It is now bothersome to me when I hear that our youth are “our future,” although I’ve said it before, not understanding the message it implies. I have used this term with the intention of conveying the fact that our young people are the future leaders of this church and the expenditure of our resources should prove just that. The message it implies though, is that youth don’t play a pivotal role in our church now.
The Bible and history itself teaches us that youth can do a mighty work now. The Bible gives us the examples of Joseph, David, Daniel, and countless others—youth who had the courage to stand for their convictions. History has proven this to be true for great good and for evil.
The Reformation saw Germany become 70 percent Protestant in just one generation, largely due to the schools that were set up by Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. Fast forward 350 years and this same country, Germany, took a course for great evil under Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s mantra was, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” We are all aware of the atrocities that took place in one generation.
Have we forgotten the ages of those who started the Advent movement? It was on the backs of youth that the end-time remnant church was formed. History will repeat itself. Ellen White states, “When heavenly intelligences see that men are no longer permitted to present the truth, the Spirit of God will come upon the children, and they will do a work in the proclamation of the truth which the older workers cannot do because their way will be hedged up. In the closing scenes of this earth’s history many of these children and youth will astonish people by their witness to the truth, which will be borne in simplicity, yet with spirit and power”—Adventist Home, p. 489.
Seventh-day Adventist education plays a critical role in these closing scenes. The following is not a comprehensive list, but will highlight seven essentials that will enable our schools to work more efficiently and effectively now.
1. Prayer: We must always be asking for the will of God to be done. He will open doors and close doors. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
2. Distinctiveness: The mission and standards of our schools are the same as those of our church. If we are just like every other school, there is no need for Adventist schools to be open.
3. Village Approach: An old proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Schools will only work if there is a cohesive effort from church, school, and home. You can offer your time, talent, or money.
4. Excellence: Be excellent in the training of the whole child. Excellence in academics (mental), manual labor (physical), sharing/living the everlasting gospel (spiritual), extra-curricular (social).
5. Community Service: Incorporate service learning immediately. It is “marketing 101” and it spreads the gospel. If your school or church disappeared, would your community know you were gone?
6. Heavenly Schools: Our homes are to be a piece of heaven on earth. What about our schools?
7. Converted Teachers: This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Pray for us. Teachers need to believe and implement the previous six essentials. I want this to be the final generation. Our youth can do a mighty work now. Ask yourself what you can be doing now for a school near you.
Trevor Schlisner is the Northern New England Conference superintendent of schools.