And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.– Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
Have you ever tried to describe a place you have never visited? Have you ever tried to explain the taste of something you have never eaten?
As Christians, our ultimate purpose on earth is to bring glory to God. Our every action should reflect this purpose, our every word echo this mission. However, if we do not come to know Jesus on a personal level, how then can we truly bring glory to Him or share His goodness with others? It would be just as hard to do that – even harder, in fact – than to describe an unseen place or not yet tasted food.
Our last blog covered the impact that dedicated, invested Sabbath School teachers can have on building a stronger church, but what of the actual content in the Sabbath School lessons? Is that helping church members improve their religious life and ultimately, draw closer to Jesus?
In a recent study (2013) conducted by the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, global church members were asked about factors which have helped develop their religious lives. Specifically, they were asked to assess Sabbath School, the adult Bible study guide, church worship service, personal prayer and Bible study, and family worship. Over half of respondents (53%) indicated that the adult Bible Study Guide “very much” helped them develop their spiritual life, with another 22% indicating that the adult Bible Study Guide “often” helped them develop their spiritual life.
When separated out by division, in seven out of the nine divisions, more than 50% of respondents gave Sabbath School the highest ranking of any of the survey items, indicating that Sabbath School helped “very much” in developing their spiritual lives.
As you can see, a strong, meaningful Sabbath School program combined with a Christ-centered curriculum is central for helping members develop a strong, personal relationship with Jesus and thereby developing a stronger Church.
When you consider your own church body, do you feel as though your Sabbath School program “measures up” to these expectations, or is there room for growth? If you feel there is room for growth, here are some ideas to strengthen your Sabbath School program.
- Train lay leaders. It is important to remember that not all Sabbath School leaders have a background in teaching. While the adult Bible study guide might seem clear-cut to those who have a background in theology or who have taken teaching/preaching classes, this may seem daunting to those who do not. If you feel that your lay leaders are not utilizing the Bible study guide to it’s fullest, arrange a training to better equip them to lead.
- Offer encouragement and support. There are many times that church volunteers go unnoticed and unappreciated. Take the time to offer encouragement to lay leaders – specifically your Sabbath School teachers, reminding them of the important work God has asked them to do. Similarly, offer support if you see lay leaders becoming discouraged or approaching burn out. Sometimes, the smallest bit of reassurance and support can give a person the motivation to push forward.
- Encourage Sabbath School attendance. As we saw in our last blog, research shows that relationships developed in Sabbath School – specifically with Sabbath School leaders – are important impacting church members’ spiritual lives. While studying the adult Bible study guide is helpful, unpacking it in and learning more about Jesus in a group setting under the careful tutelage of a Sabbath School teacher may enhance one’s understanding of the Bible in new, exciting ways.
There can be no denying the importance of utilizing a strong Sabbath School program, as well as the adult Bible study guide, to it’s full potential; the research is clear on this. These tools can be instrumental in leading others – church members, new Christians, and nonbelievers alike – to Jesus. And nothing gives glory to God in the same way as a life committed to Him and His Kingdom!
For more information, check out Seventh-day Adventist Global Data Picture.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.