Setting Sabbath School Goals and Using Incentives


Setting goals is a good way to focus the mission of your Sabbath School. In some people's experience Sabbath School can become so routine that it loses all its enthusiasm and dynamics. It can seem like Sabbath School is going nowhere fast! One way to help remedy this situation is to set some goals for your Sabbath School. This is not the same as having some goals sent to you from an outside source. This is a matter of setting your own goals as a local Sabbath School. These are the kinds of goals that inspire a feeling of ownership, so they are goals everyone is anxious to accomplish.

Here are two reasons goal-setting works: 1. It allows you to keep track of progress so that you know whether you moved from point A to point B or just sat in one spot spinning your wheels! 2. Goal-setting motivates Sabbath School members to keep things on the move. Otherwise routine takes over, and Sabbath School becomes just another religious exercise.

Maybe Ellen G. White had goal-setting in mind when she wrote: "The prevailing monotony of the religious round of service in our churches needs to be disturbed. . . . The Holy Spirit's power will move upon hearts when this dead, lifeless monotony is broken up" ( Testimonies to Ministers, p. 204).

Here are a couple of ideas on how to set and evaluate goals for your Sabbath School. One word of caution: some of these ideas seem juvenile to some people. They feel that they are above such things. Maybe so, but businesses, political organizations, hospitals, schools, etc., all set goals and objectives. So why not Sabbath School?

Idea No. 1: Set goals for attendance and for the number of ministries your Sabbath School carries out. Use percentages instead of numbers. For instance, you might decide in the Sabbath School Council that you would like your Sabbath School attendance to grow 5 percent in the next year. Figure out how many people that would be, but advertise it as a percentage. For some reason, that seems to make more of an impression on people than numbers do.

Idea No. 2: Develop some progress charts to show how you are doing. There are all kinds of charts. You can use a pie chart, a bar chart, launch a rocket up a bar chart, have little cars run around a race track, have a little man or woman climbing a ladder, etc. Use your imagination and creativity. PowerPoint presentations are helpful for this activity.

You will be amazed at how many people will come alive if you use some of these ideas. These are all innovative ideas that appeal to people.


Incentives are a good way to increase attendance. Here are some ideas that people have used. You have to decide what will work best in your environment.

A fill-the-pew plan. Let's assume your class occupies three pews in the church. Assign a "captain" for each row. That person is responsible for his or her row. The point is to keep the row full on Sabbath morning. If the row holds 10 people and only five show up, it is up to the captain and her or his team to find ways and means of getting five more people there. Change the captain each quarter so everyone gets a chance, or rotate the captains between rows each quarter.

An attendance triangle. Sometimes you have pretty good attendance in your class, but it is not the same people each week! Try an attendance triangle. Divide your class into groups of three. For each trio, make a triangle out of wood or thick cardboard, etc. Put three hooks on the corners of the triangle.

The goal is for each member in each trio to motivate the others to be at Sabbath School. As class members arrive, they hang a card with their name on it on a hook.

A three-find-one plan. Put the names of three class members on a poster (or whatever kind of display board will fit in your class environment) that has room for four names. Leave one of the spaces blank.

The goal is for the three named people to find another person to attend Sabbath School and fill in the blank space. Put a time limit on the project, and announce the time limit when it begins. Make as many posters as needed to include all class members. You can also use this idea to develop an intercessory prayer list. The fourth name is the subject of the prayer.


  • Setting goals helps your Sabbath School to move forward.
  • Using some incentives can increase Sabbath School attendance.
  • Put a time limit on incentives to make them more effective.

© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists