“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
In a recent Sabbath School workshop that I conducted participants brainstormed the relationship between some proverbs and slogans to the Sabbath School ministry. Here are two.
1. You can’t “sell” a product until you understand how it works.
Review the principles behind the establishment of Sabbath School. Do superintendents, teachers, and students understand the purpose of each section of Sabbath School, such as the program?
Many church members do not understand that the 15- or 20-minute program is part of the education developed by the North American Division Adult Ministries Department. Developers who yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit include heads of other NAD departments and the General Conference Sabbath School Department.
2. Children are afraid of the dark; adults are afraid of the light.
Adults are less open to new concepts. Adults change slowly. In one of our brainstorming sessions, teachers from the Chesapeake and Potomac conferences contributed the following suggestions for making changes more palatable to adult students.
- Start at the top. Get counsel from the Holy Spirit. Dialogue with your pastor and the Sabbath School Council.
- Know your students—their temperaments, their learning styles, preferred communication input preferences, and why each student comes to Sabbath School.
- Include students in the planning.
- Consider your timing. Some students want rapid change; others want gradual change.
- Be honest and humble. Acknowledge limitations. Don’t present any change as a panacea, the only way to go. Attribute all success to the One with the power. Broadcast student contributions.
- Be flexible. Use a “let’s try it and see” approach.
- Model enthusiasm.
- Expect resistance but refuse to fight.
As I have traveled throughout the North American Division, I have been inspired by the tenacity and creativity of our local Sabbath School leaders and their conference directors. Whether the schools are small (as few as nine) or large (multiples of 100), some local Sabbath School ministers spend their money and frequent flier miles for travel and devote their time, including vacation, to participate in every aspect of workshops. We share our experiences, insights, and training. We all leave enriched by the wisdom of co-laborers, wisdom wrapped in silver and gold.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists