THAT promise of a 10,000 per cent increase staggers the imagination, doesn't it? But there it is as plain as day: "If more attention were given to teaching parents how to form the habits and character of their children, a HUNDREDFOLD more good would result."—The Ministry of Healing, p. 352 (emphasis supplied). Have you ever thought of a "hundredfold" in this way? The strength of the church is determined by the strength of the homes in that church. Weak homes mean a weak church, strong homes a strong church.
To assist the busy pastor in his endeavor to train parents, the Home and Parent Education section of the Department of Education is dedicated. Perhaps a review of the objectives and the work of this section will enable a minister to know where to turn whenever he desires help in this field. First of all, each and every church is encouraged to have an active Home and School Association. Some have been under the impression that the Home and School Association is an S.D.A. version of the P.T.A., an auxiliary of the church school—not of any particular service to a church without a school. But such is not the case. The present association is to serve every home, whether there are children in that home or not.
There is a reason, however, for this misunderstanding. For nineteen years (1922-1941) we as a denomination had two separate organizations: one called the Home and School, which was an auxiliary of the church school and was composed of patrons and teachers, and the other called the Home Commission, which was devoted to teaching parents. At the General Conference of 1941 these two organizations were merged into one and placed under the direction of the Department of Education. From then on the Home and School organization has endeavored to foster the interests of both the school and the home. However, this organization went by two names—Home and School in churches with schools, and Christian Home Council in churches without schools. This division of name tended to make a division in purpose. It was found that many Home and School organizations were content to raise funds for the school but failed to conduct study groups for the parents; whereas the Christian Home Councils were content to become study groups without fostering Christian education for the children.
To bring about oneness of purpose and to serve both the home and the Bible study material by the late Christian Edwardson school one name was chosen in 1956. Since then the present Home and School Association is to serve every home—homes with children and homes without children, united homes, divided homes, broken homes. It is concerned with the infant, the preschool toddler, the school child, the teen-ager, the young adults, the husband and wife—all who live in a home. It is also to serve every school—one-teacher schools, multiteacher schools, elementary and intermediate church schools, and day academies. It is concerned with child ingathering, pupil motivation, teachers' welfare, parents' interests, and financial aid. Because it serves every home, a Fall Council action recommends "That a Home and School Association be organized in every church."
For the Whole Family
This association is charged with the responsibility of keeping the entire church informed on such vital subjects as love, courtship, marriage, family worship, family finance, in-laws, homemaking, food for the family, first aid, health and safety, mental hygiene, worry, fear, anxiety, child guidance, discipline, the teenager, and the aging. This information is given in the form of programs, lectures, panel discussions, counseling, study groups, research projects, reports, activities, visual education, and a lending library.
These Home and School meetings are for the whole family. The parents are encouraged to bring their children and have them sit with them during the first part of the program. Then after the picture, demonstration, or special exercise, the children are taken to their own room, where a very delightful, profitable program is planned just for them. In their "corner" tliey make scrapbooks, have a courtesy drill, play games, sing, and tell stories. A special informative program is prepared for the children at each Home and School meeting.
Such an important meeting as this, including the whole family, should be at a time when the majority of church members can attend. This, of course, will vary from church to church, but some have found that prayer meeting night once a month is an ideal time. What subject is more important than the home? What could equal 10,000 per cent increase of good accomplished? Some pastors give the entire evening to the Home and School, whereas others combine it with the prayer meeting, giving part of the time to a devotional study and the rest to the Home and School. Some churches find that Saturday night is the best time for them. Others have Home and School at the same time the Pathfinders meet. We defeat our own purpose to strengthen the home when we constantly separate the family with so many different meetings. If father goes to church board one night, mother goes to choir practice the next night, ariu junior to Pathfinders the following night, we weaken the family. To be strong, the family should be together.
Special Study Groups
As necessary and valuable as the general meetings are, they can never accomplish all that the study groups can. Expectant mothers might like to study prenatal care, parents of small children might like to review the principles of child guidance, young married couples might like to study homemaking. These special study groups can meet as often as they desire and conduct their research in a manner that will be the most profitable to them.
Here are some of the study groups that have been tried:
1. Child guidance
3. Prenatal care
4. Mother—and baby care
5. The teen-ager
6. Life after fifty
7. Home nursing
8. Cooking class
9. Sewing circle
10. Interior decorating
11. Home finance
12. Home gardening
15. Home orchestra
The qualifications of the instructor and the availability of materials must be considered before a study group is organized. For child guidance, from birth to puberty, the "Christian Home Series C" is very practical. Each lesson is an independent unit in itself, and can be studied at any time without having to have some previous lesson. Each topic gives thought first of all to what the subject actually is, why it is necessary to study, and then suggests how the problems can be solved. At the close of each lesson the check list can open up a free discussion that should be very profitable to all. There is enough material in each unit to keep a class interested for two or three hours.
Wholesome Activity Projects
Activity Projects can be the very life of your organization. Without them, even with very entertaining programs, the Home and School would soon weaken and die. The progressive leader will have a good wholesome activity program going the year round—not so many that they weaken one another, but enough to give all who desire a part. Here is the combined list of activity projects that have been reported from various churches:
1. Social Newlyweds, Anniversaries, Family retreats, Dinners and picnics
2. Civic Handicapped children, Orphans, Cooperative mothers' club, Child day-care center
3. Evangelistic Vacation Bible School, TV and radio programs, Dedication of babies, Christian Home Week
4. Church JMV's,Pathfinders, Summer training camps, Summer work for teen-agers, Care for children at general meetings
5. School Family census, Child ingathering, Financial projects,School fairs
6. Study Groups Mothers' Societies, Young married couples, Homemakers
One of the activities in which the minister can take a leading part is the family retreat. Having the entire family—fathers, mothers, and children—out by the lakeside over the weekend, offers the minister an opportunity to teach certain Christian principles that would be most difficult to give in any other way. The songs sung, the stories told around the campfire, the sermon preached under the canopy of heaven, the nature trail, and the fellowship with others will long be remembered. In this way many a nonbelieving husband will be drawn nearer to his family and closer to the church.
Dedication Service for Infants
Another activity in which the minister plays the leading role is in the dedication of the babies. True, the infant receives little benefit at the time, but in later life he is drawn closer to the church that thought enough of him to have a special service for him. The parents hear the words spoken and feel that the church is interested in them and in their child. An alert Home and School leader can be of great assistance on these occasions, He can send written invitations to the parents, which makes the occasion more meaningful to them. He can see that cushions are available on which the mothers can kneel, or that corsages are furnished. He can see that the certificates are ordered and signed. There is much the leader can do to add to the dignity and delight of the dedication service.
Home and School Lending Library
The Home and School lending library is of inestimable value to the church. Some organizations make this library available to the entire church every Sabbath before and after services. A table is placed in the foyer or in a special room where members of the church can select the books they desire and take them home with them until the following Sabbath. As we know, some of the families who need help the most never join a study group or even attend the general Home and School meetings, but when junior develops a problem or sister starts going with the boys, the parents begin to seek help.
Keeping books on the home before the congregation every Sabbath helps to emphasize the importance of home training. The attendant at this library table could also give information. That is why we suggest the sign on the table to read: "INFORMATION AND LENDING LIBRARY." Not only could this person give information to visitors about the local church but he could keep the members posted about our boarding schools, summer camps, and other conference activities. And most interesting of all, church news and announcements.
Where to Look for Guidance
"To whom does the church Home and School Association look for guidance and materials?" asks the busy pastor. In reply we say, first, to the conference educational superintendent. He is the official to foster all Home and School activities within the conference. Next, the union educational secretary fosters the work for the union. The General Conference speaks through The Adventist Home and School magazine. Here will be found the current information and the suggestions concerning its work. Published three times a year, it contains materials for the Home and School programs and suggestions for the "Children's Corner." Many parents find this magazine, although primarily beamed to the leader, the best source of information on the home that can be found anywhere, and subscribe for it regularly. The book reviews enable the Home and School librarians and the parents to keep posted on the latest and best publications on the home. Also the film committee previews educational films and makes recommendations to the field.
Christian Home Workshop
Another service offered by the Home and Parent section of the General Conference Department of Education is the Christian Home Workshop, the purpose of which is to strengthen the home. All are invited to attend—children, young people, adults, members and nonmembers. In fact, it is not uncommon to find that the non-Adventist attendance increases from night to night. Usually the workshop begins Sabbath with the main preaching service and closes Thursday night. The days are open for counseling with parents and the night services are open to the public. The night program includes a book display, moving pictures, a question-and-answer period, and a lecture. The Department of Education makes its assistant secretary for Home and Parent Education available for as many of these workshops as possible. All requests should be sent through the regular channels. It is better to place the call several months in advance.
The Home and Parent Education section is a service department to furnish literature on the home and to assist the pastor in his work of training the parents.