In 2009, the Atlantic Union Conference ministerial and education departments led a Pastors and Teachers Convention in Providence Rhode Island. To plan this event, union and conference ministerial directors met with their counterparts in education, including the academy principals. These joint planning sessions became part of the spring education council for two years prior to the convention.
After the convention, the departments continued to meet each spring to dialogue about how ministers and educators can work together to nurture the youth in our churches and schools to have a personal relationship with Christ. Four years ago, the youth department joined in this collaboration.
This year it was determined that the departments would establish specific objectives and assess their implementation during each of the subsequent spring meetings. Prior to the April 25 gathering in Ogunquit, Maine, the union departmental directors submitted two objectives that would represent a unified approach to strengthening the spiritual lives of our children and youth. Following are the joint initiatives that personnel from each department pledged to undertake in this ministry partnership.
Education With Youth:
• Determine Adventist values to emphasize—e.g. the Sabbath, the second coming of Christ, etc.
• Plan joint programs that reiterate these values.
• Prioritize, using timelines, the values selected to focus on each year.
• Coordinate calendars to facilitate joint activities.
• Determine a common creed to be used by all entities, e.g. the Pathfinder Pledge.
• Plan joint mission trips.
• Arrange joint social activities
Education With Ministerial:
• Use required “service hours” to assist churches/pastors.
• Promote in churches the same Adventist values on which youth and education will focus.
• Organize activities for church youth, such as Bible Labs.
• Conduct in churches oratorical and essay-writing contests for church youth.
• Plan joint mission trips.
• Arrange joint social activities.
Ministerial Department With Youth:
• Dialogue with youth, listening to, and gaining an understanding of their views.
• Be intentional about including youth in church operation.
• Empower youth to take responsibility.
• Plan a youth evangelism year—with youth targeting youth.
• Model values for youth.
• Initiate coaching of adults by youth in the use of technology. e.g. using iPhones, iPads, etc.
Ministerial Department With Education:
• Encourage church pastors to support Adventist education by:
1. Sending their children to Adventist schools
2. Publicly promoting Adventist education from the pulpit
3. Providing financial support for the children of church members
4. Providing financial assistance to the children of new believers so they can attend Adventist schools
5. Emphasizing and promoting campus ministries
6. Providing a nurturing environment for Adventist students attending non-Adventist schools
7. Promoting Adventist education during evangelistic campaigns—have booths display information about the schools and resources
associated with the schools.
Youth Department With Education:
• Partner with the education department to plan annual academy leadership training with the goal to strengthen our youths’ commitment to become workers for God in the Seventh-day Adventist Church as well as their communities.
Youth Department With Ministerial:
• Foster a spiritual awakening among the youth and young adults in the church to rekindle a sense of alertness to the prophetic significance of the times in which we live and reignite the flames of hope in the soon return of Jesus Christ.
• Inspire youth and young adults in the church to live in active preparation for the second coming of Christ and to boldly share their faith with their peers.
To ensure the success of these initiatives, the support of all church members is solicited—“It takes a village!” As we see the fulfillment of prophecy and recognize the closeness of Christ’s return, may God help us to remember, “The Lord has appointed the youth to be His helping hand”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 64.
“With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!”—Education, p. 271.
I urge you to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal how you can participate in this effort to nurture the youth in our churches, schools, and youth gatherings.
Astrid Thomassian is the Atlantic Union Conference education and children’s ministries director.