R. Clifford Jones

Have you ever wondered what our schools would be like if money were not a problem? What would schools in the Lake Region Conference look like if constituents fully bought into Christian education? As the 2017-2018 school year begins to pick up steam, I’ve been reflecting on what Adventist education in the Lake Region Conference would look like if the answers to the propositions that follow were positive or affirmative.

Some comments made by Superintendent of Education Renee Humphreys during a recent meeting of the Conference’s Church Ministry Council triggered my reflection. Here are the propositions, in no particular order of importance.

1.  What if constituents were more acutely aware that we are living in the time of the end and that the second coming of Jesus will occur sooner than we think?

2.  What if we really believed that all God’s children should be taught of the Lord? (Isa. 54:13).

3.  What if we wholly embraced the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, a concept that mirrors the statement of Ellen G. White that Christian education is essentially a partnership of the church, the school, and the home?

4.  What if we viewed Adventist education not as an option, but as a mandate?

5.  What if we valued our parents, refusing to take them for granted, and treated them with respect and as true partners and key stakeholders in the education endeavor?

6.  What if we were to pursue excellence in all things related to education, meaning we eschew shoddiness and mediocrity with respect to curriculum design and instruction?

7.  What if we were to put our better foot forward with regards to customer service, treating students, their parents and sponsors, and the public with the respect they deserve, such as responding to their inquiries and concerns with timeliness and care?

8.  What if we were to put our money where our mouth is, walking our talk of commitment and support for education with concrete, sacrificial financial support that is dependable and sustainable?

9.  What if we saw Adventist education as a blessing, not as a burden that strains the church budget?

10.   What if we saw the church school as a center of redemption and transformation that transmits values that matter?

11.  What if the Bible were the core text in our schools and the Adventist in Adventist Education was an uncompromising commitment to Adventist distinctives?

12.  What if Adventist education were indisputably a journey to excellence whose twists and turns were viewed as challenges to be negotiated and conquered, not as debilitating and deadly detours conspiring to bring our efforts to a screeching halt?

13.  What if we honored and celebrated our teachers and all who work in our schools (including volunteers), letting them know that their ministry in and out of the classroom is deeply appreciated and makes a significant difference?

14.  What if we knew that Adventist education offers a distinct advantage?

15.  What if we were more creative and innovative with our instruction?

It is high time that we react to these propositions, which are not intended just for armchair intellectualism.   We must shun what Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “paralysis of analysis.”   We must be willing to match our eloquent words with bold, creative action that rescues and restores our schools, some of which are tottering on the brink of extinction.

As the Year of Adventist Education comes to an end, let us commit to making our schools vibrant and relevant.   Let us envision and work to have schools in which cutting-edge instruction is occurring and students are excelling to the heights of their God-ordained potential.   Let us sacrifice to make Adventist education affordable.  Let us do all we can to make our schools the head and not the tail.

Now, more than ever, we need to come together as one in the pursuit of our mission, which includes educating God’s children for life in this world and the one to come. Together, we can accomplish infinitely more than we will ever accomplish individually.

We need to be intentional and focused, knowing and believing that, in spite of the challenges we face, we will triumph.   Our attitude must be that of boundless optimism that does not discount or dilute the challenges before us, but exemplifies that all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23).

Thank you for all you will do to make the 2017-2018 school year one of growth and gains in our schools.

Your partner in mission and ministry,

R. Clifford Jones