So You Have a Sabbath School Quarterly

Growing up in the Seventh-day Adventist church has been beneficial in many ways. One of those ways is knowing why I believe something and being able to explain it without distorting the text. In my childhood, emphasis was placed on how each one should know what they believe and why for themselves. That is to say that we were encouraged from early on to familiarize ourselves with the Bible. This is the greatest gift a community of believers can give to its youths.

I didn’t have many positions in the church. I was placed either in music, sabbath school, or both. Young adult sabbath school is where I spent most of my time. I also spent quite a good amount of time teaching SDA beliefs (doctrines) to the entire youth group. Of all the things that I’ve done, doctrinal teaching was the most thrilling to me. An experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. It presents the opportunity to see where we are as a youth body theologically.

Today, I no longer teach young adults, I’m teaching early teens–an awakening experience. Although it is the same Bible, different age groups calls for different approaches. In my reflections on how to best deal with early-teens, I also venture into thoughts on my experience with teaching the young adult quarterly. This is my musing on the optimal way for them to maximize their understanding of the sabbath school quarterly.

Since I’m still a young adult these pointers are based on what I’ve seen work for others and for me. Personal reflections are not the only reason for writing. Observations have been made concerning the lack of study that is done with the quarterly and overall disinterest in any step by step Bible approaches. Here are the points:

1 – Approach with the Right Attitude. Your mindset matters. How do you approach the sabbath school quarterly? Do you do it because you don’t want to be embarrassed in sabbath school when attendance is taken and you’re asked, “did you study?” Or perhaps you do it because you are driven by a sense of obligation: “I do it because I have to.” Maybe you’re one of those that don’t do it at all.

Whatever the reason it would be in your best interest to look at the quarterly differently. This will occur when you begin to ponder on questions such as: (1) What is the quarterly, and (2) what benefits can I get from it? The quarterly is an attempt at studying various books and themes that can be found in the Bible. From this objective we find the benefits. If we study we will become more familiar with what is actually in the Bible. Becoming more familiar and adhering to its’ teaching will lead us to, to say the least, a keener awareness of the world we live in, how God is really like, how we should be towards others, and how it will all end. Are these benefits? That’s up to you to decide.

2 – Select an Optimal Time. What time do you usually do your sabbath school? Does your time change everyday? If we were to take a poll on these questions we would have a variety of responses. And yet we would still be left with another question: what is the optimal time? The optimal time varies for everyone. However, I would like to suggest that, if it is possible, the best time to undertake the study of the quarterly is early in the morning.

Upon waking in the morning, assuming that the late night hangout sessions weren’t excessive, the mind is fresh and can easily focus on things that it probably would have a hard time focussing on during other parts of the day. This is not an issue that everybody would have but my experience has led me to suspect that amongst those that intend to do their lesson at some point of the day, many fail because they keep saying “later” to themselves. Eventually later becomes night time and if a study is done it is only a study because we call it that and not because it is. Why not just do it first thing after your devotion? It’s up to you to decide.

3 – Spiritual Things are Spiritually Discerned. Wrong mindset and bad timing are not the only things that can destroy your ability to utilize the quarterly. Do you pray before, during, and after the study? Is it a sincere prayer or are you just going through the motions? When approaching the study of the Bible it is critical that the God who inspired it is sought for enlightenment. You would be surprise at how many non-Christians that know the text but are void of the spirit.

It is in your best interest to pray before you study. In the midst of the study you might come across something that perplexes you or move you to want to change. There is nothing wrong with stopping right there and praying about it. Finally, you should always close your sessions with prayer. You never know when God will bring what you learned to your mind to help you or somebody else. Why not make prayer an integral part of your study session? It’s up to you to decide.

4 – Reading and Writing. If you were to ask any of my young adults sabbath school students they would tell you, I hope, that I always made a fuss about writing the answers on the blank lines in the quarterly. After all, that’s what they are there for. I thought that if they wrote they would be force to think more critically about their answers. Needless to say, I failed in this endeavor. I still believe that writing is an important part of learning. Writing causes you to look at your thoughts on paper. At times what is on paper doesn’t seem too logical.

But in order for you to answer the questions you have to read the texts/passages. I became aware that, unfortunately, when it is said “I studied,” it doesn’t mean that the Bible was looked at. It can simply mean that the quarterly was read. The quarterly is set up in a way where a question is asked, blank lines are given for a response, and the answer is given in the following paragraphs. Although this is design to ensure that no one leaves confuse, it also provides an exit for those that don’t want to read the text. This is, of course, no fault of the quarterly. It is an issue that the reader need to face and pray about. It is about honesty, integrity, or shall we say “doing the right thing.” Is reading the references and writing on the blank lines necessary? That is up to you to decide.

In conclusion, there are many more points that can be given. However, I think I’ve done enough writing for now. No need to complicate things, let’s work on fixing the basics and everything else will fill into it’s proper place.

Im always glad to hear from readers, Please leave a comment stating your perspective.

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