Christ in the Classroom: Mission of Adventist Schools in the North American Division

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Every teacher who has to do with the education of young students should remember that children are affected by the atmosphere that surrounds the teacher, whether it be pleasant or unpleasant. If the teacher is connected with God, if Christ abides in his heart, the spirit that is cherished by him will be felt by the children. If teachers enter the schoolroom with a provoked, irritated spirit, the atmosphere surrounding their souls will also leave its impression.[1]

When it comes to the education of our children, we realize that their teachers play a significant role in their lives. In many ways, they take the place of authority over us, the parents. Phrases like “…but that is not what my teacher said” or ”… but that is not how my teacher does it” make us very aware of it.

Let us take a closer look at the teachers in Adventist Education who influence our children’s lives in the North American Division (NAD).

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Dr. Robert McIver, Director of the Scripture Spirituality and Society Research Centre at Avondale University, conducted a survey at the NAD Teacher Convention in August 2018. The survey was commissioned by the General Conference and asked the teachers a variety of questions about their role in the mission of their school, their commitment to the Church, their beliefs, their contributions, and their personal involvement. The research findings (conclusions drawn from the survey) paint a valuable picture of who the teachers are as individuals who educate our children in Adventist schools.

In order to be an effective participant in the Church’s mission, it is important to see how someone understands the mission of his or her institution. Therefore, the teachers were asked to describe the mission of their school in their own words.

While Leading the students to Jesus (34%) had the highest ranking and seemed to be the most understood mission goal, Education (26%), Preparation for this world (21%), and Service learning (20%) followed very closely as the next important mission goals of the schools. This speaks very highly for the schools, having not only understood the Mission of Adventist Education, which states: “To enable learners to develop a life of faith in God, and to use their knowledge, skills, and understandings to serve God and humanity,” but also having been successful in casting the vision to their teachers.

When the survey participants were asked, “In what ways do you personally contribute to the mission of your school,” more than a quarter (28%) responded that teaching was their contribution, a quarter (26%) stated that being a Christian Model was their contribution, and about another quarter (23%) stated that they support programs as their personal contribution to the mission of the school. It is not surprising that many listed teaching as a personal contribution since it is more than just a job. Teaching is connecting with the students on a personal level to make them successful and it involves more than just teaching strategies and teaching methods, but also someone’s personality. Being a Christian model is also a very important contribution since young people learn by the examples of others. Being involved in their students’ lives by supporting school programs and finding service opportunities are also great contributions because teachers lead by example as they are involved in the support of others or as they lend a helping hand.

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Participants were also asked, “In what ways do you contribute to the wider mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church outside your work duties? Half of them (50%) stated that they were involved in their congregation, about a quarter (24%) stated that they were involved in community service, and others stated that they teach in Sabbath School, go on mission trips, work with Pathfinders and youth groups, are involved in Children’s Ministry, and give Bible studies.

Since Adventist schools are connected to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, participants were also asked to describe the mission of the Church in their own words. More than half (55%) replied that the mission of the Church for them is to share the good news about Jesus or to lead people to Jesus, with an additional 15% saying it is to show God’s love. These findings show that the respondents see the “Great Commission” described in Matthew 28:19-20 KJV—“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen”—as the mission of the Church.

When the participants were asked to respond to the statement, ”I serve the mission of the Church through my work,” the majority (90%) answered that they strongly agreed with that statement. The total agreement increased to 98%.

The participants were also asked about their commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is encouraging to see in the graph below that a majority of the participants have a strong/very strong commitment to the local and worldwide Church.

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Let us look at the picture of the teachers who work with our children in the NAD Adventist schools that was painted through the research findings. These individuals are people who understand the mission of their school and their Church. They are committed to and involved in their churches, lead by example, and contribute personally to the mission of the school in order to enable our children to develop a life of faith in God and to use their knowledge, skills, and understanding to serve God and humanity.

What a beautiful picture of a teacher who follows Jesus’ footprints. Do you support Adventist Education? Are you grateful for the teachers in your children’s life?

If the teacher has the love of Christ abiding in the heart as a sweet fragrance, a savor of life unto life, he may bind the children under his care to himself. Through the grace of Christ he may be an instrument in God's hands to enlighten, lift up, encourage, and help to purify the soul temple from its defilement, until the character shall be transformed by the grace of Christ, and the image of God be revealed in the soul.[2]

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Published by ASTR on 01-06-2021.


[1] Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 191.
[2] Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 197.