Church and School:

Enemies? Or Partners?

The closing of many Adventist schools over the last few years highlights the observation that Churches and Schools seem to be competing for a seemingly dwindling pool of resources. Is it possible to combine resources toward a single mission? The newly released special edition of CALLED magazine answers these questions as it focuses on the relationship between pastors and schools. CALLED can be viewed on your smartphone or tablet and can be downloaded on either the ios or googleplay platforms. You can also download a PDF version.

I grew up with parents who were teachers. They sacrificed so that my brother and I could receive a Seventh-day Adventist education, and this education has had an indelible impact on my life.  It impacted my friendship choices, faith choices, my spousal choice, and life work choices.  As I reflect, Adventist education has thematically been foundational to my developmental journey as a person, spouse and parent, spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially.  So naturally I am excited about the thematic emphasis regarding church and school, and their inter-relationship in the quarter’s magazine.

The delivery and quality of Christian education in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is crucially related to the connection between church and school. The church and school relationship impacts a huge community inside and outside of the church, and more importantly sends a strong message of priority to young people. Does the church put its money where its mouth is? The closing of many of our schools in the last seven years has made the strategic relationship or pairing with church and school, in my opinion, the elephant in the room. It is the one thing we should get right. Their congruence is the one thing we should strive for.

The quagmire of disconnectedness lies in the church and school relationship, when in the words of Dr. Pamela Consuegra, NAD Family Ministries Co-director, and former conference educational superintendent, “many churches and schools function within comfortable “boxes” without regard to the existing opportunities that lie within arm’s reach,” meaning “interorganizational connection-collaboration.”  Pastors and principals must collaborate for the church and school to flourish. I don’t believe either chooses not to communicate or collaborate, but I do think both can get stuck in their lanes of ministry.  I applaud the Andrews University Theological Seminary Dean for championing this cause by adding to its curriculum, pastor training for the understanding and awareness of a better church-school relationship.

You will discover our writer’s perspectives have been impacted by experiences on many different levels from the journeys of teachers and pastors. Pastor’s will share perspectives viewed through having several constituent churches supporting one school, to one school being supported by one church. Also, the impact of pastor relationships with the school will be seen through their personal involvement.  One pastor who has a passion for reaching public school youth will share ways to reach students who are not Adventist, and retain Adventist children who attend public school. Teachers will share their experiences from elementary, high school, undergraduate and graduate school perspectives from several different schools in the North American Division. They also will emphasize the importance of church and school working together in many ways.

This CALLED magazine will take you on a journey from the elementary school teacher-to the seminary dean, from a pastor working with public school Adventist and unchurched youth-to a former educational superintendent, from an emeritus university president-to a church school supported by a health system. This elephant in the room edition will encourage you forward, building up God’s kingdom through church and school.

Ivan L. Williams, Sr.