An experienced educator discusses data that highlights the impact of Adventist schools.
DDoes Adventist Education Make a Difference? Does attending an Adventist school, college, or university do anything more than attending any other good educational institution? Is what you pay for Adventist education an expense or an investment? Is Adventist Education Really Evangelism? Does it lead to spiritual development?
These are some of the questions that John Wesley Taylor V, associate director of education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, attempted to answer in a pre-recorded presentation to members of the General Conference Executive Committee (EXCOM) on the 14th. April 2021. Taylor’s presentation, titled “Join and Stay: A Look at the Evidence on the Role of Adventist Education,” reviewed several studies that shed light on various aspects of education as a redemptive enterprise.
“Adventist education is the longest and most important evangelistic event of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Taylor reminded hundreds of EXCOM members around the world who virtually gathered for the Council. spring 2021.
Following a simple calculation, Taylor said that a child attending an Adventist elementary school receives evangelistic teaching for at least 800 hours. If a student completes all levels of education at an Adventist educational institution, it can add up to more than 37,400 hours, he explained. And every Adventist school at all levels is a place where evangelism takes place, Taylor said. “This means a total of 9,489 outreach sites, with 111,360 evangelists and 2,044,709 assistants,” he said.
Effectiveness of Adventist education
Taylor reminded Adventist leaders that a few years ago, the CognitiveGenesis study looked at factors that contributed to student success in Adventist education. Over 800 schools participated, with 52,000 students in Grades 3-9 and 11. whatever the capacity levels, ”he shared.
He also referred to the so-called Adventist school effect, which shows that “as the number of years in Adventist schools increased, the difference between those who attended Adventist schools and the national average … has become more pronounced in terms of success, as well as ability. . “
Another significant result, according to Taylor, is the difference in graduation rates. “In the United States it is on average 82%, but in Adventist schools it is 98.4%,” he said.
Beyond academics: join
Academics aren’t the only or the best advantage, Taylor suggested. He quoted Jesus when he said to his disciples, “What do you gain if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? (Mark 8:36, NLT). Regarding education, he cited Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White, who in her book
Foundations of Christian Education, wrote that when it comes to Bible-based education, “the most important thing should be the conversion of their students” (p. 436).
With this backdrop, Taylor discussed the role of Adventist education in relation to the Adventist Church. Beyond the more than 463,000 baptisms in Adventist educational institutions from 2009 to 2018, he explained that studies show a clear link between attending an Adventist school and church membership, and vice versa. “[A young person] who does not attend an Adventist school are 13 times more likely to never join the church if they do not receive Adventist education, ”he said, citing a study on the subject. “Adventist education is a mission, and we must affirm and elevate the central role of Adventist education in the evangelistic mission of the church. “
Beyond academics: staying
Adventist education also plays a vital role in helping young people stay connected to the Adventist Church, Taylor said, explaining that a study showed that in many demographic groups, about 50 percent leave the church before the start of the day. mid-twenties. On the other hand, he referred to seven studies that have helped examine various aspects of the relationship between Adventist education and retention in the church. “Together, they present a consistent and compelling picture,” Taylor said.
The Valuegenesis study, for example, spanned over 20 years. This study examined 2,200 grade 12 students in Adventist schools. According to Taylor, the study found that the more years of Adventist education, the greater the person’s declared loyalty to the Adventist Church. “They showed greater belief in the foundational teachings of the church, and they were more likely to intend to remain Seventh-day Adventists by age 40,” he reported.
The study also looked at factors related to the development of religious faith. The most important factor was attending an Adventist school, Taylor said. “Eighty-one percent of all students said that ‘going to an Adventist school is the most important thing that has helped me develop my religious faith,’” he explained.
Another research project mentioned by Taylor was the Youth Retention Study, which showed a positive relationship between Adventist education and a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and a commitment to personal Bible study. It also affected the importance of religion in the life of a young person. “These are results that are reinforced by Adventist education,” Taylor explained.
A measurable impact
In the latter part of his presentation, Taylor referred to several doctoral theses on the link between Adventist education and youth retention in the church. Even though they focused on different populations and were based on different geographic areas, each study cited showed the significant impact of Adventist education on the likelihood of a young person remaining active in the Adventist Church.
The opposite is also true, Taylor said. Citing a specific research project, he pointed out: “Those who have not had the experience of Adventist education are disproportionately more likely to become inactive or quit. [the Adventist Church]. “
The results of these studies are also supported by data from the Adventist Church’s Bureau of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR). In their “Leaving the Church” study, the researchers found a clear difference in church retention between those who attended Adventist educational institution and those who did not. The difference was even more marked for students who completed their primary education in Adventist schools.
These differences shouldn’t surprise us, Taylor says. “While there are important relationships between retention and Adventist education at every level of education, the strongest relationship is found in its early years,” he explained. “This is something that suggests early Adventist education is a powerful retention factor.”
A close connection
Are the membership and retention of children and youth in the church associated with their participation in Adventist education? “Based on the evidence, the answer to this question is ‘Certainly’,” Taylor said. “There is a consistent and compelling relationship between attending a Seventh-day Adventist school and the likelihood that that child or youth will join and then decide to stay in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And this is true for different times, for different places and in different populations, ”he said.
“Adventist education makes a difference. Not only does it effectively prepare children and young people for science, language, history and technology, [but] he regards each student as a candidate from heaven. Adventist education makes a difference. Adventist education educates for eternity, ”he said.