Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

John V.G. Matthews

Second Advisor

Kathleen Beagles

Third Advisor

Jerome Thayer

Abstract

Problem. From the time of its inception in the 1850s until the early part of the 20th century, the Adventist Sabbath School in North America was highly attended. During those times Sabbath School reached the highest attendance rate when Sabbath School membership was sometimes even larger than church membership. Following that time, the attendance rate at Sabbath School has significantly declined. Currently it is estimated that less than 25% of the Seventh-day Adventist Church membership in North America attends Sabbath School on a regular basis. This study explores factors related to declining attendance at the adult Sabbath School in the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between Sabbath School Attendance in the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the following five groups of factors: Achievement, Satisfaction, Socio-cultural, Institutional, and General Perceptions.

Methodology. This descriptive study employed non-experimental, quantitative survey methodology. The survey included 1,451 church members and 59 pastors in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, from a cluster sample in all nine unions in the North American Division. The statistical analysis utilized multiple one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlation analysis, and Chi-square tests applied to a two-stage process to determine the relationship(s) between Sabbath School Attendance and the five groups of factors mentioned above.

Results. In response to the 4,958 Member Surveys and 64 Pastor Surveys distributed, 1,451 (30%) Member Surveys and 59 (92%) Pastor Surveys were returned and correctly completed. The study revealed that seven out of eight Institutional Factors were significantly related to Sabbath School Achievement, and six out of the same eight Institutional Factors were related to Sabbath School Satisfaction. Furthermore, the study revealed that five out of eight Institutional Factors, five out of five Sabbath School Achievement and Sabbath School Satisfaction Factors, three out of six Socio-cultural Factors, and five out of six General Perception Factors were significantly related to Sabbath School Attendance.

Conclusions. Although there is no simple answer to the declining attendance at the adult Sabbath School in North America, this study reveals that 23 out of 30 factors studied were significantly related to Sabbath School Attendance. The only common institutional factor related to Sabbath School Achievement, Sabbath School Satisfaction, and Sabbath School Attendance was Teaching Style. Those taught interactively are more likely to achieve more, be more satisfied, and attend Sabbath School more frequently.

Subject Area

Sabbath schools--United States.

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