Redefining School Chaplaincy – Part 2

Philosophy and Mission May 27, 2024

Part 1 of this series discussed the challenges faced by the Adventist church and the unique ministry opportunities that can be found within school environments. This series continuation elaborates on the specific calling of school chaplaincy, emphasizing its educational and spiritual importance in the lives of students.

In the book The Chaplaincy Phenomena, Tim Mander, CEO of Scripture Union Queensland expresses, “The success or otherwise of school spirituality revolves around the chaplains themselves. These men and women of God are Christ’s ambassadors on the frontline of ministry… although their past experiences are varied, the one thing they have in common is their commitment to helping children and young people reach their full potential in God. Their form of witness is more wholistic than mere proclamation, they show their faith through their actions… they bring a Christian world view that provides answers to the big questions of life—why am I here? Only when this question is grappled with and adequately answered, can one have true peace.” 

School chaplaincy is more than handing out cool drinks at parent-teacher nights, driving a school bus to sports day, or playing basketball with students in order to be pals with them. Ellen White, in her book Education, writes words that are still a truism, “Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is a need of a broader scope, a higher aim. True education means more than the perusal of a certain course of study. It means more than preparation for the life that is now… It prepares the student for the joy of wider service in this world and for the higher joy of service in the world to come.”

Paul explores this concept of education further in Romans 10:14–15. In this context, he places the task squarely at the feet of the school chaplain: “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’” (NLT).

Research has shown that Adventist education makes a difference in the retention of church affiliation for young people. Roger Dudley’s longitudinal study found that 67% of those educated in Adventist schools remained Adventist after completing their schooling years, whereas just 19% of those educated in non-Adventist schools identified as Adventist after graduating. 

Solomon wisely noted in Ecclesiastes 4:12 that when the home, school, and church work together, “…a three stranded cord is not easily broken.”

In her book Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, Ellen White reminds us who has been behind the Adventist education system and its growth over the last 150 years, stating, “Take hold of the schoolwork in earnest and make it what the Lord desires it to be.” Furthermore, in her book Education, she affirms the value of Adventist schools in light of the Three Angles’ Messages in Revelation 14: “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!”


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