15 types of Sabbath School or AY Program
Creating interesting Sabbath School and Adventist Youth (AY) Programs can be a difficult task especially if you have to do it multiple times per month. Keeping people’s attention for an hour consistently is a very difficult task regardless of what you're trying to do. Many sabbath programs have defaulted to the monotonous monologue that is sometimes totally outside of the congregation’s interest and attention. There is little to no feedback or engagement and this usually results in a lack of understanding of the message that you're trying to communicate as well as reduced attendance to future programs.
To break the monotony, it is encouraged to have a decent amount of variety and diversity in program format and content. Programs can be mixed with multiple styles involving engaging questions and discussions to activate the members sitting in the pews.
This article outlines 15 unique methods of presenting programs for your church event. We will outline how you can develop creative approaches to your programs as well as create content that is engaging, promotes participation and spiritual growth.
- Panel Discussion
There are are many hot topics that are best explored by hearing the opinions of people who have had personal experience or are skilled professionals and can present an informed view.
Panel discussions are ideal for this type of program. It is also ideal for topics where you require a diverse set of opinions from a wide cross-section of people who you can handpick and give time to make adequate preparations to give the necessary answers. This is advantageous over just randomly taking questions from the congregation since the opinions might be skewed, since only those brave enough to share their views may end up contributing. A panel is can be range from 3 to even 10 members based on the topic. A moderator is usually placed in charge of the discussion to ask the relevant questions, control the length of the responses and chooses who gets an opportunity to respond. The moderator can also extend a request for questions and comments to the wider audience if necessary.
A testimony sabbath program is based around asking persons to share from their personal experience on how God has been glorified in their life. Testimonies should not focus on the individual, but on how God came through for them, or simply giving God thanks for His sustaining grace.
This type of program works best if you can pre-select at least a few people to share their testimony. This creates an open and sharing environment for others who may not want to be the first at sharing their experiences. The program may or may not limit the theme of the testimonies to be related to a topic such as a thanksgiving, praise, provision, health, finances, spiritual growth, conversion, etc.
- Bible Study & Discovery
This enables the congregation to read the Bible and discover what it has to say to them. Simple, memorable questions allow participants to understand the character of God, encourage them to obey what they are learning, and help them to share it with others. Bible studies work best in small groups of between four and eight people - preferably people who already know each other. Read the scripture passage for the current study, usually several times, and then ask people to retell the story in their own words. Once people are happy with the story, you can ask the following questions:
What does this story tell you about God?
What does this story tell you about people or (yourself)?
If this is God’s word for your life, how will you obey?
Who are you going to tell?
- Bible Games
There are many ways to make learning the bible fun for everyone. Bible games are especially fun for the young and the young at heart. Each game’s focus should be on the outcome of improving the participant’s knowledge of God and His word over the entertainment value of the game.
- Quizzes and Trivia
Test the biblical knowledge of your congregation by asking them to answer questions from the bible. Quizzes can be done as an ice breaker or as a conclusion to a Bible study on a specific topic. You can also have general Bible quizzes that test the members on content from all across the bible. Based on the type of quiz you choose, you may decide to select specific individuals to query or you can sub-divide the church into a number of groups.
The Trivia can be a pop quiz or you can inform the congregation or individuals about the topic and that you will be testing them in the future so that they can be prepared for the test. Ideally, there should be no need to keep score, unless it is for a specific purpose. The aim of these quizzes is to encourage Bible study and to give an understanding to each player of the extent of their biblical knowledge.
- Outdoors & Nature
“The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handy work.” The first church had no ceiling, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve would worship God in the ambiance of nature.
Outdoor worship should be a frequent part of every church schedule. It serves as a change of space and creates an environment where the members can experience God with their senses as they take in the natural sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors.
Ideal places for outdoor services include public botanic gardens and parks, by the beach or riverside, in the lush green of a forest, at the top of a hill or mountain with a view, or simply in the backyard of a member who has adequate space.
While outdoors, the leader can design a program that has an emphasis on nature and God’s work as the creator or our role as the ones who have dominion over nature. Another idea for a program is to use the objects present in the environment as object lessons to learn of God. Lessons can be found in a stone, the trees, the ants, the wind, etc.
Outdoor programs are not only limited to nature programs, but you can also use outdoor programs as an evangelistic effort to enter into communities or public places of business and commerce. Based on what is allowed in your country, you can do tract distributions, open-air sermons, bus preaching, feeding the poor in the streets, attending to the needy.
- Oral Presentations
An oral presentation is the most common method of delivering a sabbath program. If done well, it can edify each member of the audience with the information it was aimed at conveying. Feel free to add multimedia items to your presentation. Use generous amounts of storytelling to keep your audience engaged.
A sermon is an oration or lecture by a preacher. Sermons address a scriptural, theological, or by moral topic. To make things interesting you can switch Divine service with Sabbath School or AY and invite a special guest speaker to deliver the Word of God.
As you seek to grow your church, you’ll want to rely on stories to help connect with potential visitors and the community. People pay more attention to stories. And in our big data and information overload, attention is a valuable commodity.
God created us to love stories, but it’s not exclusive to Christians. When we tell stories, we connect with people in a way they understand. Encourage your small group leaders/ superintendents/ AY leaders to apply stories of their experience to make Scripture more relevant or relatable.
When selecting studies and resources, prioritize material that shares both stories from the Bible and the speaker’s personal walk. These stories help group members connect the message with their own life and allows them to share from their own experiences.
Read selected passages from books such as Steps to Christ, Desire of Ages, Messages to Young People at the end of the program, before the last hymn. Select young people who read well and have a good voice to do this. Perhaps this could be a regular feature in your program. This part could be featured as “Minutes of Inspiration.”
This is a process that involves formal discussion on a topic. Opposing arguments are put forward to argue for opposing viewpoints. Have 3-5 persons in a team for and against issues such as marriage, drugs, entertainment, education, etc.
- Questions & Answers
Youths enjoy this. It allows the timid person to participate since they will be able to write down the questions on a sheet of paper beforehand. Select an excellent coordinator and several capable persons to answer the questions. The coordinator will read the question and will ask someone to answer the questions. The congregation also may be invited to join in the discussion.
- Skit or Play
Present a skit on characters of the Bible, a historical event from the Bible times, denominational history, or the history of your church. Skits can also be parables of everyday situations; however, there must be a clear and obvious lesson from the performance, similar to the parables of Jesus.
If there isn’t a current drama group, try to gather persons you know are gifted in this arena. Start recruiting members from within the church and even the community at large.
A Sabbath of just praise and worship is always inspiring. Melodious songs are their own sermon and can bring the congregation together. Every person is different and responds to God’s messages in various ways. Incorporating music will only enhance the service and can have a revival impact on the lives it touches.
- Group Activities
Split the church up into a number of groups. Choose one or more topics, assign each topic to a group. The group is responsible for discussing the topic among its members and presenting the findings as an oral presentation, a song, a poem, a skit, or any creative method