At Home Digital Magazine is Released

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In a time of unparalleled digital connection, finding time for meaningful conversations with those you care for the most becomes challenging.   

This second version of the At Home Conversation Starters issue of the CALLED magazine targets both single and married pastors, and chaplains and their spouses. It also features five timely articles and ten short video vignettes, and provides questions to dialogue about with family or colleagues. With a refreshing transparency, the authors have shared their experiences and perspectives, so, we hope that you will be challenged and your understanding and empathy for others in ministry will grow.

This resource can also be used in small or large group discussions. We recommend it for conference workers’ meetings. (One seminary teacher has used part of the July 2015 edition of At Home Conversation Starters 1 in one of his courses.) Feel free to come up with your own ideas and questions, and share them with us. We welcome your feedback!

At Home Conversation Starters is viewed best on your electronic tablet or smartphone. For instructions on how to download the NAD Ministerial Resource app Click this link to subscribe on an Apple powered device, or this link for a Google Play device. PDF Version


Having Influence

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Having influence.jpg

It was my first church where I was the senior pastor and the 7th and 8th grade teacher was for a reason that I can’t now recall needed to be gone and I was asked to teach Bible and PE for a week or so.  I had never had any pedagogical training but went to the elementary school to be a teacher.  I quickly learned to appreciate the challenges provided by pubescent boys and girls.  They were quick to give all the right answers in Bible class but when then we went to recess the Bible lessons we spoke of in class did not have any effect on behavior when it came to playing baseball.  I quickly learned that the theory of Christian living in a Bible Class did not always translate into behavior on the ball field. 

What is true for pubescent boys and girls is also true of adults who listen to preachers giving moral instruction in church, and is true of some university students who find the freedom of university life releases them from the moral constraints of their home life.  After my week of substitute teaching I was ready to go back to pastoral ministry with a greater appreciation for those who have given their lives to teaching.  I would encourage every pastor to have such an experience.  I not only had a greater appreciation for teachers and the work that they do but I had developed a relationship with many students who were also parishioners of mine and who would, hopefully, pay more attention to the pastor when he/she preached on Sabbath because he/she had spent time on the ball field with them. 

Leadership, as John Maxwell says, is influence, and the influence of a pastor is dramatically increased with parishioners when he/she spends time with the children of those parishioners.  Whether those children are in elementary school or in college or university.  Influence is gained through relationships and there is no quicker way to develop a relationship with church members than to connect with their children.  And there is no better way to do that then to spend time either in a local elementary school, academy or college connecting with the young people of the church.  It is said that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” well the way to the heart of parishioners is through their children.

My experience as pastor of the university church in Collegedale strengthened the conviction of the importance of building relationships.  Being at the university church enabled me to connect with many college students and I learned that they are just older elementary school students.  They appreciate personal attention in the same way as younger children do.  Connecting with them on the racket ball court or the ball field developed the relationships that enabled my spiritual influence to be more significant.  As previously said, “leadership is influence” and you don’t gain influence without building relationships and you don’t just do that from the pulpit.

When I became president of the university I tried to build relationships by teaching a class or two but found that my schedule did not allow it to be done effectively (and besides that I was not the most effective teacher), so I sought other means to build relationships with students.  Once again it was playing on the ball field, just watching football/basketball games or eating with students in the cafeteria that enabled me to build connections with students.  Showing interest is building influence.  When it comes to college students it is not necessary to play games with them.  (In fact, given my skill level it was better if I didn’t play with them.)  It was just important to show up, listen, and talk to them.  The word transparency comes to mind.  Influence is developed when the students see the “real you” without putting on the pastoral cloth.

Ellen White wrote in the book Education that “the work of education and the work of redemption are one.” (page 30) For many pastors the most significant evangelism campaign that they embark on will be the work they do among the young people of the church. 

I have found that what is true for students in elementary school and academy is also true in the university setting.  The expression “out of sight out of mind” too often applies to students who leave home and the local church and make their way to a college or university to continue their education.  They are often forgotten by the local church.  There are those who complain about the young people leaving the church when they graduate from academy or when they go away to college or university, but do those people remain connected with the young people?  As previously indicated, “Leadership is Influence.”  We have no influence over those with whom we maintain no connection.  It is about relationship and maintaining relationship with the church, and that is not a building, but it is people who love and care for young people and show that through actions.

The single most significant thing that a pastor can do after establishing a position of influence with the young people in his church is to use that influence in encouraging them to attend a Seventh-day Adventist school.  Generally, parents and students, particularly those of modest means, believe that they can’t afford higher education.  They have heard stories of tuition rates in the multiples of 10 thousand dollars and on their wages, they don’t see how it is possible for them to even think about having their child go to one of the 13 SDA higher education institutions.  But the fact is that when you consider scholarships, government aid and work it is not as expensive as it sounds.  In fact, it is generally less expensive than sending a student to a boarding academy.

Research[i] demonstrates that when young adults attend Adventist higher education they are

·      Eight times more likely to experience professors who helped me develop spiritually.

·      Seven times more likely to experience professors who studied the Bible, and prayed with me.

·      Seven times more likely to participate in mission service or mission trips.

·      Four to five times more likely to work on campus.

·      Three times more likely to experience positive dating interactions

·      Three times more likely to participate in campus activities, such as sports teams, music groups campus publications, student clubs.

·      Two to four times more likely to develop lifelong friendships with classmates, faculty and staff.

·      Two times more likely to learn the importance of healthy living.

Churches have school boards to monitor the function of schools, they have Sabbath School Departments that plan programs for all age groups.  It would be helpful, even if the church has no young adult class, for there to be a young adult ministry department that maintained connection and therefore relationship with young adults no matter where they were living.  When my daughters left home and went away to school you can be sure I maintained close connection with them through care packages, phone calls and visits.  It would build influence with our young adults if the church family worked at maintaining close connections with their young adults who went away to school.  Why not:

1.     Send a care package of goodies.

2.     Make a pastoral visit to the campus and take the students from you church out for a meal.

3.     Send personal notes or call on birthdays

4.     Make a special announcement and welcome students back when they come home for vacation.  (“You are missed and loved.”)

5.     Make a financial contribution to the student’s education (no matter how small. Education is expensive and your gift will send a significant message of support.

On more than one occasion when I was president of Southern Adventist University I received a thank you email from a student when I simply showed up to watch a basketball game or football game.  The pastors who made the effort to travel to Southern once or twice a year to simply take the students from their congregation out to eat developed a positive influence in the lives of those students.  So, to sum up the pastor and his//her relationship with college or university students – just show up.

Gordon Bietz serves as the associate director for higher education for the North American Division Education Department


Reprinted from the second quarter 2017 issue of CALLED


[i] CollegeImpact research report results from a study of the college experiences of alumni of Adventist colleges and universities and Adventist graduates of public colleges and universities in North America November 2014

Teachers and Students Smile at the Opening Bell

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Monday morning begins in the usual way at College Park Elementary School. The bell rings at 8:20 am and the huddled masses enter the building. One would think that CPES is just your typical Seventh-day Adventist Elementary school, but once inside the building you might be surprised. It’s not the layout of the school, it’s not the building structure, it’s not that we cover a different curriculum that any of our sister schools. What is unique about CPES is the connection we have with our churches and our pastors. We have four constituent churches in the area, so you would expect some pastoral involvement. People may say that pastors visiting their local Adventist school is not uncommon, but here is why our story is so unique.

Pastor Antonio Bueno of the Bowmanville Seventh-day Adventist church realized the importance of the church and the school working together. He took the initiative and met with a number of the pastors in the area. He wanted the pastors to be involved in a way like never before. The response from the pastors was overwhelming.  As a result of that first meeting, 10 pastors are now actively involved in the school. The pastoral break down is like this 6 from our constituent churches and 4 from outside of their current area. Each pastor has adopted a class and once a week a pastor comes to their class and worships with the students. Some play an instrument and sing songs; some tell stories from their childhood or share a Bible story, and still others get their students to act out Bible skits and actively participate in the worship. The interaction has built trust and a sense of community between the pastors and their classes.

The pastors are also assigned a month end assembly where they share a worship talk with the entire student body, staff and any visitors. One could say, that “This is far more than expected”, but it this not the end of the pastoral involvement. Each pastor realized that it is not just the students who need spiritual food, so on a two week rotation the 10 pastors come and worship with the staff.  The staff are ministered to by one of the pastors between 8:00 am-8:20 am five days a week.

The teachers and students agree; the pastors coming into the school has been a blessing to all. Some of the pastors have started Bible studies with specific grades and now meet once a week after school. When you think about it, the school is a mission field for teachers and pastors to introduce each student to Jesus. We are working to help all of the students find Jesus and personally choose to follow Him.  The project which started out as a pastors coming in a few times a month to worship with a class has grown into this amazing, Holy Spirit led endeavor.  God is moving in a most wonderful and powerful way. At a time when we need the Lord more than ever it’s comforting to know that God has a plan for his children.

From the start, we at College Park Elementary School have felt that the Lord’s leading. From our early beginnings on the campus of Kingsway College we know that Jesus is the Cornerstone of this institution. It only makes sense to have Him in every aspect of each and every day. Students should see Jesus in every subject, at every recess, in every face of the staff who works here. With the pastors so involved and the students so engaged, the Holy Spirit will continue to lead. I am sure that the Guardian Angels of each student and staff member must smile when the school bell rings and a new school day begins.  

Jason Perkins is the principal of College Park Elementary in Oshawa Ontario


Reprinted from the 2017 second quarter issue of CALLED

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A Wonderful Field of Evangelism

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For church, school and hospital leaders in and around Dayton, Ohio, symbiosis is more than high school biology lesson. It’s the essence of their relationship, which they also describe with words like “synergy” and “interconnected.”

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Church and School: <h2>Enemies? Or Partners?</h2>

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a crisis in the Adventist church

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When Churches and Schools Collaborate in Mission

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