A Closer Look at Adventist Education & the Church’s Mission
by Daisy F. Orion
As of 2015 We have 8, 208 educational institutions around the world, representing more than 1.9 million students1 who have had exposure to the gospel through the ministry of 102, 778 teachers! What a privilege to offer so many young people such an opportunity! What a valuable part of our Adventist mission! And yet so many of our schools face severe financial challenges. How can we, as a fellowship of believers, alleviate this?
"If we feel that Adventist education is an important part of the church’s mission, we should be even more encouraged to give our offerings cheerfully and faithfully and return God’s tithe."
Ellen White’s counsel was to establish schools outside of the cities, where the air, the influence, and the opportunity for wholistic education was better (The Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 421). Therefore, many of our schools are situated on prime property, often with amazing views. Sadly, this land is sometimes sold in order to fill growing financial needs, thereby dwindling the value and the potential of the property. Surely there are better ways.
While students pay student fees, these fees are usually not enough to cover the operating costs of the institutions or to pay the staff. How are the primary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities funded by the church organization? Primary schools are usually the responsibility of the local church and its constituents, while conferences sometimes pay the teachers. Secondary and tertiary institutions generally fall under the charge of our unions and/or divisions. These administrative entities are, in turn, funded by the tithe and offerings of regular church members. This is important to note, because it means that every member is also supporting our Adventist institutions by their faithful stewardship.
If we feel that Adventist education is an important part of the church’s mission, we should be even more encouraged to give our offerings cheerfully and faithfully and return God’s tithe.2 In this way, we will be doing our part to meet the needs in this area of God’s work and help reduce the fees at our schools, so that many more can afford an Adventist education.
Another significant measure that can be taken is for each institution to make use of either volunteer or employed fund raisers for the schools. Members should feel free—after returning their tithe and their regular offerings—to also give to projects, and to include our schools in their giving.
1 http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2015.pdf. Accessed 2/21/2017.
2 The use of tithe for education work is limited, according to the Working Policy (2015-2016), p. 585.Also see Counsels on Stewardship by E. G. White, chapter 21, The Use of Tithe, pp. 101-103.