Powerful Quotes and Summaries

A conscientious communications teacher once decided to apply a “last measure” for a student who seemed not to be absorbing the concept of past participles. After class, he asked the student to stay and write “I have written” 100 times. The boy complied faithfully. After the hundredth sentence, he wrote in big letters, “I have written,” and “I have went home.”

This story raises questions: Do Sabbath School class members absorb and internalize important concepts from the lesson discussion? What happens after Sabbath School? Do your members apply life-and-death principles gained in the lesson to their daily lives? How can the Sabbath School class glean important concepts for members to digest in such a limited time? How can the facilitator enhance understanding of the lesson?

I suggest two powerful tools to meet the needs these questions imply:

  1. Quoting. 
  2. Summarizing.  
Quoting. We use the exact words of a source to: strengthen our argument, emphasize key concepts/principles, and compare and contrast ideas. Reading passages aloud from the Bible and sources related to key principles helps members internalize and, to some extent, memorize the texts. Be sure to acknowledge the source of quoted materials.

Summarizing. We put the main ideas in our own words. We summarize to provide a background overview of the topic, reduce many quotations, and underscore important points in the discussion. One caution: When reducing the original content, retain the original meaning.

When carefully prepared, summaries are powerful tools for instilling vital ideas for real-life applications. The following strategies can help:

  • Read the lesson at least five times during the week. Friday night cramming won’t suffice.
  • Glean important passages using the daily title as a guide.
  • Focus on the text, highlighting descriptive words.
  • Imagine what the text or passage is describing or conveying.
  • Read the passage again, periodically looking away from the lesson quarterly.
  • Close the quarterly and write the main points. Use synonyms to state these points in your own words.
  • Return to the original. Compare your summary with the original. Make sure your summary correctly gives what the original states.


“Mammon is the idol of many. The love of money, the desire for wealth, is the golden chain that binds them to Satan. Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class. The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others. But these slavish bands must be broken. We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s children unless we are such entirely” (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 44).
Step 1 Key words and phrases: Love of money, desire for wealth, reputation, chain to Satan, worldly honor, worship, idol, selfish ease, freedom from responsibility, must be broken, entirely God’s children.
Step 2 Ask: What main idea is the passage giving?
Step 3 Read the passage again.
Step 4 Write the main points/your summary: Many people worship Satan through (a) desire and love for riches, (b) pride and worldly honor, and (c) “comfortable” living, disregarding God’s instructions. God’s children must be willing to give up all these and be totally committed to Him.
Step 5 Compare this summary with the original, making sure the idea the author wishes to convey is correctly expressed.

Powerful summaries make important points stay in the members’ minds and elicit appropriate actions or behaviors. 

Enhance Your Summaries:

  • Use a thought-provoking statement or question.
  • Challenge your members to action.
  • Lead participants to a stronger and sustained commitment to be faithful to God and share their faith with those who have not yet accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Answer Challenging Questions

  • How can Sabbath School class members absorb and internalize important concepts from the lesson discussion in such limited time?
  • How can Sabbath morning participants apply life-and-death principles gained in the lesson to their daily life? How can the facilitator enhance understanding of the lesson?


Using the passage on page 24 your parting summary could be one of these:

  • A thought-provoking question: In our daily choices and living, do we still want what the world offers while pretending to obey God?
  • A challenge to action, e.g., sharing: God wants us to give Him not only a part of us, but our all. Are we willing to give up whatever hinders us from totally submitting to Him, living His life so that others who have not accepted Christ may be led to Him?

Eppie A. Manalo
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists