Pastoral Support in Adventist Education

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Adventist Education “means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come.” Education 13

In Adventism there are three main components that work together to accomplish the mission of the remnant. They are the church, home and school – each component having an interdependent relationship with the other two components. Success in Adventist Education (School) is evidenced when: 

1.    Students, parents, teachers and administrators have high satisfaction levels with school academic excellence.

2.    Constituent churches have broad and deep involvement in multiple areas in the school.

3.    Inflows of financial and in-kind resources are increasing through numerous internal and external funding sources.

4.    Strong spirituality and core Adventist doctrines are visible within the student body, faculty and staff and is reflected in continuous student decisions for Christ and subsequent growth in Christ.

5.    Involvement in and support for local and foreign mission is expanding.

Adventist Education formally began in 1872, over 140 years ago and may be the largest protestant school system in the world today. There are about 2 million students in our Adventist schools worldwide and they attend over 7,500 elementary, secondary, colleges and universities. In these schools students develop lifelong friendships with shared values, doctrine and beliefs, and healthy lifestyles. Also, the Cognitive Genesis study concluded that the longer students attended an Adventist school the more they outperformed their peers.

The question is, how is success in Adventist education achieved?An important way is through pastoral support for Adventist education. Why? The position of pastor is one of tremendous influence in the church and local community. 

The pastor is seen by congregants as God’s servant and spokesperson, a protector, as a trusted leader and a person appointed by God to serve and guide people to a positive spiritual lifestyle and eternal outcome. From the community’s perspective, the pastor is a person who is often viewed as a progressive life-change agent for the members of the local community.

As the pastor regularly communicates with the congregation through weekly sermons and individually by conversations, they are able to convey the purpose, history, size, values and outcomes of Adventist Education to a broad cross-section of constituents; prospective parents, potential students, mission-minded individuals and community organizations. The pastor can separate fact from fiction about Adventist Schools. Also, the pastor is able to mobilize congregants to support Adventist Education in many ways; enroll their relatives, volunteer, give in-kind contributions and financial gifts of support, to both the education institutions and supporting ministries.

It is a reality that adequate funding facilitates achieving excellence in academic outcomes. And someone once said “It is easy to give money away. It’s hard to do it wisely”. This is where a pastor’s considerable influence can help guide individuals, families, and organizations, who are interested in making a difference, to give small and large gifts in support of Adventist Education. As the pastor is well acquainted with the views and values of the congregants, members of the community and organizations, they are uniquely positioned to bring together these parties, which include the affluent and influential, to achieve the goals of Adventist Education and facilitate the supporters to experience joy and fulfilment of purpose. 

When I was a new parent and we had our baby blessed at church, a pastor suggested that my wife Karen and I consider sending our daughter Kayana to the church daycare and then school. Other people in church encouraged us to place her there. We did and few years later when Jade was born, we placed her in the church daycare and then school. Both have gone through Adventist Education and after 24 years we can say that if we had to do it all over again we would choose to place our children in Adventist Education. As we reflect on the journey, it was the wise counsel of the pastors along the way that encouraged us as we invested in our children for eternity and supported with our time and financial resources. 

Steve Bromfield is the founder and president of Education for Eternity Foundation in  Miramar, Florida