The Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was established as a major setting for religious education in the Church. It exists to teach and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in response to the command of Jesus, in the context of the three angel’s messages of Revelation 14:6-12. To honour this original purpose, the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department continues to communicate the good news with the objective to win, hold, and train for Jesus Christ, men, women, youth, boys and girls, in all the world.
The Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department endeavours to motivate all members to dynamic Christian service with the conviction that “…. The church of Christ is organised for service” (Ministry of Healing, p. 148), and “Every son and daughter of God is called to be a missionary; we are called to the service of God and our fellow men” (Ministry of Healing, p. 395).
Recognizing that “the Sabbath School work is important, and all who are interested in the truth should endeavour to make it prosperous” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 9); that “the Sabbath School, if rightly conducted, is one of God’s great instrumentalities to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 115); and that “Every church should be a training school for Christian workers. Its members should be taught how to give Bible readings, how to conduct and teach Sabbath school classes, how best to help the poor and to care for the sick, how to work for the unconverted. There should not only be teaching, but actual work under experienced instructors.” (Christian Service, p. 59); the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department functions as the primary religious educational and training system at the local church level of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, whereby the majority of the Seventh-day Adventists worldwide learn the teachings of the Bible, including the tenets of the Church, and become motivated and equipped to share the gospel with every living soul.
Sabbath School Department Outreach
Local Church Responsibility – While actively fostering all types of public witness, the Sabbath School is primarily responsible for providing materials and training for the following types of community outreach:
- Vacation Bible Schools
- Branch Sabbath Schools which include story hours, neighbourhood Bible clubs and branch Sunday Schools
- Community guest days.
- The pastor’s Bible class, designed to lead inquirers in a study of the Scriptures, to accept Christ as their Saviour, and through baptism into full fellowship with the remnant Church.
- Reclaiming inactive and former church members through prayer, visitation, and kindly care.
World Mission – The Sabbath School Department has been assigned the responsibility of cultivating a continued interest in and support for the world programme. This is accomplished through the following:
- Weekly reports in all divisions of the Sabbath School on the progress of and needs in the various countries of the world.
- Regular Sabbath School mission offerings
Vacation Bible School Grants – Conferences shall subsidise Vacation Bible Schools by grants from evangelism funds when applied for by churches, subject to the following conditions:
- The VBS programme shall be approved by the conference youth director.
- There shall be a minimum of one staff member for eight children attending the VBS.
- The subsidy shall be on a rand-for-rand basis between the conference and the church to a maximum conference contribution of R5 per child, or as annually revised and/or established by the Treasurer’s Council of the SAU Executive Committee.