Too Many Chiefs!

Question: We have a problem of too many “chiefs” having their own agendas that are very often not related to the mission of the Sabbath School. How do we solve that?

Answer: This is an age-old problem. We can only wish that there was a quick, easy solution.

Sometimes the problem is that the Sabbath School leadership is simply uninformed about available resources, and their attempts to do something dynamic and creative come across as wanting to be the chief.

Sometimes it happens because a strong-willed individual wants to be the boss. It is always a serious problem for a local church when an individual personality is allowed to override the mission of the church, and only the local congregation can resolve its own situation. Ideally, the Church Manual recommends that nominating committees interview prospective church leaders to make sure they understand their positions before they agree to serve, though in practice this is seldom done.

There is a difference between personal creativity and personal agendas. There is no obligatory way in which Sabbath School is supposed to be conducted, and it’s always desirable that Sabbath School leadership teams have creative and innovative ideas. There are many resources and ideas available to help produce dynamic Sabbath Schools.

On the other hand, a personal agenda not related to the mission of the Sabbath School has no place in Sabbath School. A person with such an agenda is perfectly free to pursue it as they wish, but not in Sabbath School. Sabbath School is not a forum for personal ideas. It is part of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church and, as such, cooperates with the overall mission of the church. It has a stated purpose and many resources to accomplish that purpose. If an individual wishes to invent and operate his or her own version of Sabbath School, he or she should do it at a time and place other than that of the established Sabbath School of the church.

From an organizational perspective, there are well-thought-out ways and means for organizing Sabbath School that are outlined in the Sabbath School Handbook and the Church Manual. Unfortunately, many Sabbath School leaders don’t even know these resources exist. AdventSource, the North American Division resource facility, publishes a free catalog of Sabbath School resources. (Call 1-800-328-0525 and ask for the Adult Sabbath School Catalog.) At you can download the Sabbath School Handbook and two pamphlets that have to do with Sabbath School organization: “Sabbath School Superintendent” and “Sabbath School Organization.”

In summary: Personal creativity is one thing; a personal agenda is another. The first belongs in Sabbath School; the second does not.

© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists