If folks miss something important, they should be missed. I mean, if they miss Sabbath School, or prayer meeting for instance, they should know they’re missed.
I know a Sabbath School teacher who keeps a little box of cards and pens on the pew beside him, and at the beginning of class he passes it around, inviting class members to jot a little, “we missed you” note. Not scolding. Not even inquiring why. Just a “we missed you.” There’s a copy of the church directory in the box to provide the addresses. The teacher collects them, attaches the stamps, and drops them off at the Post Office on Monday. Quick. Simple. Cheap. Meaningful.
And while we’re on the subject of the Sabbath School class, here’s my take on that. A dozen in a class is plenty. Much more than that and you begin to get the sense that this is another lecture, kind of a “first service.” Not.
Adult Sabbath School teachers are really cleverly disguised pastors, not rotating lecturers. They pour themselves into their class. They get to know the class members well. They cover them in strong intercession during the week. They make sure they’re accounted for when the class gathers. (That’s where the cards come in.) I’ve arbitrarily set the class size at a dozen because you and I have a Friend who demonstrated that’s a pretty good strategy.
Our commission is not just to make converts, but to make disciples. (Matt 28:19, 20) As a class teacher, you have more time to help accomplish that than the pastor does. (The class generally runs forty minutes or so; the sermon maybe 30 – I know, give or take.) The class environment also gives time for feedback so the perceptive teacher can pick up on the soft spots – or the hot buttons if you prefer that imagery – of the class. The teacher’s role is not to dispense information, but rather to plumb the “so what” issues raised by the week’s topic. What difference is this going to make in my life this week? What does this teach me about Jesus that I need to know? How can I use this when I leave here? You know, becoming-a-disciple questions.
And may I suggest that the first 10 or 15 minutes of the class period may be the most important of all. This is where the praying happens. This is where the caring happens. This is where the class members begin to sense that if they miss, they will be missed.