Cedar Lake, MI—For the first time since 2018, pastors and teachers from Michigan came together at Great Lakes Adventist Academy (GLAA), for a one-day pastor/teacher conference themed “Together in Mission.” Seventy-six pastors and 99 teachers spent Monday, September 19th, discussing how to streamline their individual ministries to be the most effective to the church, school, and community.
Attendees spent most of the morning listening to a panel of six—three teachers and three pastors—discuss practical ways to work together effectively, while also addressing various circumstances that arise from time-to-time in both the pastor’s and teachers’ day-to-day ministry. Audience questions for the panel were texted to Cody Francis, Ministerial secretary, and Jeremy Hall, Education superintendent. “There are difficult challenges that pastors and teachers can face, and being able to openly discuss them is essential,” says Francis. “When pastors and teachers have a strong working relationship, it greatly enhances the ministry of both the church and the school.”
Francis explains that, at times, differences may arise with pastors and teachers due to the particular focus of each ministry. For the pastor, the church is the ultimate priority, while the teacher’s main priority is the school and the students. The various focal points can lead to differences as to how much time the pastor should be spending at the school, or how much money should be given to the school from church budgets. For churches with schools, a significant portion of their budget may be allotted to the school. Some could wonder if they’re seeing the returns on their investments, which can lead to jitters with their budgets.
Michigan Conference is proud to have pastors and teachers that are dedicated to their roles. That dedication can also lead to focusing on little things instead of the bigger picture of the church-school relationship, and the potential for witnessing and evangelism comes through a healthy relationship between the two.
Hall says, “while both the pastor and teacher are in an evangelistic work, it is easy for both to become isolated.” Sometimes, he explains, it is misunderstanding of the individual roles, while other times it is busyness. Francis elaborates that for the majority of cases where there are differences, each party can be led to believe that the other is not invested enough.
“The pastor needs to see the school as a powerful, evangelistic potential, and teachers as evangelistic coworkers. He needs to see students as not only people he can reach, but as missionaries he can train and mentor,” he says. “The teacher should see their role as reaching out not just to the students, but as a vital part of the church in ministering to the families of students and non-students alike.”
The conference was held out of a desire for “pastors and teachers to come together and work in an even closer way,” Hall says. The Ministerial Association and Education Department sees the beauty in what can come out of pastors and teachers working in harmony to minister to their churches, schools, and communities.
After the panel discussion, the pastors and teachers worked on group projects. Hall is grateful that pastors and teachers were able to get together to “emphasize the beautiful relationship that both roles play in a church community, and how it is critical to have respect, communication, and clarification for mission success.”
All of the groups’ ideas were compiled and sent to pastors and teachers for their personal benefit. The day ended with pastors and teachers kneeling in prayer, pleading with the Lord for wisdom and guidance as they went back to serve and evangelize their schools and districts.
Pastor and teacher roles vary greatly, but in essence, they are the same: they minister to those in their vicinity, whether it is church members or students in a classroom. They nurture, grow, and teach those who are searching, and they point all to Jesus. “We know we need to have both the pastors and the teachers united on the same page in mission in order to move the conference forward—and constructive dialogue is part of that,” says Francis. This event was, according to Hall, “the beginning of forging relationships even tighter than they’ve been in the past.”