“Education is the most important weapon which you can change the church.”
This meaningful quotation is a paraphrased statement by our Division Education Leaders from the famous quotation of the late African President Nelson Mandela (1918 -2013), “Education is the most important weapon which you can change the world.”
This powerful quotation from our Division School Leaders embodies a very salient point that every adult member of the church, from our world leaders down to the very local church members must consider in mapping out evangelism plans. According to Dr. G. H. Akers, “Any church that cannot save its own young people has little to say about saving the world.”
With the statistics below, it is sad to note that our church seems to have lost its priority of saving our own young people.
SSD ENROLLMENT TRENDS
|Indicator||Year 2010||Year 2013||Growth/Decline|
Youth of the Church
378,000 youth of the church in SSD
31% of the 1.22 million SS church members
16,350 students in our tertiary schools or 4.31% of our youth.
95.69 % of our young people are not in our schools.
We are only educating less than 5% of our children.
|JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL||1,032||71.6%||409||
|SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL||375||
Does the data show that we are heeding God’s instruction as written in Isa 54:13 that says, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children”? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The data show that the numbers of fellow Christians who are entrusting their children to our schools are decreasing. SDAs are decreasing. Our church schools and academies are definitely for our children. Where are they now? What does the church members do for those children who would like to enroll in our schools but cannot afford financially?
Every time I hear that some church members sponsor evangelistic meetings and laymen for soul winning, I feel ecstatic. However, is that our primary mandate? The answer is no.
Our primary mandate is to save our very own children, to teach them in the Lord. Maybe one will argue that learning ABCs or 123s may not be evangelism, but we should not underrate the influence and inspiration of Christlike teachers to our children, these little ones who will soon become strong leaders and loyal members of the church, not an additional to the statistics of missing members. So, take into consideration our children and our teachers particularly in our church schools and the roles they’ll play for a better and greater evangelism in the future.
The following Strategic Issues were pointed out in the General Conference Strategic Plan which definitely goes to the basic of teaching our children in the Lord. Through Adventist Education, we can solve these apprehensions of the future of the church.
1. “Less than half of all Seventh-day Adventists worldwide have experienced any denominational education, and many pastors have had limited Adventist education.”
2. “Secular thinking and entertainment are affecting Adventist beliefs and practices.”
3. “There is… significant degree of variation in belief in… landmark Adventist doctrines, including the imminence of Christ’s second coming, the Sanctuary doctrine, and Creation as described in Scripture. Uncertainty and dissent are… evident; even pastors are reporting doubts.”
These issues if left unattended will shatter the very core foundation of the church. Our church needs members who are deeply rooted to our doctrines; intellectual members who can defend the faith they are standing for; and loyal members who are willing to sacrifice for God’s cause.
The answer, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” After all, according to Mrs. Ellen G. White, “Education and Redemption are one.”
As church members, let us therefore review our priorities. Let us revisit our expenditures for evangelism goals. Let us give more attention to young minds that can easily be shaped for eternity. Let us focus on the strengths of our children who can have the passion to make a difference.
Lastly, I appeal to every church member to invest in our schools to make them Center of Influence, and expect new members who will stick with our Church until eternity.
If you love our Church, invest your resources to our children and great shall be our peace!
Lemuel O. Banday is the education director of Central Philippine Union Conference (CPUC).