You were voted by your church family, or you volunteered, to facilitate a Sabbath School class. This was not an accident. The Holy Spirit places the ministry to facilitate in the heart. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:11, 12: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (KJV).
To facilitate is a gift that is bestowed upon the person who will accept it. The Encarta Dictionary describes the word “bestowed” as “to present something, especially something valuable or undeserved, to somebody.”
Parker J. Palmer, senior associate of the American Association for Higher Education and author of The Courage to Teach, says: “Becoming aware of our gifts can help us teach more consistently” (p. 69).
The realization of the gift to facilitate that God has placed upon you should motivate you to be consistent in study and in finding ways to be creative. Parker says that the gift of facilitation should create the following:
- 1. A Participant Focus: A capacity to combine structure of intentionality with flexibility in both planning and leading the class. Be intentional about giving sufficient time for class members to share how they applied and shared the material during the week rather than getting bogged down in an exchange of facts.
- 2. A Wide Knowledge Base. Thorough knowledge of the material that is being taught. The Sabbath School facilitator should be familiar with more than the material found in the Sabbath School quarterly.
- 3. A Conduit. A desire to help students build a bridge between the academic text and their own lives and a strategic approach for doing so. The lesson should not be abstract; it should be a living lesson that can be applied to the learners’ everyday lives. The lesson must be a living presentation, words in action. Life applications are very important for learners. (The Courage to Teach, p. 69.)
Metaphorically, the following text found in Exodus 31:3 describes what God does for the facilitator on Sabbath morning. God filled the builders with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. The builders are the facilitators, and facilitation is workmanship. Your facilitation should be of the highest quality as you stand before your class. “Study to [show] thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV). Imagine that! God has promised to fill you with the Holy Spirit so that you will receive wisdom, understanding, and knowledge to enhance your Sabbath School facilitation ministry.
The interaction between the facilitator, participants, and the Holy Spirit is evident. Being a Sabbath School facilitator is a calling that can be effective only through the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the tools to enthusiastically facilitate and reach others for His service. You are not just facilitating; you are building character through the facilitation of the Sabbath School lesson each week. A quality Sabbath School facilitator wisely allows the Holy Spirit to guide the study, themselves, and the participants.
Janice Johnson Browne
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists