Be on Task for Outreach

Ionia, Michigan
Staying on task for outreach is a goal of the Ionia, Michigan, Sabbath School. Here’s a partial list of activities.

Literature Distribution. Each student places a booklet on the doorstep of 10 homes each week, personally gives from three to five pieces of literature out each week, and participates in mass mailings of Bible studies.

Gary Emelander stocked a book rack with a “Free Literature” sign in stores in the Belding, Michigan, area for one week each. Chuck Rittersdorf took the booklet “Hellfire” from the rack and mailed in the request card for Bible studies.

Gary Knowlton gave Chuck studies and his friendship. Chuck was baptized.

Gisela Knowlton gave Bible studies as well as her friendship to Mary, an atheist. Mary was baptized a year later.

Gary Emelander put a book rack in a laundromat. The owner read every book and then started attending the Spanish church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He sold his business because he didn’t want to keep it open on Sabbaths.

Gary Emelander mass mailed copies of the “National Sunday Law” pamphlet in the Belding area. Bobbie Sparks, a Sunday school teacher, received a copy. She wrote the author, who asked Gary to contact Bobbie. Gary took Chuck with him to the Sparkses’ home to learn how to give Bible studies.

Each week Chuck gave George and Bobbie Sparks a Bible study on Revelation, while Gary sat in for support. George and Bobbie were baptized.

Student Sponsorship. A neighbor, Bobby, was caught vandalizing the Ionia church. His “punishment” was to help one of the elders clean the church on a weekly basis. Bobby soon wanted to attend the church school, but his parents said they would not pay any money for him to attend private school. So the Sabbath School Action Unit members each paid $10 a month for Bobby’s tuition.

A Missing Member Visitation Program. Each Sabbath School class was asked to choose people to visit and pray for from the missing member list.

Dale Baker visited the Hampshires who had not attended church in more than 20 years. The next week the Hampshires were in church, and they attend regularly.

Lynn Rogers had not attended church in 14 years. Charlotte Widner visited him in the hospital. He told her, “I’ve been out of the church so long, I don’t know what I believe anymore.” So they studied together while he was hospitalized. Lynn requested membership through profession of faith, and a few weeks later he died in the hospital. Charlotte stated that she never would have visited Lynn if the Sabbath School Action Units had not been emphasizing outreach to missing members.

Sabbath School members hand-deliver 40 Signs of the Times magazines to missing members each month and serve as their spiritual guardians.

Prison Ministry. For one year one Sabbath School class conducted a Branch Sabbath School in the Michigan Reformatory Dormitory, a minimum security prison.

Jay Parker picked up the ball by starting a personal program of regularly visiting prisoners and writing to them.

Steve Robinson and his wife joined the prison ministry outreach and maintain a writing project in which they nurture more than 40 inmates each month.

Prayer. Class members develop a prayer list and pray in pairs on Sabbath mornings and throughout the week.

Our methods:
The Ionia church has 190 members, and approximately 40 percent of the adult members attend Sabbath School regularly and on time. How do we achieve such success in outreach?

Once a year classes plan their outreach in the areas of literature distribution, new member nurture, missing member outreach, community outreach, foreign missions, and NET ‘98. Each month thereafter members meet both to evaluate the progress of each project and to fellowship.

Although the Ionia church was the first church in the North American Division to adopt Sabbath School Action Units, our Sabbath School members can also become complacent. Only by setting short-term and long-term goals and seeing them through to completion can we meet the Sabbath School mission of outreach.

Michael Fracker
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists