Adventist Education- Distinct Advantage
THE 5 GOALS OF THE LRC: N0. 5 ADVENTIST EDUCATION-A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isa. 54:13).
Have you ever pondered why Adventist schools exist? What is the purpose of Adventist schools, of which there are approximately 8,000 in the world today? To say that education is almost synonymous with Adventism is not to speak hyperbolically. Early Adventist pioneers intentionally established schools almost everywhere they traveled and settled, firmly believing that all their children should be taught of the Lord. Adventist pioneers held that the public school was a dangerous place to educate God’s children, whom they believed were not just to be exposed to information and knowledge, but were to be introduced to Jesus Christ and trained for service.
The grand objective of Adventist education is the transformation of lives, or restoring in “man the image of his Maker” (Education, p. 15-16). Adventist education is wholistic in that it seeks “the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers” (Education, p. 13). To be sure, Adventist education is also intended to equip students with competencies that will enable them to successfully compete in the broader society, and aims to develop within students a passion for service (Education, p. 13). Yet the acquisition of a diploma or degree is really secondary when it comes to Adventist education. Primary to the endeavor is character formation and development, helping students to become independent thinkers, and getting them to embrace a Christian worldview that is grounded in the Holy Bible.
A partnership involving the home, church, and school, Adventist education begins long before children enroll in church school (Deut. 6:4-9). Indeed, schooling and education are not to be confused. Godly parents play a key role in the education of their children, and are to be viewed as educators themselves. Christian parents know that they should seek to help their children to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (The Adventist Home, pp. 297-301).
Equally important in the education of God’s children are Christian teachers, who truly serve in a pastoral role and are instruments of grace and reconciliation in and out of the classroom. The personal relationship that teachers have with Jesus Christ, the Center of Adventist education, qualifies them more than anything else to educate God’s children.Adventist education calls for vision and passion, as well as commitment and sacrifice, to achieve its mission. It requires unwavering commitment and courage, and it cannot succeed without the power and work of the Holy Spirit. It must be admitted that Adventist education is no longer the centrifugal force it once was in the denomination, as evidenced by enrollments that are spiraling downward and the multiple closings of schools nationwide. In our postmodern, post-Christian society the call of the church school has been muzzled and silenced, and today many Adventist schools are struggling to keep their doors open.
In How to Kill Adventist Education and How to Give it a Fighting Chance, Shane Anderson argues, rather persuasively, that the survival of Adventist schools depends on them becoming and remaining unapologetically Adventist. Anderson believes that Adventist schools are struggling because that which is distinctly Adventist has been discounted, and he contends that Adventist schools will flourish if we were to be unashamed about our mission and prophetic calling.
Currently, there are 7 schools in the Lake Region Conference school system, one being a K-12 school. We remain committed to the notion of Adventist education, viewing it as a distinct advantage, and we are currently exploring how we may strengthen and grow our schools. We thank God for our team of committed Christian teachers and principals, courageous school board members, dedicated Superintendent of Education, and parents and members who continue to believe in and support church schools.
In the end, Adventist schools are intended to contribute to the preparation of people for the soon return of Jesus Christ. Adventist pioneer Ellen G. White believed that the work of redemption and education are one and the same, and that school buildings are just as important as church buildings. Christian schools are theaters of redemption and reconciliation that, not surprisingly, the enemy of God wishes to close. We should not and cannot allow that to happen.
Why? Because Adventist education provides a distinct advantage!
[Source: Lake Region Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (12/30/2016), https://lrcsda.com/goals-adventist-education-a-distinct-advantage/]