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Sabbath School Leaders in Inter-America Commit To Strengthening Discipleship Focus – Seventh-day Adventist Church


October 22, 2020 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Ever since it was instituted in the 1850s, Sabbath School has been a banner ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Sabbath School focuses on bible study, prayer, fellowship and missions—expanding the church around the world. That mission hasn’t changed for more than 180 years, but its purpose and goal must be understood by church leaders and members today, church leaders said.

With Sabbath school attendance dwindling during the past decades all across the world, leaders want Sabbath school classes to be revitalized and for church members to realize the opportunity that Sabbath School gives them to grow spiritually as disciples of Jesus.

Sabbath school as an experience

It’s not just about nurturing believers by studying the bible and praying together, but about experiencing an unspeakable joy that needs to be shared, said Pastor Ramon Canals, Sabbath School director for the Adventist world church. Canals was speaking to dozens of Sabbath school directors during a recent online advisory meeting with regional directors across the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory on Oct. 15, 2020.

Pastor Ramon Canals, Sabbath school director for the Adventist world church speaks to church leaders and directors about the new Sabbath School Alive! vision, during Inter-America’s advisory meeting, Oct. 15, 2020. [Photo: IAD Screenshot]

“Sabbath School must be the happiest environment where we can encounter Jesus Christ,” said Canals. “We need to be alive in Jesus as we preach the messages of the Three Angels, as we live to glorify God, to please God, to bear fruit, to grow in knowledge, be strong in God, and in joyful gratitude.”

Canals introduced the Adventist world church’s new Sabbath School Alive! vision which aligns itself with the church’s  I Will Go initiative. I Will Go is a call to personal involvement in the mission of the church, for the next five years. Sabbath School Alive! is a worldwide initiative of the General Conference Sabbath School and Personal Ministries department helping local churches to rediscover the power and purpose of Sabbath School.  The initiative includes helpful plans, resources, tools and tips to revitalize Sabbath school in the local church.

“Sabbath school is simply about studying the Word of God, worshipping together and witnessing—the essence of the gospel,” said Canals. The point is that growth can only happen when members are involved in soul-winning and that’s part of the purpose of Sabbath school, he explained. It’s time to refocus on that, Canals added.

Intentional discipleship program

That refocus is going to include an intentional discipleship program coined as the Grow Discipleship program that the church has available for churches to help local churches in the mission of making disciples.

Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath school director for the church in Inter-America, goes over the strategic plan to follow in teh department for the next five years.[Photo: IAD Screenshot]

Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath school director for the church in In Inter-America, said that school union leaders have already began intensive training in the new refocus for the ministries. It was the kind of training that took a turn once the coronavirus hit the world and forced churches to close and rely on zoom meetings and social media platforms to carry out the Sabbath school ministries with the shortest possible interruption possible.

“We took to surveying all our union territories studying the challenges and issues and developed 12 brand new seminars for the retraining of sabbath school in a more contextualized way with the pandemic crisis plan,” said Telemaque. Seminars dealt with how to lead in Sabbath school, how to teach the class, how to design programs through uncertain times of crisis, among others.

Training, witnessing, and community service

It takes new ways of understanding, new skills in this time of crisis and so far it has proven to be helpful across nearly half of the unions which have held comprehensive online training during the past six months, explained Telemaque. “By acquiring new knowledge, new skills and new attitudes, members will obtain a holistic education to serve their communities and be able to live in readiness for the coming of Jesus,” he said.

The new strategic plan will focus on three main areas for the next five years: evangelism, education, and community service. One of the goals of the plan is to increase Sabbath School membership by 50 percent. According to the latest statistics there are more than 2.2 million church members who are part of Sabbath school classes and the goal is to increase that membership by one million more as part of the witnessing program in the ministries, said Telemaque.

Anita Rodriguez of the Inter-American Division Publishing Association presents several available resources to assist Sabbath school leaders and teachers [Photo: IAD Screenshot]

In addition, plans are to encourage each member to acquire their quarterly bible study guides, get 90 percent of Sabbath school members to be in studying the bible regularly, as well as the training of Sabbath School teachers, directors and Sabbath school superintendents across local churches, among others.

The comprehensive plan is slated to be voted during the church’s second annual executive committee meetings next month.

“Our overall goal in Sabbath school is to have all members live in readiness of the coming of the Lord,” said Telemaque.

During the advisory meetings, Sabbath school leaders reported on initiatives and activities that took place in their regions during the past three years, went over available resources from the Inter-American Division Publishing Association,  looked at available interactive bible studies for young adults, discussed making churches more accessible for those with special needs, studied the needs of elderly members who are not able to afford mobile devices, have challenges with technology and are unable to attend church, and more.

To learn more about Inter-America’s Sabbath School department and available resources, click HERE


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