Fix Adventist Schools: Focus on Jesus, Change Church Leadership, Increase Pay

It would be interesting to see that attempt, but I don’t see how. The primary way to richly fund local ministries is to stop pumping tithe into a black hole of self-serving administration. But the General Conference would get whipped into a frenzy over that, screaming about “the storehouse” until they passed out. (It would be nice if they’d actually read Malachi for once, but never mind that.)

I guess they might be willing to put out a blast on the members for not being “faithful in offerings” or “good stewards” or whatever, since that seems to be the only thing the GC excels at these days.

There was an interview on Spectrum a couple of weeks ago with the retiring president of Georgia-Cumberland Academy. It was interesting to see him say the NAD neither needs, nor can afford, to keep open so many colleges and academies. If not, then taking things local would be more logical. (But of course, we can’t trust our own logic or common sense either, at least according to the quarterly a few months ago. Cough.)



But then wouldn’t Jesus be much more powerful if considered a spiritual entity rather than a physical one?

In other words, I have no quarrel with @frank_merendino ‘s claim that Jesus changed his life.

But if he insists he has encountered a physical being by this name, I-and pretty much everyone else in the world-will want to meet that Jesus, personally and physically.

Similarly, if Jesus’ resurrection is a physical one isn’t it decidedly much less powerful than the spiritual revivification of a “being” who can be anywhere, all the time?

Isn’t Jesus’ gospel much more compelling, and doesn’t it seem more plausible, that his’ “spirit”, or consciousness-aka, The Holy Spirit-can be ever present and remain with every person, even unto the end of the world?


Apparently that “physical” being wasn’t a normal one if it was able to pass through closed doors and seemingly ascended into the heavens (or into another dimension?)

Michio Kaku (physicist) tries to explain in his book, Hyperspace the existence of at least 10 dimensions, possibly even 25. It changed my ideas of possibilities, and made obvious we don’t really know much about the universe and how it works.

Another book, even more thought provoking is The Fire in the Equations by Kitty Ferguson who worked with Stephen Hawking. Hawking ended his book, The Theory of Everything by asking, “but what puts the fire in the equations?” Ferguson tries to answer that question. The book was described by Hawking as “A clear account of the ultimate question.” John Polkinghorne describes the book: “Ferguson weaves together science, philosophy and theology with verve and clarity,” I’ve read it at least twice and referred back to it many more.

Things aren’t what they seem to be.


There are some good points here. Accountability is huge. Our local conference doesn’t seem to care if the teacher or principal is sub par, incapable, or toxic to the school. If they are breathing, they are perfect for the job. And when approached about putting the teacher on an improvement plan? Simply ignored. And don’t even think about not re-hiring.
The conferences have simply become a good ole boys’ club. We are Christian’s—so everyone gets a free pass. I still value the experience of our local SDA school…however, after being involved with our local school and the way that I have seen family members treated at boarding academies, I struggle with paying $500/month for a day school, and 18k/year for a boarding academy. I can’t really see that sending my kids to a church school vs public has encouraged them to stay in the church. It certainly didn’t for me.
And the pay is low—because we work for a higher power we should expect to pay employees less or take advantage of volunteers? The points in this article are just the very tip of a very large iceberg, one that I feel will melt before any difference can be made.


Unfortunately these 3 points won’t fix sda schools. As a parent I wanted a dynamic education for my child that alao followed/was based on biblical principles. My local sda schools gave me the latter only. But there was no rigor, no thinking, no inquiry. The instruction felt like rote learning from back in the 50s, the curriculum antiquated. How could I leave my son in a school like that? I myself have been in education for over 24 years, I have created innovative learning experiences for schools and districts. I would have rather been doing so for the sda church.


I’m pretty sure that all we know and understand is activity, or the potential of it, and no longer believe that there’s any such thing as “things”.

(I know. This kinda takes the legs out from under my former materialism. But is that such a bad “thing”?!?!)


Amen about the 5th graders and dinosaurs…the church as a whole needs to figure out what they actually DO believe!


Excellent article from someone who knows of what he speaks and should be listened to. There seem to be lots of experts on this subject who haven’t been in the trenches like Gale Crosby has. Some of these experts make sweeping generalizations that are far from the truth. I for one, can never repay Adventist Education for the amazing ways it has enriched my life and helped shape me into who I am today. I wish we could focus more on how we can collectively work to save and strengthen Adventist education instead of dismantling it.

Probably most of us here have been through Adventist education including myself (college). I’ve also been part of educational system as teacher and principal; and am also thankful for it - but we have to make a distinction between the quality of education and the social - environmental experience. The educational benefits come down to a handful of specific teachers who have contributed by who they are (were). In the world market place there is something to be desired. Living in the Adventist bubble 24/7 provides security and a sense of safety; but if you’re interested in going beyond you have to burst the bubble.


Yes, there are two problems about that question - first, the responding silence, but even worse, the lack of encouragement to ask the question.

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It’s too late. And there is no appetite at the top level of the institutional church to attempt a fix. Given the failure of evangelism in the NAD, it’s truly unfortunate that keeping our children in the church has not been given the significance it deserves, through a high-quality educational experience available to all our children whose families are church members. I required my (now adult) children to pay a portion of their tuition once they reached high school. After his freshman year, my son came to me and said he wasn’t getting his money’s worth. He had a typing teacher who did not know how to type and the history teacher simply read the textbook aloud. I know, because I visited his classes to see for myself…and this in a community with a big SDA hospital system. We enrolled him in a Christian Reformed school the next year, where he finished his high school education with a superior curriculum (Latin, AP math and science, etc.) and it did not cost any more than the SDA school. Why? Because the Christian Reformed church subsidized the school to a level of excellence.


I appreciate Crosby’s submission. The three points are a universal need for consideration worldwide. However, it is not a global decision / directive to set the ball rolling, rather initiatives from smaller units or subsets, such as institutions, conferences or unions. A great turnover is at least manifest in our schools in the developing countries, owing to ‘better’ offers in the public schools. This was unheard of! For example in Bugema Adventist Secondary School, a union school in Uganda, teachers fled government schools for better offers in the church school two to three decades ago. Crosby’s analysis objectively regarded may be an intervention important for regaining the place of Adventist Education globally.

Gale, good memories of briefly teaching with you at RJA. Thanks for your perceptive article! J Walters

I went to 2 SDA elementary, 2 academies, 4 colleges and universities grades 5 to 20.
There were many wonderful teachers who taught us to be honest and truthfull. There were others who had us memorize EGW quotes down to exact punctuation.
It was all later blown apart with the realization that EGW visions and messages from the throne
of God where plagiarized from other religious books. The church knew about this for a century
and kept it’s deception hidden as long as possible. When exposed it lied and attacked those trying to correct this. As long as students and parents are to busy to discover the truth, the scam will continue. Leadership, higher pay, etc only helps shore up the ponzi scheme. The system depends on students not searching for truth,but instead accepting deception and false teachings.


Religion, being an art form, does not demand proof of what the artist experiences, which is not the same as the consensus of the norm. Artistic imagination imagines the unimaginable, expressing it in the various forms art takes. Finding the historical Jesus is like scraping layers of paint off a painting to find the real person at the bottom. If one doesn’t like the way art conveys information about existence, which is the most important thing for humans creating meaning for life, that is because one is not exposed to enough art or contemplated how important it is in the creation of what we call human.

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They also say medicine is an art form, but I wouldn’t hire either Pablo Picasso or Jackson Pollock to do my face lift!

JK, I think I get what you’re saying.

I’d be interested to know, however, how many people are capable of thinking of religion as an art form which they’ve created on in their own, with an image of god that looks very much like a self portrait, rather than a strict template they can use for propaganda purposes and/or putative instruction in abject dogma?

Hire a teacher/professor who gives and expects excellence in return–a teacher who will train a student not what to think but how to think–and see how long it will be before they are grilled by church tribunals more interested in preserving theological purity. The learning process is severely handicapped when comparative learning is devalued or invalidated. The youth these days are a lot more savvy due to learning afforded by the internet–for better or worse. They see through stodgy “leadership” that seek to impose limits on learning. Experience has shown what happens when the word “evolution” is whispered. The youth don’t fight about it. They just leave. They’ve got better and more interesting things to do (by their reckoning). When those in the positions of authority are so easily threatened by new and/or different ideas in an attempt to legislate what will be taught, it becomes indoctrination rather than education. Then comes the realization that it is only outside of the SDA educational system where a well-rounded comparative education can be had. This can be contributory why youth are choosing a life outside of the church.


During my Adventist education there were three years that were enjoyable: first grade, eighth grade, and senior year at academy. From grades 3 through 6 the teacher was an unmarried matron. Violate her strict code of ethics and for sure you were headed for corporal punishment: a brass-edged wooden ruler applied to the back or palm of a hand, or a leather whistle cord applied to the forearm. Long sleeves? Roll 'em up, boys. Welt marks would last for several days. For maximum effect, administration was always done in front of classmates. I was one of several boys that seemed to receive the worst of her wrath.

We would hear words of praise from the principal about the dedication of the teachers and how they could be getting paid so much more if they were in a public school but they chose/choose to be in the Lord’s work educating our youth. The dedicated teachers might not have lasted for long in public education. Yet it was still a climate where the teacher was always right and parents were expected to fall in line and not question.

Three years of life in a boarding school were of little improvement. But the notable difference shifted toward emotional/character abuse from both staff and students. My parents ran afoul of the administration when they challenged the incompetency of a music teacher. When my parents took me off campus for continuing studies, in retaliation I was banned from all but one music-related activity on campus for almost 3 years.

When college rolled around there was no question that it was going to be an SDA institution. After two years I finally mustered the courage to ask my parents if I could transfer to a Lutheran University. To my surprise they responded “What took you so long?” Not long after a transfer, One day I turned to my roommate of six years, who had shared in many of the academy and college experiences, and said, “Wow what a difference between… are we really different people? aren’t we the same people we’ve always been… what has happened?” He shrugged, “I’m not going to try and figure it out; I’m just going to enjoy it.”

How successful is Adventist education? Given the public school failings of recent years, families of even modest means are looking for “affordable” private schools. If a family makes their way to an SDA school after performing due diligence, are aware of the curriculum including faith-based classes, and where rules and standards are understood well in advance, just what is the problem?

How is SDAducation failing? Part of the answer can be found in an atmosphere where teachers aren’t allowed to teach for fear of losing their job, students that secretly record class lectures that could substantiate any tone of heresy, and then by excluding students not of the Adventist faith. The SDA system didn’t start fading overnight. It has been a steady march to irrelevance. It’s not going to be an easy comeback if ever.

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