William Miller’s disappointment “Our expectations were raised high, and thus we looked for our coming Lord until the clock tolled 12, at midnight. The day had then passed and our disappointment became a certainty. Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept, and wept, till the day dawned. “
When one catches the spirit of the early Adventists, it is obvious why their disappointment was so great and bitter. Thousands wept until they had no strength to weep. Some were so ashamed to face the mocking world that they dropped out of sight or fled into the wilderness for weeks, even months.
“The essence of the Adventist attitude toward Christian education 44 years after the Millerite disappointment can be captured in two words — caution and apathy” George R Knight Journal of Research on Christian Education Summer 2001, Vol. 10, Special Edition
“Is it right and consistent for us who believe with all our hearts in the immediate coming of the Lord, to seek to give our children an education?” W. H. Ball 1862
James White’s reply “The fact that Christ is very soon coming is no reason why the mind should not be improved. A well-disciplined and informed mind can best receive and cherish the sublime truths of the Second Advent.”
“Concerning church schools it was the unanimous opinion that great care should be exercised in starting out. A poor Seventh-day Adventist school would be about the poorest thing in the world. Adventists are not willing to support Christian schools with either their sympathies or their means.” C C Lewis 1888 Report on the first Adventist teachers’ convention
Philosophical Betrayal at Battle Creek College “There is nothing in the regular courses of study, or in the rules and practice of discipline, that is in the least denominational or sectarian. The biblical lectures are before a class of only those who attend them from choice.” And later, “The managers of this College have no disposition to urge upon students sectarian views, or to give such views any prominence in their school work.”
Ellen White’s response “The religious element should be the controlling power. If unbelievers choose this influence, it is well; if those who are in darkness choose to come to the light, it is as God would have it. But to relax our vigilance, and let the worldly element take the lead in order to secure students, is contrary to the will of God.” E. G. White, Testimonies, 5:14.
1900-1970 Era of small church schools One teacher schools Country locations Go where you are sent Union education office inspected schools
1970-1980 Government funding, DOGS Debate regarding State funding of schools Acceptance that funding in an Australian setting was different to that of the USA Initial acceptance of per capita funding DOGS (Defence Of Government Schools) challenge
1980-1990 The Clifford Era Change from a collection of schools to a system Introduction of the computer age
1990-2006 Growth (Controlled or Uncontrolled?) Decline of small schools Growth of very large schools Single national operation Independent school system becomes a big and competitive business Marketing essential for survival Incorporation
How well do we understand the 21 st Century Adventist?
By 2020, 90% of our membership will have been born in the 21st Century
Living in expectation We have been waiting for Christ to return since 1844. 21st Century Adventists are learning to wait in a different way. Today we enjoy the anticipation rather than the event. ( my parents generation was preoccupied with the ‘how long’ and ‘when’) Older Adventists need to anticipate the second return of Christ in the same way in which the younger generation waits
How long has it really been? To the 21st Century Adventist young person, Hitler, Mao. Roosevelt and Churchill are as distant as Napoleon and Wellington are to us. Thus the events of William Miller and 1844 are long removed. Beethoven was born in 1827, the year that E G White was born. Thus 21st Century Adventists hope for and look forward to Christ’s return not because of historical events in our church history but because of the promise made by Jesus.
Waiting and Working 21st Century Adventists believe in working while waiting (this is not universal but certainly observable). Compare this to 1843 when some Millerites did not plant their crops in anticipation of the second return of Jesus. 21st Century Adventists are interested in environmental reform. Compare this with the ‘Let ‘er rip’ mentality of some older Adventists. The 21st Century Adventist is now more goal oriented to a longer future on our planet than our fathers thought.
Doing the Truth 21st Century Adventists are more interested in seeing and doing the truth than ever before. Try visiting a Sabbath School class run by the young people and compare it with a class being conducted by the seniors; pay attention to the 21st Century Adventists in the young people’s class because they are the ones who will take over the church.
Confirmation of Prophecy Is waiting going to lessen interest in prophecy? Probably not but we need to acknowledge that 1844 is now viewed differently. We affirm the prophecy that affirms how we work as well as wait.
The End of the World 21st Century Adventists are very conscious of these things in a more up-to-date context than they are often credited with. They are not interested in the falling stars of the 19th Century, the dark day or the great Lisbon earthquake. Today, it is in a more modern setting. Even though they may not connect with the events surrounding 1844, we still need to inform them.
Being Right vs Being Faithful Older generations are pre-occupied with being right even more than being faithful. 21st Century Adventists like to be right but it is not so much of a preoccupation. They are more adaptable to repositioning themselves if they discover something is wrong. Our effective witness to the world does not so much depend on being right but being faithful.
Becoming Separate This is our biggest challenge for the 21st Century Adventist Church. In the 21st Century, young people freely associate with ‘other’ fellowships that are often non-denominational. The boundaries around our church are more porous than ever before. It is easier to come in and go out of our church. Therefore our strategies must be more carefully managed. Young people today are not shy of inviting other young people to come to our church.
What can we conclude? The church is in good hands because the 21st Century Adventists have built their faith on Christ. You do and then learn My generation learnt and then tried to do.
EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTRES Greater Sydney171 Northern Australia0 North NSW205 South Australia0 South NSW31 South Queensland105 Tasmania9 Victoria0 ? Western Australia35 TOTAL556 Number of EC teachers (FTE)26.4