I arrived early for Sabbath School because I love Sabbath School and could hardly wait to meet my new Sabbath School class in Ethiopia. I sat and watched as people came into the room. The only Sabbath School class was populated by older and younger adults, males and females. Visitors from around the world were present. I was curious to see how the Sabbath School program and study would progress in this less-than-formal-looking classroom.
People were cramped together, and the tables and chairs engulfed more space. I later learned that the tables and chairs added to the Ethiopian sense of classroom learning. Ethiopians value education in both secular and Sabbath School settings. Also the room was L-shaped, making it difficult to see half of the participants.
Even though the layout was not what a class facilitator would consider the ideal, it was clean, well ventilated, and fairly well lit. I pondered how to surmount the odds in order to maintain interest and encourage learning. However, I soon realized that it was not the shape, size, or type of room that made a Sabbath School class spiritual, uplifting, and exciting. The enthusiasm of the facilitator, transmitted to the participants by the anointing presence of the Holy Spirit, was the key. There will always be a variety of personalities and the space may be less than appropriate for a classroom setting, yet the learning and participation can be incredible!
The Holy Spirit-filled Facilitator
The facilitator exhibited the following characteristics that totally transformed that “L”-shaped room into a spiritual learning center for the Word of God.
- She began by asking for the Holy Spirit’s presence, because He must be invited.
- She was well-studied in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide material and other resources.
- Long passages were not read as part of the lesson.
- She moved easily around the room to see everyone and be seen by everyone.
- Everyone was involved; she did not preach or do most of the talking.
- She was a good listener who allowed the thoughts of others about the lesson to be expressed.
- She complimented or responded positively to participants’ answers or comments. This boosted their level of confidence and increased participation. The interaction between the Holy Spirit, facilitator, and participants showed in the quality and measure of the interactions in that classroom.
- She was blessed by the Holy Spirit with a good memory for names and called each person by their name—one of the sweetest sounds on earth!
- She knew her participants and their learning styles. She called on some and allowed others to volunteer.
- Her energy and enthusiasm about the study quickly infected her participants.
- At the end of the class she prayed, “Holy Spirit, thanks for coming. We will see You next week.”
The Holy Spirit gives us the tools to enthusiastically reach and teach in His service, so facilitators can build character through classroom interactions each week.
- Facilitation is workmanship—Exodus 31:3; 2 Timothy 2:15.
- Facilitation is ministry—Ephesians 4:11, 12.
Janice Johnson Browne
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists