Stewardship Ministries


“Take My Life and Let It Be,” the opening line of the traditional hymn of consecration composed by Frances Ridley Havergal. Each verse invites the singer to - commit all his/her possessions and being - to the Lord for His purposes. ‘First Things 1st’, continues to consider the meaning and spirit of these challenging lines (along with some others in the same spirit). This month…

As an introduction to the Lesson Study at the TED Year-End Meetings, Daniel Duda asked, “When was the last time you went to Sabbath School, and learnt something?” By the nature of the question, not a lot! But before we look at that further, a quick dip into the 2016 Annual Statistical Report, reveals that of the 86,000 TED members, on average, only 22,000 turn up for Sabbath School*. While this figure shows the matter to be probably worse than it is (due to sporadic reporting), it’s possible that 50% of TED members are missing out, on a tremendous discipleship resource to grow and strengthen faith.

Ten years before the church was organised, in 1853 James and Ellen White formed the first Sabbath School group in their home in Rochester, New York. Their legacy continues to this day. The purpose was to grow, train, and equip members to thrive as end-time Christians.

Fast forward to today’s adult Sabbath School class. Still ‘growing, training, and equipping members’? In some places, perhaps, but its chief characteristic of recent times, is that of a debating chamber, a pedestal for brother or sister Smith to promote their theological agenda, without any significant reference to Holy Scripture. Do not our most recent study themes, make the case in point?

Over the last six months we’ve studied together Paul’s epic letter to the Roman church, (explaining the Gospel) and his letter of distress to the Galatian church (with the message, do not distort the gospel):

I/we may have studied, but where is the life change?
Where is the deeper ‘in Christ’ experience?
Where is the increase in grace?

There’s a 19th century word that Ellen White used to describe the purpose of Bible study: “A familiar acquaintance with the Scriptures sharpens the discerning powers and fortifies the soul against the attacks of Satan.”** I like that word ‘fortifies’! The Thesaurus explains that it means to ‘build up’, ‘protect’, ‘reinforce’, ‘strengthen’ and ‘support’. Who wouldn’t want such, to help to thrive as an end-time Christian?

One of the excellent challenges of the ‘Ideas Bank’, at the recent TED Nurture & Retention Summit was to:

“Develop discipleship programmes in every church, for every age group, and at every level of church administration.” 

On record are sixteen interesting and creative ways to provide discipleship pathways for members. But looking again at the challenge above, it occurs to me that, staring us in the face, is a brilliant discipleship programme already in place (for all ages). We simply need to use it! You guessed right, it’s called Sabbath School!

Stewardship motives of the heartFor 90 days from 1 January 2018, coming to your church and mine, is a series of Sabbath School Lessons called, ‘Motives of the Heart’. The theme focuses on Stewardship matters, with the life-changing invitation to put GOD FIRST in our lives. Isn’t this the perfect opportunity to help get the ‘Nurture & Retention’ story going again? How about inviting those, in your sphere of influence, to make the most of Sabbath School, for all its worth! 

Imagine the outcome for your church, if it results in members re-connecting with the Lord, inspired to do greater acts of loving service, and wanting to change this world for the better.

* Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, Silver Spring, Maryland

** Ellen G White, Our High Calling, p. 31

First Things 1st is the monthly blog of the Stewardship Ministries Department of the Trans-European Division. The purpose is to restore and strengthen the principles of biblical stewardship, leading to a strong, mature, and joyful faith in Christ for those we serve. 

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+44 1727 860331
Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
Herts AL1 3EY
St Albans, United Kingdom