The Pastor and the Sabbath School

If the pastor were to de­pend entirely upon his own efforts to win souls, the task at times would seem almost hopeless. However, this is not the case in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Sabbath school is especially con­ducive to winning souls.

Pastor, East Pennsylvania Conference

IF THE pastor were to de­pend entirely upon his own efforts to win souls, the task at times would seem almost hopeless. However, this is not the case in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The church is so organized that it gives the pastor many helpers. Every de­partment of the church exists for the pur­pose of winning souls. Each adds its con­tribution to the total church program and the building up of God's kingdom upon the earth.

The Sabbath school is especially con­ducive to winning souls. The pastor should recognize this and capitalize on the various facets of the Sabbath school to enlarge the church membership. It has often been said that the Sabbath school is the church at study. But it is more than this. It can be, and many times is, a baptismal class and an introduction to a more personal relation­ship with Jesus Christ. It is common knowledge that in most mission fields the Sabbath school membership exceeds that of the church. It was my privilege to serve overseas for one term of service. In one mission station the baptized church mem­bership was fifteen, but the Sabbath school membership was two hundred. What a glo­rious opportunity existed there for the win­ning of souls to Jesus!

It goes without saying that the pastor should attend the Sabbath school. Unfortu­nate is the minister who has to miss Sab­bath school because of two preaching serv­ices in the morning. Because most of our churches are not large, the pastor can greet each member as he arrives. This gives the members an opportunity to introduce to the pastor visitors they may bring with them. Knowing who is present will help to guide him in his sermon, and greeting the visitors as they arrive will give the pastor an opportunity to invite them to be in his Sabbath school class. The fact that the min­ister is there to welcome them shows the members that he is interested in the Sab­bath school.

The pastor's work with the Sabbath school should begin in the council meet­ings. There he can guide the affairs of the school without dictating. He should urge the officers to see that the school operates smoothly, that no embarrassing incidents take place that would give an unfavorable impression to visitors. He can let the of­ficers know that he will support them in their program. In the council meetings he can guide in the selection of teachers who will put their best into their teaching. Many times a missing member is ques­tioned about his lack of interest in the Sab­bath school, and the reply is that the teacher does not create interest and the member receives no benefit from the lesson study.

When the teachers have been selected, the pastor can give guidance to them in presenting their lessons. They should be cautioned to use tact, never arguing with the members or visitors. The teachers should be encouraged to present additional facts and thoughts related to the lesson, be­cause most of the members have studied the lesson at least once. The teachers can be reminded that they have the "first chance" with the class members and vis­itors; that is, they can make a good or bad impression on them before the minister presents his sermon.

The pastor will want to have a Sabbath school class. Visitors should be urged to attend this class, and the Sabbath school members should be encouraged to intro­duce any visitors to the pastor if he has not already met them. When there is a likeli­hood of many visitors not of our faith, the new Sabbath school lessons for the pastor's class are helpful. These do not follow the regular lessons, but contain the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. Some of the less-informed members of the church can be put into this class so their faith can be strengthened, and they will thus form a nucleus for the class. If non-Adventist vis­itors attend this class regularly, they can be led step by step into the message.

One of the most fruitful phases of the Sabbath school is the branch Sabbath school. This can be conducted in a variety of places. If members live some distance from the church and cannot attend regu­larly, they should be encouraged to have a branch Sabbath school in their homes, or some other suitable place. If this is held in the afternoon, the pastor or other mem­bers of the church can assist. Sometimes after a series of Bible studies there are still some in the community who are interested but who have not been baptized. This pro­vides an excellent opportunity for a branch Sabbath school. I had this experience a few years ago. I had baptized several people as a result of personal work in the community, and as the new members lived about sixty miles from the church, a branch school was organized in one of the homes. I took lay­men from the church to carry on the school when I could not attend. After a few weeks I left that district, and three weeks after my departure, nine souls were baptized from this branch Sabbath school.

Another avenue of soul winning in the Sabbath school is the Vacation Bible School. To most people their children are their dearest possessions. If an interest is taken in the children, it will be easier to reach the parents. Many baptisms have re­sulted from the follow-up of a Vacation Bible School. Sabbath school members and church school pupils have been secured also as a result of Vacation Bible Schools. Fortunate is the pastor who can conduct an evangelistic campaign in the same loca­tion immediately following a Vacation Bi­ble School. The children can serve as ad­vertisers for the meetings.

This year, when the General Conference has asked all departments to be especially evangelistic, the Sabbath school should be geared to use every means for the winning of souls. The pastor can use this depart­ment to distinct advantage, not by dictat­ing to the Sabbath school officers but by guiding them. He should let them know that he is vitally interested in their work and will give them every support.

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Pastor, East Pennsylvania Conference

October 1961

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