When Sabbath morning arrives after a long, hard week, have you ever been tempted to sleep a little longer, barely making it to church on time? Have you rationalized the necessity of showing up at Sabbath School – or even justified your kids missing out on their Sabbath School class? Instead of viewing Sabbath School in a negative light – as just “one more thing to do” – have you ever considered the blessings of participating in this portion of church life?
The first Global Church Member Survey (GCMS) of Adventist church members worldwide demonstrates that the global church understands the benefits of several aspects of Sabbath School. This 2013 survey asked church members to asses both Sabbath School and the adult Bible Study Guide (amongst other things) as tools for spiritual development: over half of the respondents (53%) indicated that the Bible Study Guide helped them “very much” in developing their spiritual life. An additional 22% said that the Bible Study Guide “often” helped them develop their spiritual life. In addition, Sabbath School received the highest ranking of any other tool for spiritual development in seven out of nine surveyed world divisions: more than 50% of respondents indicated that attending Sabbath School helped them “very much” in developing their spiritual lives.
Evidently, Sabbath School offers many benefits that the global church is well aware of: but how often do Seventh-day Adventist church members report taking advantage of this weekly opportunity?
The 2018 version of the GCMS asked worldwide members of the Adventist Church about their Sabbath School attendance habits (Q25.02). Over two-thirds of respondents reported that they attend Sabbath School once a week or more often. An additional 19% reported that they attend Sabbath School almost every week. It is encouraging that a majority (68%) of church members worldwide are attending Sabbath School on a regular basis weekly or more often! However, a small number shared that they only attend Sabbath school once a month, while another 3% admitted that they never attend Sabbath School.
Attending Sabbath School is much more beneficial when members come prepared to discuss the lesson and share their thoughtful, biblical reflections. As part of the same GCMS, members were also asked how often they study the Sabbath School lesson (Q26.03). Over a third of respondents shared that they study the Sabbath School lesson daily or more than once a day. A little over a quarter shared that they study their Sabbath School lesson more than once a week, while 17% study the lesson about once a week. One tenth of respondents only study the lesson less than once a month, and another tenth admitted that they never study the Sabbath School. How wonderful that most (80%) respondents take advantage of the benefit that Sabbath School lesson studying offers.
Consider your own Sabbath School preparation and attendance habits: are you taking advantage of this opportunity for spiritual growth? There are a great many blessings that may be reaped from participating in Sabbath School and sharing the insights gathered from daily study of the Sabbath School lesson—your church community can only be benefited from such individuals who generously invest in their own and their fellow church members’ spiritual development.
For more data on both 2013 and 2018 GCMS read the following presentations by Dr. David Trim from the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research:
Annual Council 2013 Research Report, David Trim
2018 Annual Council – Global Church Member Survey Data Report | [Watch Video]
For more data on Sabbath School read:
2017 Sabbath School Summative Report, David Trim
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.