buddy system evangelism and friendship evangelism?
  • Why is it important to get every Sabbath School member involved in evangelism?
  • What methods have worked for you and others that you can incorporate into your program?

On a scale from 1 to 5, rate your Sabbath School as an evangelistic center for your church. (1= needs improvement, 2= average, 3= good, 4= very good, 5= excellent)

  • Members understand and implement Buddy System Evangelism.    

               1    2    3    4    5

  • Sabbath School members are involved in Friendship Evangelism.    

               1    2    3    4    5

  • Members use class time to strategize and share outreach activities.     

               1    2     3    4    5

  • Your Sabbath School Council facilitates whole-church support.    

               1    2    3    4    5