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Pastor and Teacher Collaboration
By Pamela Consuegra, PhD

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Pamela ConsuegraA pastor’s role is important when it comes to connecting the church family to the school family. The pastor is seen by the congregation as being the spiritual leader in the church, therefore, it becomes very important for him/her to play a key role in bridging the two entities. There is a need for the pastor to be an active participant in the process of connecting the church to the school.  Pastors must have a relationship with the kids first before they can have a spiritual impact on them. This relationship is developed through a pastor’s active involvement at the school.
Students are the benefactors from the positive messages that collaboration between pastor and teacher send to them personally.  It lets them know that everyone in their lives is pulling together in the same direction for them. When students see someone who loves them at home, someone who loves them at school, and someone who loves them at church, this creates a strong safety net for them.  Collaboration creates the sense for students that they are cared for by a team of committed people. It makes kids secure to know so many people are pulling for them. So many of the students enrolled in our schools are from broken homes and never have the opportunity to interact with positive role models that represent a “family.” Thus, having the pastor involved and visible around the school provides this important element and allows the students to experience a true “family” atmosphere.
When questioned, Adventist pastors and teachers view their ministry to be one in purpose (Himmelman, 1992; Wagner & Muller, 2011a). Each is an equal partner striving to reach the missional goal—the salvation of young people (Baker, 1997; Patterson, 2007; Sahlin, 1985). Introducing young people to Jesus is a mission that the pastor and teacher identify as being shared. Wagner and Muller (2011b) discussed the importance of possessing a common mission by explaining that it was at the core of the development of collaborative partnerships. Others, such as Gajda and Koliba (2007), have written about the importance of having a shared purpose. Close examination of the goals of the Adventist church and the Adventist school reveals that they are both redemptive in nature (Rasmussen, 1950; Sahlin, 1985b; White, 1952). The point is that when pastors and teachers maximize the use of collaborative practices, they are in essence creating a thread that ties the common goals of the pastoral ministry and the educational ministry together.
Adventist pastors and teachers who are in a positive collaborative relationship report that one of the greatest benefits of working as a team includes an increased probability that young people will make a decision for Jesus Christ. This means that the work of true education becomes a practical and moral activity of living out collaborative practices in a way that students will benefit.
Recommendations for Pastors
  1. Closely align the goals of the church and the school so that a common missional goal is clear.
  2. Identify your strengths and your weaknesses. Discuss ways with the school staff that you may maximize the use of your strengths in order to attain your ministry goals.
  3. Make the school a priority in your calendar.
  4. Be visible and active on the school campus on a regular basis.
  5. Schedule special Sabbaths in the church calendar to focus on Adventist education.
  6. Schedule regular times with your teaching ministry team to discuss goals and dreams.
  7. Discuss any differences with the teacher and deal with conflicts in private according to scriptural principles.
  8. Be a cheerleader for the school, staff, and students from the pulpit.
  9. Be intentional about creating opportunities to get to know your educational partner in ministry outside the school environment.
  10. Pray daily for your teacher as a partner in ministry.
  11. Don’t expect perfection in your educational partner in ministry.
  12. Make full use of that “relational oil” of collaboration as you build relationships with those you serve in the church and school family. In so doing, your ministry will be blessed.
Pamela Consuegra, PhD, is the Associate Director of Family Ministries for the North American Division
Baker, G. M. (1997). Attitudes and support of Adventist ministers towards denominational K-12 schools. Riverside, CA: La Sierra University.

Gajda, R., & Koliba, C. (2007). Evaluating the imperative of intraorganizational collaboration: A school improvement perspective. American Journal of Evaluation, 28(1), 26-44.

Himmelman, A. T. (1992). On the theory and practice of transformational collaboration: From social service to social justice. In C. Huxham (Ed.), Creating collaborative advantage (pp. 19-43). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Patterson, S. (2007). Organizational expectations and role clarification of pastors and educators serving K-10 schools operated by the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI.
Rasmussen, L. R. (1950, January). Minister in the making: Evangelism and education. Ministry, 15-16.
Sahlin, M. (1985, August). Preacher-teacher collaboration. Ministry, 12-14, 17.
Wagner, R., & Muller, G. (2011a). New Gallup book explores collaboration. New York, NY: Gallup Press.
Wagner, R., & Muller, G. (2011b). The power of two: You are built for collaborating, but chances are, you aren’t forming enough good partnerships in your workplace. New York, NY: Gallup Press.
White, E. G. (1952). Education. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press.