by Kathy Marson
SPOKANE, Wash., November 24, 2014 - If you have noticed fewer young people in your church or a declining church attendance, or even less offerings collected for missions, the answer might be to revitalize Sabbath School. Finding the path to a healthier church might be as simple as sharing some stories of what your church is doing that works so that others can glean from what your church is doing.
Dale Galusha, of Pacific Press says, “We all want to see our churches growing and thriving. But a topic that is often absent from these discussions is the issue of Sabbath School. While we don’t talk about these trends publicly, there are often comments made in the hallways or over the dinner table such as: “Sabbath School is dead. You could have fired a cannon through the sanctuary and not hit anyone; and I’m not sure I would go to Sabbath School if I weren’t a church leader.”
According to a study on Sabbath School attendance by the Department of Church Ministries, in 1960, Sabbath School attendance was over 80 percent of the book membership of the NAD. In 2010, a study of 212 randomly selected churches in the NAD estimated Sabbath School attendance to be about 25 percent.”
Conversely, a success story shared at a weekend seminar by J Alfred Johnson reveals that in Bowie, MD they had 300 members on their books but had 600 attending Sabbath School each week with 80 percent of them under 40 years of age. They used four elements: Bible study, community outreach, fellowship and nurture, and world mission emphasis. They also stressed these are not classes with teachers but family reunions led by facilitators.
Ellen White writes, “The Sabbath school work is important, and all who are interested in the truth should endeavor to make it prosperous” Councils on Sabbath School Work, p. 9.
How are Sabbath Schools in your neck of the woods? Do you have a success story to share or are you working on making your Sabbath School better? The first step toward fixing a problem is acknowledging it and then move forward. We hope to start your ideas and creative juices flowing. Let’s have a conversation about Sabbath Schools and healthy churches.
John Stanton who is director of personal ministries and Sabbath School welcomes your suggestions and ideas on Sabbath School. Also Patty Marsh who is the children's Sabbath School coordinator welcomes any suggestions or stories of how your children's programs are doing. Contact UCC at 509-838-2761.