The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:6 to, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (ESV).  This verse is something that is taken very literally by many Adventist families across the NAD; many of these families have invested in “training up” their children by enrolling them in Seventh-day Adventist church schools.

A recent study (ICM, 2014) conducted by the Institute for Church Ministry showed that one in seven (14%) local churches in the NAD operates a school on its own. Nearly another one in three churches (29%) cosponsors a school with others in a multi-church constituency. Interestingly enough, this same study showed that there is also a correlation between the presence of a school and church growth. The majority of growing churches (55%) have a school and the majority of declining churches (68%) do not.

Unfortunately, a majority of churches in the NAD do not operate a school (57%).  This means that children in these congregations are either attending public school, a non-Adventist private school, or are being home-schooled.  Without the presence of a strong Adventist influence on their education, it becomes even more vital that these churches provide strong programming and training to support these children.  Faith-enhancing Sabbath school classes, engaging mid-week services, and weekend outreach activities are just a few of the ways that churches can gain access to these students’ hearts and minds.

The majority of growing churches (55%) have a school and the majority of declining churches (68%) do not.

Another area of need is support for parents.  While church school provides a portion of the education children receive on church doctrine, Bible teaching, and the foundation of faith, parents are also a primary source of information for their children.  Without the presence of Seventh-day Adventist education, parents may feel overwhelmed by being the main source of spiritual influence and information for their children.  It is vital that churches come alongside these parents, providing support, resources, and by helping shape their children’s young hearts.

There is an old saying that states, “It takes a village.” It is not just a parents’ job to raise a child, but it is the job of their church family, as well.  What is your church doing to minister to students who are not attending an Adventist school (even if there is one in place at your church)?  What have you recently done to minister to the parents of your congregation?  We must work together to ensure a Heavenly future for “our” children!