Regardless of a church’s size or their location around the globe, Adult Sabbath School connects us all to the global Seventh-day Adventist Church. Personal Ministries is everyone in the church doing something for Jesus. These are the two ministries of the church that every member can be a part of. Within the Adult Sabbath School program, it is such a privilege to study the same lesson with fellow believers around the world. However, Adult Sabbath School is by no means limited to the lesson and Bible study. While that is a significant part of Adult Sabbath School, we must remember that it is also the avenue through which we connect and fellowship with one another, reach out to our communities, and support world missions. In this way, Adult Sabbath School and Personal Ministries are linked and share many common goals.
Over the past six years, we have sought to strengthen our churches by building up and tapping into the full potential of Adult Sabbath School and Personal Ministries. As it relates more specifically to Adult Sabbath School, what are these four areas?
The best magnet for Adult Sabbath School attendance is a well-taught class with plenty of interaction.
By and large, the most effective promotion of the Adventist mission is through the monthly Mission Spotlight® (formerly Adventist Mission DVD) which can be accessed online or downloaded to your device to share with your class. A few churches have a monthly or quarterly World Mission Sabbath program as well.
We have encouraged Adult Sabbath School classes to intentionally provide time for care-partnering, praying together, and enjoying Sabbath School luncheons and picnics several times each year.
Ellen White observed, “The influence growing out of Sabbath School work should improve and enlarge the church” Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work, page 29). We have encouraged local Sabbath School leaders to “enlarge” or grow their church by inviting neighbors and friends to attend Sabbath School. Also, local churches are invited to multiply the number of Adult Sabbath School classes, a proven way to increase attendance.
During the past six-years the Carolina Conference Adult Sabbath School and Personal Ministries department has provided support in implementing this four-fold approach to Adult Sabbath School and equipped our personal ministries leaders to GROW their local church. A quarterly email newsletter has been created for Adult Sabbath School teachers, superintendents, personal ministry leaders, and elders to make them aware of upcoming events, resources, and tools that can help them be successful in their ministry. Sabbath afternoon seminars have been conducted around the Carolinas in Monroe, Tryon, Elizabeth City, and Charleston. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Adult Sabbath School department provided a live streamed Adult Sabbath School program for several months until churches were able to generate their own online Sabbath School programs.
The four-fold approach to Adult Sabbath School as well as the GROW cycle of evangelism has been featured at the annual, weekend-long seminars at Nosoca Pines Ranch. Featured presenters have included Jim Howard, associate director for Adult Sabbath School and Personal Ministries at the General Conference; Kameron DeVasher, director for Adult Sabbath School and Personal Ministries at the Michigan Conference; Mark Howard, associate director of Adult Sabbath School and Personal Ministries at the Michigan Conference; and Frank Bonderant, vice president for Ministries Development at the Columbia Union. We have had increased numbers at these events and people leave inspired and excited to put into practice the things they have learned.
Our past goals were to get all the churches in the Carolina to adopt and emphasize not just the church at study, but all four areas of Sabbath School. According to our most recent survey, only about one-third of our local churches implemented all four areas; one-third of our churches met three out of the four areas; and one-third of our churches met only two. Having one-third of our churches engaged in every area of Sabbath School is wonderful, but we would like to see 100 percent of our church members receiving the full blessing of Sabbath School.
Because the one-day seminars have been well-received, we intend to continue them in hopes that one will be offered within an hour’s drive of every church to make attendance more feasible.
We are committed to continue quality training weekends at Nosoca Pines Ranch that equip, train, and inspire our Adult Sabbath School leaders.
We will continue to update and equip our leaders through a quarterly newsletter.
We want to continue to challenge our churches to engage in all four areas of Adult Sabbath School and help members see the potential of the Adult Sabbath School program in growing the local church.
We also would like to see a greater awareness of the GROW Cycle of Evangelism in the Carolinas, and for each church to evaluate areas of strength and weakness and strive to fill in the gaps, so that their church may grow for the glory of God in these last days.
May the Lord continue to give us strength and wisdom to accomplish much in His honor.