Osmar Reis is in the Personal Ministries Department of the South American Division. 

Discover why the members do not attend their classes and what can be done to improve attendance and participation.

Research has shown that attendance at Sabbath School has declined from 80% of the members to 40% during the last years.

What motivates the absence of the members from Sabbath School?

1. Programs that do not meet the expectations of the members.
2. Lack of better relationship among the members.
3. Little participation and involvement.
4. Lack of motivation.
5. Little cooperation and support.
6. The way in which the professor performs his job.
7. Spiritual problems.

1. Why the programs do not meet the expectations of the members?

• The programs have not been planned before hand or are a last minute preparation.
• Lack of proper preparation on the part of the participants.
• Musical messages chosen at the last minute.
• The mission report is read and very long.
• No consideration is given to the hour in which to begin or end the program.
• Many units do not follow the official program.

Solutions

• Prepare dynamic and inspiring programs.
• Choose the participants in advance in order to allow them time to prepare.
• The report must be presented on a dynamic and attractive manner.
• Observe the hour in which to begin and to end the program.
• Follow the official program.

2. Lack of better relationship among the members

• There is almost no friendship and support among the members of the unit.
• Lack of love. People need God, but also one another. "That you love one another" (John 13:34).
• "We loose much, as a people, for lack of sympathy and fellowship." Christian Service, p. 233.
• Many do not feel that they have been accepted as part of the group.
• Large classes became impersonal.
• Lack of unity, the spirit of criticism and competition causes disappointment among many.
• Closed groups within themselves.
• Conflicts produce discomfort thus people tend to draw away.
• The majority of teachers do not promote friendship among the members.

Solutions

• A good number of the members remain in the church because of friendship.
• The teacher must promote friendship among the members.
• Take advantage of those moments of socialization to develop relationships and friendliness among the individuals.
• Periodically promote social activities with the unit: lunches, anniversaries, outings, etc.
• Organize classes of 6 to 10 members in order to facilitate their relationship.
• Produce a secure environment where every one can participate freely.
• Resolve any misunderstanding as soon as it presents itself.
• Show love and sympathy toward each other.

3. Little participation and involvement

• Many members do not take active part because they are timid and introvert.
• Some teachers control the discussion and give no opportunity for student's participation.
• Some members don't have the Sabbath School quarterly.
• On some occasions some of the older members become jealous if some of the new members wish to participate in the discussion.
• Lovers of themselves, there are selfish individuals who do not become part of the group, because they feel that everything in the church must rotate around them (2 Tim. 3:2-3).

Solutions

• The teacher must request the participation of those who are more timid.
• He must not talk all the time, but should stimulate class participation.
• Provide the Sabbath School quarterly to those who don't have it.
• Unite the new members with the older ones.
• Help everyone to develop unselfishness and brotherly love.

4. Lack of motivation

• The students are not motivated to study the lesson or to be present.
• Recognition. People are saddened when they work for the church and receive no recognition from the leaders.

Solutions

• Praise the students efforts by:
1. Punctuality and study of the lesson.
2. Their participation, even if it's in a small way.

5. Little support or reinforcement

• In very large churches where people don't know each other.
• Little association with the members.
• Lack of visitation of the absent members.
• Lack of help in times of crisis.

Solutions

• Keep an updated list of all the members.
• Register all members in the Sabbath School.
• Visit the absentees.
• Show special regard for the new members and help them in their moments of distress.

6. The way in which the teacher performs his duties

• He doesn't know the majority of the students.
• Doesn't worry about why the student is absent.
• Doesn't help him in time of need.
• Produces restraint on the student with direct questions during the study of the lesson.
• He hinders the participation of some of the students.
• He calls the attention of those who don't have the quarterly or don't study.
• Does not recognize the students of the group.

Solutions

• The teacher must know the students and the kind of work they do.
• Know where they live.
• Know their parent's names.
• Visit them in their homes.
• When members are absent, find out the reason for their absence.
• Pray for them and place the names of the absentees and former members on the prayer list.
• Each time a member is absent, somebody should be appointed to visit him.
• Discover the needs of the absentees and do what you can to help them.
• The teacher must help the student to be sensitive of the needs of others.
• Present the lessons in an interesting manner and incite total participation and not coerce the student with direct questions and with observations on his attitude.
• Fraternize with the students out of the unit and promote social activities with them.

7. Spiritual problems

• Formalism. Many Christians simply take the name, but their hearts remain carnal (2 Tim. 3:5).
• Worldliness. "Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:4).
• Lack of prayer, daily study of the Bible and of the Sabbath School lesson.

Solutions

• Review with the students those things that relate to the Christian lifestyle.
• Pray with them. 
• Motivate them to study the Bible, the lesson and the Spirit of Prophecy.
• Help them obtain a real experience with Christ.
• Time has come for us to do a special work in favor of the members through the Sabbath School.


Osmar Reis is director of Personal Ministries in the South American Division.

Osmar Reis is in the Personal Ministries Department of the South American Division. 

2003 First Quarter

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Ministry Cover