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The Four Focuses of Sabbath School (by Gary Swanson)
- be together and learn about our Saviour Jesus Christ;
- study the Bible;
- get to know each other, the community and the world around us.
Apart from Bible Study, part of the Sabbath School time is devoted to friendship, getting to know each other better and praying for each other.
There are many ways to encourage relationships to grow within the Sabbath School family. Some ideas for nurturing friendships are available below to help Sabbath School leaders develop a safe environment for people to share their thoughts openly with each other.
Characteristics of a vibrant Sabbath School include:
- Praying for each other every day, not just when your group meets.
- Making each other feel welcome and at home, greeting them warmly and using their first names.
- Making contact with each other at least once a week by either visiting or calling each other.
- Listen to each other; hear the needs of each individual.
You may pick up on something where the individual may need some special support. For example, a group member may mention that they have a really busy week ahead. You could make up a big pot of vegetable soup and buy some fresh bread rolls for them.
- Spend time with each other outside of the Sabbath School time.
Be enthusiastic about spending time together by organising a lunch or a picnic, or arrange a friendly game of volleyball.
- Be positive and encouraging.
Phone them, just a quick call to say 'hi' and ask how their week is going. Encourage all Sabbath School members to give friendly, warm greetings to newcomers. Invite them to any Sabbath afternoon activities.
- Find out the birthdays of your Sabbath School class members.
Organise a card for everyone in the Sabbath School to sign and surprise them with the card on the Sabbath before their birthday. Maybe even bake a cake – everyone loves cake!
Mention achievements or milestones such as graduations, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, new jobs, etc
- Organise service projects and reach out to your community.
Have a service project where your Sabbath School group can work together, get to know each other better and help others at the same time.
See below for some suggestions -
- Start a Bible study group for seekers to meet sometime during the week, like on a Wednesday night.
- Create a welcoming environment at your church, with hot drinks and biscuits.
- Plan out the theme or topic several weeks in advance.
- Make free Bibles available to visitors.
- Volunteer your time at a local Bible correspondence school.
- Get involved in a StormCo Project
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or start one in your local community.
- Offer assistance to elderly and those with physical limitations by helping them with lawn mowing, raking leaves, driving them to the shops, to the doctor or to church.
- Visit the residents of local retirement and nursing homes.
- Any kind of volunteer work. You can call your local council and find out if they need any help.
- Clean out your wardrobes and book shelves and donate what you don't need to a local charity.
- If you belong to a large congregation, organise for your Sabbath School class to adopt a small church and offer to take a Sabbath School for them. Make it something special!
- As a class, identify a need in your community. For example, a church member may have just returned home from a stay in hospital, you could pool your financial resources to purchase a basket of grocery items for them.
- Put a prayer requests box in the foyer of your church. Supply paper and pens. Share the requests with the Sabbath School every week.
- Assign 'prayer warriors' to pray for specific things or people.
- Get members of your Sabbath School to keep a prayer journal, noting answers to prayers. Remember to thank God for answered prayers.
- Identify a week or month to pray specifically for local community services such as the Police or Fire brigade. Write to them in advance, thank them for what they do and invite them to send in any special prayer requests.
- Create an e-prayer network. Get the email addresses of those who want to be involved so that if urgent prayer needs arise, you can email the group with the need.
How often do you thank the people in your community?
Can you remember the last time you thanked -
- Your pastor?
- The church treasurer?
- The person that packs your groceries?
- The guy that pumps petrol in your car?
- The person that empties your bins (at home or in the office)?
- The person that opens the door for you?
- Check-out attendants?
- Security guards?
Can you think of more?
Get to know the names of the people that you come into contact with everyday.
Do you get your sandwich made at the same place every day? You could find out the person's name and when you thank them, use their name – you'll make their day.
As a class, write thank you cards to people in your church or neighbourhood who faithfully do the things that need to be done, but no one ever notices or acknowledges them.