Inspiring students and encouraging them to share their faith in Christ is the goal of Sabbath School Alive!, a worldwide project that seeks to imprint a vision of caring and mobilizing members from action units and small groups. For this, weekly and quarterly indicators will be evaluated to boost the effective involvement of each participant.
"We want Sabbath School to become again the structure to mobilize members to fulfill the mission. Getting to this level requires commitment," details Pastor Bill Quispe, director of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries for the South American Division. According to him, the proposal is that each class becomes a "mini church" and each teacher shepherds his or her students and motivates them to get involved in evangelistic actions.
Sabbath School got its first study guide, The Youth's Instructor, in 1852. The meetings to discuss its themes also started that year and were based on Bible study, fellowship, witnessing, and emphasis on world mission. In other words, their eyes were on reaching people in other regions of the world.
Quispe points out that this initiative seeks to rescue some of these principles that have weakened over time. For this reason, in some locations, the model has already been implemented and brought measurable results. In the city of Limeira, for example, in the countryside of São Paulo, Brazil, the Olga Veroni Adventist Church experienced growth not only in these points but also in the number of people baptized.
In 2021, for example, when Sabbath School Alive! started to be adopted there, three people were baptized. However, in 2022, the number jumped to 14, which is a 466-percent increase over the previous year. "Our Sabbath School was like most of the others: centered in the church, with no expectation of development in the areas of fellowship, relationship, and mission," says Welington Lima, an extrajudicial clerk and Sabbath School district coordinator in the region.
This began to change when the students strengthened their daily fellowship with God through Bible study and the Sabbath School lesson; they learned to develop Christian fellowship through relationship-oriented activities and to be a help to the neighborhood through community service and involvement in mission initiatives.
In addition, the model has enabled the assimilation of interested parties in the action units and proximity to students of TV Novo Tempo, thus expanding its reach and influence, besides the integration with other departments of the church. And what has changed in the church attended by Lima?
"Loyalty, attendance at services, relationships, visitation among members, growth in Bible studies. Today, each small group has people who are not Adventists studying the Bible," he stresses. The proposal presented by Pastor Quispe is that these environments—action units and small groups—become places of welcome and pastoring.
"We want these people to be visited. And this must happen at least once a semester, with prayer and quality time to attend to them. Our professors are assistants to the local pastor, supporting him even in this activity. And with this, they take more and more care of each other," explains Quispe.
The indicators that will evaluate Sabbath School Alive! are as follows:
To further strengthen the teachers' work in local churches, the proposal is that every year, the unions and conferences (administrative headquarters of the Adventist Church for different levels) organize the "Recognition of Excellence," a program aimed at valuing the achievements of action units and small groups that have fulfilled their activities with mastery.
To expand the establishment of action units and small groups as effective structures of shepherding and mobilization, in 2024, the Sabbath School Alive! Forum will be held. The meeting will take place in Brasilia on May 27–29 at the South American Division headquarters.
Administrators, directors of departments and institutions of the church, district pastors, and directors and teachers of Sabbath School from local churches will be present. Testimonies with success cases will be shared to encourage other people and classes. The 7me app will also be established as the official management tool for Sabbath School Alive!, enabling participants to check in and record activities.
"We want to make not only the Sabbath School alive but show that we are a living church, focused on mission and caring for others," emphasizes Quispe. "Our purpose is to have moments of dialogues to achieve results, always focusing on excellence."
In Olga Veroni, the missionary work is going further. Each action unit received a geographical area formed by streets and houses. The idea is to go in search of other people, including those who live close to a small group and have already studied the Bible through Novo Tempo.
"The Sabbath School can change the life of a person—of a church. It brought me closer to Jesus and ignited the desire to take this message to others. I urge everyone to seek the power of the Holy Spirit, and no doubt the Sabbath School will revitalize your life and your church," stresses Lima.
The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.