At the Autumn Council at St. Paul, in 1940, one of the important resolutions before that large and representative gathering was a series of recommendations relating to the Sabbath school and its work. Lively discussion followed a series of recommendations dealing with "missing members." Figures had been given out by the Sabbath School Department, revealing the tragic fact that there are many Seventh-day Adventists and some workers in supposedly "good and regular church standing" who are not members of the Sabbath school.
Is it possible for any Seventh-day Adventist to be in good standing in the church who is not interested enough in the work of the church to be a member of the Sabbath school? Should not every member of the church and each worker in our denominational laboring force be an active member and worker of the Sabbath school? We read this striking statement in Mrs. White's writings: "The Sabbath school work is important, and all who are interested in the truth should endeavor to make it prosperous."—Testimonies on Sabbath School Work, p. 109. That little word all is very comprehensive. It leaves no one out.
I am convinced by observation that there is a growing tendency on the part of some to absent themselves from the Sabbath school. I was impressed with this a few months ago on furlough when I was invited to preach in a church at a certain important center of our work. It was arranged that the pastor pick me up in his car and take me to the church. On Friday evening he informed me that he would call for me a little after ten o'clock. I enquired, "But what about the Sabbath school? When is that held?"
"Oh," he replied, "at the regular time at nine-thirty." Then he added rather apologetically, "I don't usually attend Sabbath school."
To this I responded, "But I do. I have been a regular attendant for fifty-five years." He got me —to Sabbath school, and on time. Yes, all ministers ' and workers should set the example by being regular and punctual attendants at Sabbath school. Their presence is a great example to the flock. But what an example a pastor sets by not being there!
This absentee habit of workers from Sabbath school is becoming altogether too prevalent in some places. The service at the eleven-o'clock hour is and should be very important. But its importance can never take the place and surmount the importance of the Sabbath school lesson.
I confidently believe that the secret of the -Sabbath school "missing members" problem rests largely with pastors, evangelists, and conference officers, including departmental secretaries and all other workers. If every worker in our denomination-wide work were a regular, active attendant at Sabbath school, the problem of missing members would surely be largely if not entirely solved.