Hello, my name is JP Willis II, and I am the Vice President for Education for the Southern California Conference. It is my pleasure to join you today to continue our series on our mission and vision.

“Discipleship and Leading Others to Christ” is one of five strategic objectives for members of the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. This objective is based on Jesus’ commission to His disciples, as He said:

“…Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” That is found in Matthew 28:18-20.

The commission is intentional and requires action. Traditionally, such intentions are thought of as literature evangelism, religious tracts, large-scale evangelistic campaigns, or Daniel and Revelation Seminars. We have launched health fairs, food distribution services, and thrift store ministries. All these avenues have brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands, but there is one avenue not normally viewed as a tool to bring about discipleship—Adventist Education.

The group called “Grow,” a ministry created by Kenny and Elle Campbell, highlights three ideas that connect to what Adventist Education does in discipling our young people (https://growcurriculum.org).

First: Discipleship Is Living, Not Learning.

This school year, our educators are serving over 1,800 pre-kindergarten to 12th grade students. Time spent with them is at minimum 180 days per year. Each day, we average six hours together, totaling at least 1,080 clock hours in a year. Beyond the average is afterschool tutoring, school clubs, class and field trips, mission trips, summer enrichment programs, and more. Adventist Education is an experience that is lived. Time spent with students includes eating, playing, singing, and praying together. During the time, we are modeling, aiming to counsel them on how to maneuver and manage relationships at school and home. We partner with parents and guardians helping their child find their calling in life. Adventist Education is an experience that evolves into lifetime relationships.

Second: Discipleship Happens in Community.

Spending time together undoubtedly creates community. In community, we draw from, lean on, learn from, and grow with each other. Jesus, while on earth, created community with His disciples. His disciples expanded the community. In their community of believers, they worked in harmony with each other, sharing resources so that others in the community weren’t lacking. They were together in ways that created a sense of belonging, comfort, and safety (Acts 2:42-47). Adventist Education draws on that same model. We intentionally create communities whereby teacher and students work together, sharing space and resources with each other. In time, a real sense of belonging, comfort, safety, and security is experienced. It is in this type of environment discipleship is cultivated and is more likely to grow in school among our students.

Lastly: Discipleship Is a Process.

Discipleship is not a quick trip to the local mini-mart, purchasing a snack that immediately satisfies. Discipleship takes time. It takes investing in the lives of our young people until they come to a point of owning their faith. Adventist Education is a long-haul experience. We may not see the fruits of our labor in three months or three years, but we do see the buds populating the vine. Buds like asking how they fit into God’s plan; taking a personal interest in Bible study; behavior that came to us with rough edges but are now smoother. Buds like a young man or young woman committing to be baptized for Jesus and live life for Jesus.

Our SCC Office of Education honors students who declare discipleship to Jesus through baptism. When students get baptized, we gift them with a Bible. Last year, we gifted 32 Bibles. That Bible represents their Adventist Education experience, community, and process toward discipleship. 

Thank you for watching. We appreciate your support of Adventist Education in the Southern California Conference. We invite you to join us next time, and don’t forget to like and subscribe. God bless.