The Adventist teacher holds a unique position as a Christian worker, a position carrying with it a privilege and a responsibility for evangelism such as no other denominational worker can claim.
He does not need to rent an auditorium in a good part of town, build a hall, or pitch a tent. The classroom is his tabernacle. He does not need to distribute handbills, or advertise on billboards, or run notices in the city newspapers. His congregation is provided. Furthermore, he knows when he begins a series of meetings that his congregation will be with him for nine months and for a predetermined number of meetings. He plans his series accordingly.
He has a very select company to teach. Although it is true that the gospel is for all men, regardless of age, social position, economic condition, or mental capacity, it is evident that for purposes of instruction in righteousness the school environment is excellent. The students are near the same age. They are accustomed to accepting the position of willing learners and to acknowledging the leadership of their teachers. Nearly all of them came from Adventist homes and churches, where they have been grounded in the facts of the gospel from early childhood.
Most of those who reach college have already had some years under Christian teachers. Nearly all of them have seen conversion and consecrated living. Many of them know the joys of salvation from personal experience. There is little prejudice to combat. Most of those not already converted plan to give their hearts to the Lord at some time or other. What would not the field evangelist give for these multiple advantages enjoyed by the Christian teacher? .
The school offers a most excellent environment for the combination of public and personal work. The evangelist does the best he can with large audiences, but the majority of those he preaches to never see him except on the platform. He develops techniques for singling out the interested, and has a staff for visiting and giving Bible readings. The teacher, on the other hand, regularly meets his group of twenty to forty in the intimacy of the classroom, where he can watch the expressions on every face and can call the students by name when he wants to test the personal reaction of a boy or a girl to the subject under discussion. If his daily life on the campus and his demonstration of the power of Christ in his life is such that the young people respect his Christian integrity and recognize his love and understanding, they will come of their own accord with their personal problems, voluntarily affording the teacher the best possible opportunity to help them. It is this personal relationship, so common in the school, so easy to reach, and so fruitful of results, if rightly handled, which makes Christian education such a challenging responsibility.
Most of the children and the young people who come to our schools are at least nominally Christian. That is, from the Sabbath school and church, and from the home, they have the facts of the Bible, and they recognize it as the Word of God. They have been taught to believe, to have faith, and to pray. However, all too often the young people "know all the answers," and are nominal Adventists because that is the home pattern, but have no personal experience of the indwelling Christ. They have a form of godliness; but have not yet discovered the power thereof. Unfortunately, there are also young people with an Adventist background who are rebellious or indifferent, and who challenge the very best efforts and prayerful persistence of the campus evangelist.
In the heart-stirring atmosphere of the Christian school young people are forced to face the truth about themselves, whether their religion is immature and merely the continuation of the home pattern, or whether it is a genuine personal experience. Perhaps they begin to reach after a power they see possessing others, but of which they have no personal knowledge. Whatever form the awakening takes, it is a fact that to every boy and girl, to every young man and young woman, who is exposed to Christ in an Adventist school for a reasonable length of time, there comes the invitation of the Spirit to make a full surrender and to begin the development of the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. To most of our students this means a critical transition from home religion to heart experience. The Christian teacher who inserts his influence and skill in guidance at this point in engaged in "the nicest work ever assumed by men and women."
This is the type of leadership which the times demand, and which the church has a right to expect from every teacher employed to guide the young people of the denomination. It is not the privilege of the Bible teacher or the dormitory deans or the head of the school, to the exclusion of the ;teacher of history, languages, vocations, science, and mathematics, or the fine arts. As truly as the education of the head and the hand is the responsibility of every teacher in our academies and colleges, so is that of the heart, regardless of the teacher's subject field. The responsibility for souls lies heaviest, however, upon the shoulders of the gospel ministers who teach the Bible classes. In a special sense they are looked to by the youthful flock as their spiritual shepherds. The finest talent and experience and the most consecrated lives are none too good for this responsible work.
The opportunity for spiritual leadership and for the training of workers reaches its crescendo on the college level. Here the minister deals with maturing young men and young women. Here those who have already decided for Christ can be helped to choose their field of service. Here, by a careful and deliberate process, the human instrument can assist the Spirit in the selection and training of those who are to dedicate their lives to the ministry. Here the intensive training of the evangelist and pastor can be undertaken. Is the evangelist concerned because his work is limited by his human strength, because with so many to reach he can be in only one place at a time, can conduct only one series of meetings, can preach only one sermon at a time? Let him consider the college classroom, where he can train young men for the ministry, and thus through the years multiply himself manyfold as God's instrument for the salvation of souls.