Posts Tagged: Pastors

Please Count!

Whether it is self preservation or ego that makes us do it, most pastors/members I know fudge slightly on the high side when it comes to their church attendance numbers. I don’t believe people do this maliciously or to intentionally deceive but innocent or not this self-deception regarding church attendance numbers is detrimental to the growth of the church.

If we don’t know our actual numbers we can be deceived about the health and growth of the church. I first realized this when I was a member of a very large church many years ago. To my casual eye and I am sure to most the members eyes this church seemed like a healthy growing church. There always seemed to be a healthy number of folk filling the pews each week. The foyer seemed crowed before and after church. The quality of the service was great. If someone had asked me, “Are you a member of a growing church?” I would have responded with a firm, “Yes!” But one day I thought to myself, “I don’t remember seeing very many baptisms at this church in the last few years.” And I began to question, “Is this church really a growing church?”

I decided to do a little research and what I discovered was this: at the beginning of the year we had just finished the church membership was 3000…now a couple months into a new year the church membership was…wait for it…3003. The church had grown by a net gain of 3 people in more than a year. I was astonished, I was disappointed, I was sad. I thought I was a member of a growing church. What I discovered is that I was a member of a very kind, a very busy, a high quality church…but not an evangelistic, growing church.

When we count (this is especially for the pastors) we are forced to take a true account of whether or not we are leading our churches to be healthy growing communities. If we don’t count, we can remain deceived; thus limiting the urgency to develop the evangelistic fervor needed within every church.

Now there are always those that will resist the value of counting.

They will say:

“Numbers don’t matter!” I would respond, “That if we see each number as representing an individual that Jesus died for, then they certainly do matter!!”

They will say:

“We shouldn’t be driven by numbers!” I would respond, “I agree. We should be driven by the heart of Jesus wanting to reach lost sheep. And one of the only ways to know if this is happening is to count.”

They will say:

“Numbers are relative.” I would respond, “They are indeed! A church of 16 that adds 3 new members in a year should celebrate. A church of 3000 that adds 3 new members in a year should recalibrate.”

Please count! Count every Sabbath to see if you are growing.

Then after you finish counting, start analyzing. There is no point in gathering data, unless you’re going to use that data to help improve in specific areas.

Due to the fact that we don’t just count at our church, we also analyze; these numbers take on extra value to our ministry. Let me give an example.

This past year, 2013, our average attendance was 356 individuals attending per week; that was an improvement of 16 people per week over the previous year. We are growing. Not as much as I believe we could, but we are growing. There is more though to those numbers than just growth; as we analyze the numbers we see that our 1st service grew by an average of 15 people, and our 2nd service grew by an average of 1. This has helped us to have discussions about what is appealing to people about first service and what may be unappealing to folk about second service? What are the demographics of the two services? Is the 1st service growth new member/visitor growth or long time members just choosing to go earlier in the day? All this is looked at because we count.

Also because we count we have found that we are unhealthy as a church in some areas. Last year we baptized or brought in through profession of faith 60 new people. Yet our average attendance for the year was only up 16 people per week. Our attendance definitely increased after all those baptisms, but that means we were actually a little below the previous years averages prior to the baptisms. Why was this? What was happening? Also, are we keeping all our new baptisms? Yes, for the most part we are. Then that means previous members are no longer attending as much? Who? And why not? We discuss this, look at this, try to work on this, and we know about all this; why? Because we count.

Another area counting has helped is that based on the data collected the past five years, analysis tells us  there are 4 months that are exceptionally high months of church attendance & three months that are exceptionally low in attendance. So what do we do with this information? We schedule for our strengths. We don’t actually try to improve the attendance for the months that are low; five years is enough to show us that these are months that folk just don’t attend church. Rather than wasting time trying to get people there those months we accept reality and instead focus on growing the average months the rest of the year. We also take advantage of the exceptionally high months by making those services as evangelistically appealing as possible. How many churches plan big events in months that are traditionally low and then wonder why no one showed-up? Too many I’m afraid! Why? Because they don’t count.

Has this made you decide to count?

I hope so, because…

…a lack of counting will lead to acceptance and even an over glorification of the status quo.

A lack of counting can prevent growth.

A lack of counting thwarts strategic planning.

A lack of counting may cause you to miss the members that are missing even though you’re adding new folk all the time.

A lack of counting is dangerous and hopefully after you’ve read this blog…

…a lack of counting is something you’ll never have to worry about again!

Please count! It will make a difference!

 

Help! Adventist Ed is Dying!

I haven’t blogged in quite a while & I haven’t written a blog on one of my most passionate topics in a while, so I am going to do both now!

Adventist Education…

Over the last two plus years I have had the opportunity to serve as a member of the Pacific Union Conferences’ Executive Committee. Every committee we receive reports. Reports on baptisms, tithe, race demographics, education. Let me just say all of them are scary sad…well the race demographics are good if you’re not Caucasian, us white folk need to learn how to share Jesus…but that is another topic for another time…but the rest are frightful.

The statistic that saddens me the most, because I credit Adventist Ed and praying friends and family with leading me to Jesus, is the consistent decline in Adventist Education primary & secondary enrollment! Consistent decline, not an aberration, a trend, a consistent trend. And from what I hear it’s not just our Union in North America that is experiencing such declines.

So what do we do? Well take ’em or leave ’em here are 13 of my thoughts on what should change in Adventist Ed in no particular order.

  1. We should go back and analyze all the principles of the book “Education” by Ellen G. White and ask ourselves, “is our school applying and living by all these principles. Some methods may be different, but are all the principles from this book being incorporated and maintained within our schools?”
  2. As parents we should never criticize the teachers in front of our kids! And even if we side with our child we should not do it in such a way that our children will learn to disrespect their teachers. Just within the last 5 years I have found out there were times my parents went to bat for me with a couple of my teachers. I’m actually glad I didn’t know this then; if I had I might have been even more disrespectful than I already was. In our home the rule always was, the teacher is ALWAYS right, even when they aren’t, because he/she is the teacher. Unless they ask you to do something immoral or they physically abuse you, they are the teacher. Period!
  3. We need to remember that our education system was established to serve the church, not the other way around. What do I mean by this? Our schools were established to develop missionaries (in whatever field God lead them in to) for Jesus through the church. This means that the children were taught that the value of a career was only found in as much as it gave opportunity to lead people to Jesus and connect with His body, The Church. This also means that schools should not have their calendars dictate the calendar of the church, rather school calendars should be built in such a way as to decrease the time students and their parents are away from their local churches. Third, schools need to recognize that the growth of the schools is dependent upon the growth of the church, thus a financial system should not be put in place that would hamper churches from providing ministries and training that leads to growth.
  4. When I was a child many of the teachers in the schools also taught Sabbath Schools. Now almost not a one can be found. To at least some extent this may be in part to number 2 above; if you’re criticized by parents at school why would you want to come to to church and be criticized as well? That is a fair enough point, but often the reasoning I hear that teachers don’t teach Sabbath School is because they need a break from the kids. Again though the counsel we received in the founding of our education system was that school teachers should also instruct on Sabbath mornings so that children would see their teachers in service to God & His church. Yes, it is hard and wearisome, but maybe that could be lessened by the following…
  5. Decrease the busyness! This needs to happen in church and school. We are doing far too much of unnecessary things! I speak with parents all the time that are run ragged (and their pocketbooks are shrinking) by all the extra events they are taking their kids to at our schools. Both church and school need to impress upon families the value of being at home and spending time in a home environment. This can’t happen if there are a million different activities happening week in and week out at both church and school. Also, our teachers are then exhausted and the last place they want to be on a Sabbath is with the kids…but that is exactly where they need to be on a Sabbath, at least for that one hour of Sabbath School time.
  6.  We must change the way finances are managed within our schools it is a stress that pastors nor teachers should have to deal with, in fact here is the counsel given, “This matter should not be left to ministers or committee men, who have no time to take this burden. The teachers are not to be left with this responsibility. These matters of school business call for talent which has not been provided (she is saying not provided by the conference which she says it is their duty to provide).” 2TT 474
  7. Of course we must also acknowledge if we are in financial difficulties why that is, “If our educational work had been carried on in accordance with the instruction given for our guidance, the dark shadow of heavy debt would not today be hanging over our institutions.” 2TT 474. This is a repeat of number one. If the system as a whole is suffering then the system as a whole must have gone off course at some point. Let’s get back to the basics of who we are what we’re about.
  8. We need to stop trying to raise money through gimmicks: raffles, benefit concerts, special meals, etc.. We should do as was done in the Bible, place the need before the people and then pray for God to sustain. By doing the events above we actually make it harder to receive the next time. We are teaching our people to give only if they have received.
  9. Devalue sports! I am one that absolutely loves sports! I played organized sports all the way up into my first year of college. In our schools though sports has become of far too much value. These “friendship tournaments” are not so friendly. But even if they were, they are just another thing that take away from the true purpose of our schools, which is not competition but service to Jesus. You want to take kids away multiple weekends a year, take them to serve the poor, not serve themselves in sports. Take them to spend time in nature or at prayer conferences. Not sporting events that we try to make pseudo Jesus centered by having a church service with all the teams on Sabbath morning. I again love sports, I don’t mind folk playing sports, but in most of our schools where one maybe two days a year are given to “community service days” isn’t it shameful that one to two days A WEEK are given to sports either through games or practices? Also, am I the only one that finds it sad that we can afford an abundance of sports activities yet most of our schools are now lacking those who teach outdoor education: gardening, camping, whatever? Isn’t it sad that most our schools no longer have true home economics instructors, true librarians, true shop and wood working teachers? Is anyone else depressed that there aren’t high quality bands and choirs in ALL our schools? But hey, we have sports. This saddens me.
  10. We need to stop being silos! Churches and church members need to affirm ADVENTIST EDUCATION, not a particular school! By the way churches should stop being silos too! A pastor that tries to make a member feel guilty for going to another Adventist church should go into a closest and pray ’till their priorities are straightened out. But I digress…the question shouldn’t be, “which Adventist school are our kids going to?” The only important question is, “are they attending an Adventist school.” And guess what, this includes home schooling! Adventist parents that home school should be as soundly affirmed and prayed for as those that teach within our school systems! (And Adventist teachers that teach outside of our Adventist schools should be affirmed and prayed for as well since they are local missionaries in a foreign field!) I believe we have devalued Adventist education by fighting over schools! When you make the thing of value the institution, the structure, the building, the location, rather than the message and the movement, then ultimately that value will fade; because the only people that value institutions, structures, buildings, and locations are the people that built those institutions, structures, and buildings. Teach people to value a philosophy, affirm the ideals of Adventist Ed above all, criticize no one, and all our schools will ultimately benefit!
  11. Pay teachers more! I wish somewhere along the way we had created a system where every time the health institutes fork out higher salaries for their administrators they had to at the same time set some aside to increase the pay of our Adventist educators. I pick on the Adventist health system b/c they are paid a lot more than the rest of us and thus must have the money somewhere.  But somehow we need to compensate teachers better…
  12. That said, I think we should screen better for teachers as well…a pastor has to explain his/her calling, talk about their faith in Jesus, share his/her commitment to the teachings of our church, discuss their views of evangelism and reaching people for Jesus all before we are hired (and yes I know some bad ones are still hired). Having a Dad that was a teacher in the Adventist Education system for 35 years. A sister that has been in the Adventist Education system for 13 years. Having dated some teachers pre-marriage, I can guarantee you these questions are not often if ever asked. Even having two former teachers on my church staff, I have been told that they were never expected to know what we believe and why we believe it, they were never even firmly taught what we believe and why we believe it…well they had to know that the Sabbath was the Sabbath & we sleep when we die, but as far as the expectation of really teaching our students what we believe and why believe it. They were not held accountable on church attendance. They were not asked about their personal daily devotions. They were not asked if Jesus was their absolute best friend. If Adventist Education is truly about educating for eternity, shouldn’t these things come up?
  13. Last but not least, to make it a nice even 13…our schools should be prayed over in every single Adventist home!

Take ’em or leave ’em as a parent that will soon have three kids in Adventist Ed, these are my thoughts.

P.S. I would encourage everyone to click on this link and buy (after Sabbath of course) the documentary “The Blueprint: The Story of Adventist Education it is wonderful! In spite of all our difficulties I still think Adventist Ed is the best option, but we could be so much better and not dying a not so slow, but oh so painful death!

 

They Hear Your Words, But They Do Not Put Them Into Practice

Could there be any more depressing of text to the heart of a preacher than Ezekiel 33:30-32?

“As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.” –Ezekiel 33:30-32

One of the most painful things for myself and I am sure other pastors as well, is to observe folk that “like” our sermons but don’t take them beyond the walls of the church. Ezekiel in this text is told that the downfall of the people of Israel is in part due to the fact that they listen to the words of God but fail to put them into practice. How many of our churches are struggling, how many of our homes are falling apart, how many lives are personally crumbling because of the very same reality in our day?  In fact this is such a key point of the text that God tells Ezekiel this twice,

“My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice.” 

Then again…

“Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.

What an indictment of the church in North America! What an indictment of the Laodicean Church in North American!

But wait pastor, before we agree to quickly!

Something that is even more disappointing and indicting is this: I think there are actually pastors that preach expecting people to hear their words, but never put them into practice. There are pastors that prepare like they are just filling time. Pastors that study like they have nothing new to learn. Pastors that pray for habit not for conviction. Pastors that step into pulpits each week because it is their job, rather than their Divine calling.

As a preacher I want to say to all congregants, and hopefully this is true of your pastor as well:

  • I don’t want you to “like” my sermons. I want you to apply them.
  • I don’t want my sermons to generate accolades, I want them to generate life change.
  • I don’t want you to remember the funny, I want you to remember the Biblical.
  • I don’t want you to follow me, I want you to follow Jesus.

If we are, if I am preaching sermons that are only worth a surface level appreciation, if I am preaching sermons that are only worth a pat on the back, if I am preaching sermons that only entertain & do not take you to the Bible then tell me/us so that I/we can change.

The church in North America is dying…not a slow death…a rapid death! We are falling like Israel! In part because, “They Hear Your Words, But They Do Not Put Them Into Practice!”

Congregants be accountable–say, “Enough is enough! I will not pass through another sermon, another Sabbath, another worship service unchanged, without application to my life.”

Pastors be accountable–say, “Enough is enough! We will not prepare one more message, preach one more sermon, teach one more lesson without the expectation of life change amongst God’s flock.”

Enough is enough for all of us!

 

The Four Most Important Evangelists in The Adventist Church

If you follow the world of Adventist Evangelism you are familiar with ministries such as It Is Written, Amazing Facts, Breath of Life, & Voice of Prophecy. You’re also familiar with the great evangelists of Adventism, some of y’all have seen them so many times on 3ABN or The Hope Channel that you almost feel like they are your own personal friends, Doug Batchelor, Shawn Boonstra, Mark Finley, Alejandro Bullon, John Bradshaw, Carlton Byrd, and more. But of all the evangelists in our denomination, The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which ones are the most important, the most vital to the growth of our church?

I’m going to give you my top four. They are…

  1. Parking Lot
  2. Groundskeeper
  3. Janitor
  4. Greeter

These three individuals & one inanimate object are far more important to the growth of your church and thus the growth of Adventism at least here in North America than any of the names I mentioned above. Why do I say that? Because these three evangelists have a weekly impact on the growth of your church that the other three do not have (unless of course one of them is your Pastor:)).

Pastor Nelson Searcy and other church growth surveyors report that churches have roughly 7 minutes from the time a guest pulls into your church parking lot to make them feel welcome and give them a compelling reason to come back. Now a lot of folk may be skeptical about that statement, but if you’re a church goer then that disqualifies you from being able to speculate on the mind of the un-churched. The un-churched don’t think like church folk or act like church folk or talk like church folk, but they are the folk we need to reach, which is why these four evangelists, parking lot, groundskeeper, janitor, and greeter are so important to the life and growth of a local church!

Let me tell you about the value of each one:

Parking Lot

Church growth studies state that if a parking lot that is more than 80% it is a deterrent to guests. When I first read this in a book by Russell Burrill I was skeptical, but I’m a pastor which makes me even less qualified than the average member in the pew to analyze the thoughts of an individual searching for a church, so I took the study to the church Elders and there in our meeting one of our Elders raised his hand. He said, “Pastor 8 years ago when my wife and I first move to the area we came to this church; we pulled into the parking lot and didn’t see many openings. The place seemed too crowded so we drove to another church in town.” They weren’t even here 7 minutes and they left. Praise the Lord they gave us another chance, they have been a great asset to our church! But we could have lost them because the evangelism of our parking lot dropped the ball! How can we help with the evangelism of the parking lot? Well first off pastors we can actually pay attention to it. One thing we did prior to moving to two services in Visalia, as our church grew, we not only paid attention to how many people were sitting in the seats but we also sent a Deacon to count the empty spots in the parking lot. When we were getting to full we began to ask our members to park elsewhere. There was a parking lot next door and we got permission to use it, we also had members park out on the street at the curb. Our church having the evangelistic heart that they do complied and our parking lot was once again ready to be an evangelist to our guests.

Groundskeeper

Are your bushes trimmed, is your lawn mowed & green, do you have flowers blooming? The first thing that people see when they pull up to your church are these things and whether we pay attention to it or not, it is noticed by guests. If you don’t believe me think about the last time you pulled up to a persons house whose yard was falling apart. Did you notice? Of course you did! Especially if you were about to go inside. In fact you probably thought in your head, “If this is what the outside of their house looks like, I wonder what the inside looks like?” We’ve all thought it (if you haven’t you may be the one with the ultra shabby yard:)). Well do you think folk pulling into a church think any different? NO! And what is one of the most important rules of evangelism? Start by focusing on the positive. What do most our main stream evangelists start their meetings with? Daniel 2. Why? Because they want folk to see the credibility of the scriptures and honestly probably the credibility of us, in that we were so “smart” to show them the meaning of Daniel 2 (sorry mild sarcasm there:)). But this is a positive message for a positive start. It is no different each Sabbath morning, we want to start things off on the positive. And the positive is a green mowed lawn, trimmed bushes, and flowers blooming. Pastors are you paying attention to the evangelism provided by your groundskeeper?

Janitor

Really this evangelist follows in the same line as the previous. If your church is unkempt and dirty you are communicating a message you don’t want to communicate. Bathrooms need to be clean! If they are like ours in Visalia (literally the worst church bathrooms ever) then you really have to go out of your way to make them as useable as possible! Papers should not be lying around, the walls should be clean, the tables at potluck should be clean. I was once speaking at a small church in the Southern parts of these here United States. I was the guest so I showed-up early that gave me the opportunity to stand in the foyer and look around while I waited for the Sabbath Schools to finish, what I noticed made me wonder how many guests came back. There was a coat rack that probably had half the coats hanging on the rack and the other half were lying in a heap on the floor. Sitting on top of the coat rack were stacks of what appeared to be old Adventist Review magazines along with other various papers. Everything just looked disheveled. We don’t get points if the outside is beautiful but the inside it is a filthy mess, either Spiritually or as a literal church structure. Your janitor evangelist is important!

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Greeters

This evangelist may be the most overlooked because most people consider their church friendly. But just because we as members think our church is friendly doesn’t mean that is what your guests experience. And unfortunately what has been discovered is that members almost always rate themselves higher on the “friendly” meter than guests do. All the other 6 1/2 minutes of a guests first encounter with your church are important but the first 30 seconds that a guest steps inside your church are the most vital and will leave an impression of your church that can be very hard to shake! I’ve found within Adventism that most greeting ministries are the same. Hand-out a bulletin and be done with it. In some churches that is even an overreach of expectation. One of my associates went to preach at another church in our area, when he walked into the church foyer there was no greeter. There was a table though with a stack of bulletins. My associate greeted the table and took a bulletin 🙂 To be a greeter is not to be a bulletin dispenser. A greeter is an evangelist! Every pastor should do training sessions with their greeters. Have a plan for how to greet and where to greet. Yes, where matters. Guests should not have to come to the greeters, I can not count how many times I have had to tap a greeter on a shoulder in a church I was visiting and ask for a bulletin. One pastor friend told me how at a church he was serving at the greeters refused to come out from behind the hospitality table, they said if the people wanted something it was clear where they needed to go. Sounds so hospitable! 🙂 I find the greeting ministry of our church to be one of the ministries I spend the most time thinking about and praying over!

So there are your four “most important” evangelists in Adventism! From personal experience and observation I believe if a pastor will take a little more time focusing on even just these four areas, he or she will see the retention of their guests increase.

 

That Vibrating Demon

What is the vibrating demon? Well for me it is my iphone. Yes, I know a phone really is quite a necessity in ministry these days. Why? I’m not sure, considering millions of pastors did quality ministry without ever needing to answer a phone, and millions after them did quality ministry without ever needing to answer a text. Yet, here we are, they are for some reason a necessity of ministry; but still for me at times my iphone is the vibrating demon.

I say vibrating demon because my phone is almost always silenced due to my career being a constant in & out cycle of meetings and so it vibrates to get my attention. And I am ashamed to say that I respond faster to my phone than I do my wife, my kids, maybe even God. Why? Because we are driven by the immediate and not by what is truly most important.

Well the other day something happened and I have decided I will no longer let the vibrating demon control me.

I had about an hour free in my afternoon before needing to head out to our school for a meeting and I decided to run home

Stop Daddy. Put the phone away!

Stop Daddy. Put the phone away!

quickly and check in on the family. When I arrived home my wife and kids were hanging out by the pool, don’t hate me because God has called me to Pastor in California 🙂 I sat down on one of the pool chairs, set my phone down on the end table by the chair, and began to talk to my wife. After a couple of minutes of conversation my 4 1/2 year old and 2 1/2 year old boys came running over to me and started asking excitedly, “Daddy, Daddy will you swing us?” I told them to hold-on while I finished talking to Christina (my beautiful wife) and then I said, “Ok.” My 2 1/2 year old loves to help me get up. Whether it is standing-up from a chair or getting out of bed he loves to think he is pulling me to my feet. So he begins to tug on my arm and as I am getting up I reach down and grab my phone. Landon and I take about two steps towards the swing and then he stops me, and in a very serious voice he commands me, “Put that in your pocket Daddy! Put the phone in your pocket!” I looked at my wife and she gave me a look that communicated, “How cute” & “I’ve told you so” all in one. Then I looked back at Landon, he was serious we weren’t budging ’till I put the phone away. He hasn’t learned the pocket doesn’t stop the distraction, but in that moment I learned the phone needs to be turned off!

I would rather be fired or asked to leave my church because people don’t feel like they can get a hold of me than to ever have my boys think again that the vibrating demon is more important than them. If my 2 1/2 year old has already figured out the distraction the vibrating demon is to his Dad, how is he going to feel as a teenager after years of that instrument of ministry and others taking away his Dad’s attention?

So tomorrow in the morning when I am with my boys the phone is going off…not just on vibrate…not just in the pocket…off!

Pastors (and all parents really) if you feel like your phone is a permanent extension of your hand due to calls, texts, twitter, email, Facebook,  your kids and your wife feel it too, so turn it off!

There are enough demons out to get us and our families, don’t let the vibrating one that you have control over be one of them!

Adventist Education: It is “Something Better”

While many in North America want to be just like us when it comes to our Educational system, a large percentage of Adventists are abandoning our schools.

Why?

Because of a perceived reality that just isn’t true!

That our schools are less than the best…

Ellen G. White wrote,

““Something better” is the watchword of education, the law of all true living. Whatever Christ asks us to renounce, He offers in its stead something better.” –Education, p. 296.

Adventist Education is that something better! Don’t believe me how ’bout we look at the data? What about what others are saying?

What about this headline taken straight out of the pages of the Los Angeles Times,

“The Conversation: Pursuing successful education reform might mean going the way of Adventists”

Or what about the fact that Martin Doblmeier a non-Adventist award winning producer and director is making a documentary for PBS, (tentatively titled: “Teach the Children Well”) examining the success of Adventist Education.

In a clip I saw of this video there is even a line addressing the fact our own people are not attending our schools, “with all of this proven success, Adventist schools are still shrinking.”

So why is everyone else other than “US” (Adventists) impressed with our schools?

Because of the following data:

A 4 year study was done on Adventist Education. In this study 800+ schools in the United States, Canada, & Bermuda were studied. 51,706 students participated in the study.

And the findings show something amazing!

Our students were ABOVE the National Average in:

  •  in all subjects (science being one of the highest)
  •  for all grade levels

ABOVE predicted/expected achievement:

  • in all subjects
  • for all grade levels
  • for all school sizes
  • regardless of ability level

That last line in all red is one of the things that shocked researchers most. Unlike most studies that throw-out the lowest end, those that may qualify as special-ed students. These studies included every single student that attended Adventist schools and found that even our students that were considered special-ed/needs students scored on average above predicted/expected achievement.

Specifically researchers looked at the Sciences as that is considered to be weaker in Adventist schools for two reasons:

  1. We teach Creation and that macro-evolution is a false theory
  2. We do not have (in most of our schools) the resources to have the adequate labs and classrooms to provide the services many other Christian and Public Schools are able to provide.

So what were the results?

  • Above average in science in every grade
  • Higher in science than would be predicted by ability scores
  • Above average for all sub-areas of science
  • Highest sub-area is Scientific Inquiry
  • Higher science the more years in Adventist schools

There were differences in the sciences found between the smaller Adventist schools which constitutes more than 60% of our schools (and when they are speaking of smaller they are talking about schools in the elementary level even smaller than Sierra View Junior Academy about 90 students K-8 & comparable to Armona Union Academy for High-School level).

We would expect differences in these areas though–the larger schools were better–wait…what STUNNED researchers:

In every category the differences were consistently in favor of the smaller schools.

In fact the amazing thing about Adventist Education that adds an entirely different level of separation between our school system and every other:

“Students in schools with fewer financial resources do as well as those with more financial resources.”

Think about all the talk in the public arena about the schools that have and those that have not? And the unfair advantage that is available to kids in schools with great financial resources.

In the study of Adventist Ed, there is no distinction. Even our 1 room classrooms with absolutely no science labs, still on average score above the national average in science and all other subjects on national standardized tests.

And the last little detail I want to share with you that has been found in studies addresses a fundamental desire that is in most parents hearts, to see their child have greater opportunities than they themselves had:

It has been found that a child that works their way through our Adventist Educational System will likely advance to a higher socio-economic level than their parents.

The way it was stated is this:

Adventist Education is the only known system by which it is highly-probable that an individual will advance to a higher socio-economic status in ONE GENERATION.

Why?

Because the watchword for Adventist Education is “Something Better.”

This is why PBS is having a documentary made & the Los Angeles Times is doing stories on our educational system. They want to know and understand why.

And maybe we as Adventists, should pause, and take a second look as well.

But here to me is ultimately why we should take a second look at Adventist Education:

“In the highest sense the work of education and the work of redemption are one…” –Ellen G. White, Education, p.30

Our church is in a crisis. More than half of our young people are leaving the church and saying, “No” to the Adventist life and beliefs. This can be thwarted but part of the change comes with connecting to an Adventist school.

You see the Valugenesis study found three key elements to a childs spiritual development. Spirituality and Adventist values taught at home, a quality local church, & attending a quality Adventist school.

  • For the young people that are members of our church but really don’t have any of these three they found over the course of a generation of students only 35% had developed a mature faith in Jesus Christ.
  • For the young people that have one of those quality venues in their lives they found 55% of them had developed a mature faith in Jesus Christ.
  • For those with two quality venues 69% had a mature faith in Jesus Christ.
  • And for those with all three quality home, church, & school 75% had a mature faith in Jesus Christ.

Now some people may say, “you see I don’t need the school there is only a 6% difference between the two quality venues and the three quality venues.”

Well, let me just say I hope no one would say that. Let us hope that every parent would say, “even for just a 6% greater opportunity of faith, I would do anything for my child!”

These are the numbers but here is the testimony of more than 81% of students that attended Adventist schools:

“Attending an Adventist school is the most important thing that has helped me develop my religious faith.”

That is the testimony of my life. I accepted Jesus through the influence of my Academy Bible teacher, Pastor Neil Richmund & my Academy peers. I am forever grateful to Spring Valley Academy for the impact that wonderful school had on my life. And more so I am grateful that my parents made the decision from day one that there was no other option for our family, all three of their kids were going to Adventist school whether we liked it or not our entire lives. The schools weren’t perfect and nor were we, my older sister and I went the way of the world for a time, but we had our roots and we are both back walking with the Lord. She teaching in an Adventist Elementary school, and me working as an Adventist pastor. And my little sister praise the Lord never wandered and she recently had the great privilege of enrolling the next generation into an Adventist school, Armona Union Academy.

If you haven’t considered it or you have decided Adventist Education just wasn’t worth it for your family; Will you pause and see past the perception to the reality?

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**The statistics found in this post are from a presentation by Dr. Elissa Kido

The Ordained Women Pastors of China

It seems from this video that the female pastors see themselves a lot differently than the administration of the church explains them to be, “Ordained simply to meet government policy.” They see themselves as Adventist leaders with a mission! I shed a few tears at the end of this video. Please watch it is only 8 mins 52 secs.

Pastor Dwight Nelson–A Mighty Throng of Women: A Second Look at Male Headship

Faster Pastor: Episode #2: Unity in Diversity

Here is our second installment of Faster Pastor. Our title was Unity in Diversity, I’m not sure how well we stuck to that topic, but we started down that path…

Join Albert Handal, David Asscherick, & myself as we welcome Pastor Ron du Preez from Michigan, Conference to the discussion.

Faster Pastor: Episode #1: God’s Providence & Training Smart

Albert Handal, David Asscherick, & Chad Stuart