Sabbath School Action Units Plan in Brief
1. One plus hour for class time
2. 10-20 minutes focus on caring and class plan for outreach
3. 40-50 minutes of life-related discussion of the lesson
1. Six to eight is optimum size. The goal is to grow.
2. Care Coordinator is appointed by the class. He/she takes the first part of the class to coordinate caring activities such as reaching missing members, facilitate implementation of class outreach plan, and prayer.
3. Prayer time is conversational with several members free to participate, but none forced to pray.
4. Class Facilitator encourages all to participate in discussion by:
a. Using ice breakers.
b. Providing a warm friendly atmosphere.
c. Asking open-ended, life-related questions that can be answered by experience related to the weekly Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.
d. Not lecturing or spending significant time in telling facts only.
e. Not asking questions that can be answered by rote.
f. Sharing life experience in relation to the biblical portion.
g. Asking questions that spark discussion about experience, e.g. “Is it easy or hard to be a Christian”, then following up with “are there Bible texts that would shed light on the question?”
h. Not asking questions that are too invasive or personal.
i. Not coercing, forcing, or bowling people over with his/her knowledge, agenda, or zeal.
j. Encouraging members to dialogue with each other in reference to experience and biblical understanding.
Development of Class Plan
1. Care Coordinator facilitates development of class plan
2. Class agrees on a simple outreach project and goal for the class
3. It may be best to meet at another time to develop the plan.
4. Activities may be based on spiritual gifts.
1. Once each month care coordinators facilitate sharing with the entire Sabbath School concerning outreach activities.
2. It may be well to line this up in advance by asking certain ones to talk about some aspect of outreach that would be of interest to all.
Care Coordinator Consultation
1. Care Coordinators should meet regularly with pastor and/or personal ministries leader to coordinate outreach with the overall ministry plans of the church.
2. Sometimes this can be done by meeting a few minutes on Sabbath in the pastor’s study.
ACTION UNIT EXPERIENCES
Shirley Peterson, Sabbath School Superintendent from the Walla Walla Eastgate Church, reports that one Action Unit class adopted the Welcome Baby program as their class plan. Mothers in the church found it quite simple to meet new mothers in the community with a gift and parenting study guides. Several of these new mothers have attended church and at least one has been baptized.
(This is not actually an Action Unit project but it could be used by a class)
John Davis of the Fairfield, WA church, started a project that was special funded by a large donation. Cases of the book, Psalms for Tiny Tots Vol. 1 are delivered to a local hospital. One book is included in the “Welcome Baby” packet given to each mother after delivery. Inside the book is a response card to be mailed in if the parents wish to obtain more good reading material for their child. The literature evangelist director states that in following up these response cards it isn’t even necessary to make a presentation. The people are eager to purchase more books and they make a sale at every house. Over 6,000 Psalms for Tiny Tots have been donated since the project began.
The husband of a church member attended an Action Unit class in one UCC church. He enjoyed the fellowship of the small group. After attending for several months he inquired how a person could become a Seventh-day Adventist. One of the members of the class, an engineer, studied with this guest who was also an engineer. After working their way through the book, 27 Fundamental Beliefs, the member said, “There are two ways you can become a Seventh-day Adventist. One is by profession of faith, the other is by baptism.” The man replied, “I believe I would like to be baptized.”
One departmental leader in UCC saw a foreign car like his in front of the ABC. Since he had been reading about witnessing within clubs or fraternities he stopped to talk to the young woman about her car. She said she was looking for a book called “Steps to Jesus”. He told her the ABC was closed but he would get the book for her. She assured him that she would be back for it on Monday. He suggested she come by his office when she returned on Monday and he would give her an address for the car club for the type cars they were both driving. As she drove away he felt he had made a mistake in not giving her a gospel presentation. He he had missed the evangelistic moment. He took the young womans name to his Action Unit and they prayed for her. He didn’t actually have her name so they prayed for her by the name of the car.
Several weeks later the woman called, wanting the address of the car club. She was having trouble with her car and wanted to advertise and hopefully sell it through the newsletter. The departmental leader bought the car over the phone. Then he asked if she had found the book. She replied that she had, but wanted another that had scripture reference texts included. He asked if she had found complete peace in Jesus. She said no. He gave a testimony and a gospel presentation. When he was asking her to claim promises over the phone she said, “I believe I need to make a commitment. I believe I need to be in church. I know where the church is. My son attended VBS there. I will be in church this weekend”…and she was. She enjoyed the fellowship of the Action Unit in that church and continued to attend.
One member of an Action Unit in UCC office loaned Ken Cox videos to a person who knew a person that he knew. He never met this person. They corresponded through the mail. The woman receiving the videos was a retired opera singer. One day the member received a letter from the woman stating that she was attending the SDA church. She was later baptized and has now been used by the Lord to bring six others into fellowship with the body of Christ. This is a testimony to the power of prayer and simple bible studies as a means of reaching others.
Rejoice in the Lord and see service as a joy.
Create a warm friendly atmosphere.
Allow visitors to feel at home.
Foster meaningful devotional life.
Encourage others to share and participate.
Provide a comfortable prayer atmosphere.
Provide at least 1 hr. for class time.
Use educational tools, overhead, video, handouts, graphics, computer etc.
Work behind scenes to organize, facilitate sharing, foster outreach, study, missions.
e.g. Feast of Tabernacles
See SS Planners
Focus on the main objectives.
Try to talk the visitors language as much as words are shared in common.
Involve the members spiritually.
Make Sabbath School a life learning laboratory.
Become focused on the burden in place of the privilege.
Put people on the spot to identify themselves or give answers to questions without obtaining their permission.
Ignore visitors or make over them too much.
Emphasize duty apart from love and devotion.
Carry on a tedious monologue.
Force people to pray.
Take the teacher’s time.
Simply read, admonish, or exhort.
Occupy long periods of time up front.
Get in a rut.
Belittle or scold others.
Use Sabbath School time for pet themes.
Talk a foreign language to visitors.
Simply speak facts, stories, poems, information for the purpose of filling the time.
Why I believe Action Units are Vital to Sabbath School Ministry
1. The Bible supports Prayer, Bible Study, Witnessing as the three ingredients of Christian church gatherings
2. The Spirit of Prophecy supports the idea of small groups for ministry and Sabbath School as a training school
3. Historically it was the schools established by Groote emphasizing Prayer, Bible Study, and witnessing that paved the way for the reformation.
4. Need to offer weekly support for the small group
a. “Twelve Signs of America’s Spiritual vitality” Ministry Currents, Jan- Mar 1994 (Vol. 4. No. 1) pages 1-3
“Just three years ago, one out of four adults was involved in a small group (other than Sunday school or adults education class at church). Now only half that many (12%) participate in a small group. Nonetheless more churches than ever are attempting to do small group ministry”
b. “Check your balance” by Joseph Miller, Church Planter, First Quarter 1994 (Vol. 9, No 1) pgs. 1-5
“Adults do not grow in discipleship apart from one-on-one or small group relationships. The most logical time and place for this to occur is within the Sunday school structure since home cell groups normally often go astray because of lack of church control.”
5. Action Units provide weekly training for member ministers
6. Action Units promote growth; see results of survey that shows Sabbath Schools that follow the plan experience more growth
7. Sabbath Schools involved in ministry give more for missions. see graph of UCC
8. Action Units provide a discussion of the lesson in application to life.
– Ellen White writes extensively about education that is useless.
– The Bible was written not so much to be studied as experienced
– Principles of Religious Education point to the Bible class as a
laboratory for life.
Dewy the Philosopher said “An ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory” –
9. Action Units work
– One church in our conference had 300 baptisms in 5 years operating through Action Unit type Sabbath School classes
– Another church has increased membership by 100 in a three year period with Action Units as a basis of church ministry. The pastor of that church said “I can’t see doing church without it”.
Elmer Towns in his book 154 steps to Revitalize your Sunday School and Keep your Church Growing
Step No 1 The Pastor must be willing to pay the price:
a. Price of sacrifice
b. Risk of failure
c. Hard work and work smart
d. Give up some of his/her ministry
e. Allow others in the church to pastor members that he/she cannot pastor
“He must learn to “give up” some things to his members so they can minister in his place. The pastor must share his ministry with his flock, for the growing church involves the ministry of the whole body to the whole body.” pg. 12