Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Second Advisor

Duane M. Covrig

Third Advisor

Janet Ledesma

Abstract

Introduction. Adventist schools and churches are embedded within a system that provides them with rich opportunities to achieve their missional goals. However, this is possible only through collaboration and the use of available social networks. The purpose of this study was to identify situations where the church and school work together collaboratively and then to describe the collaborative practices between those selected Adventist pastors and teachers. In the context of Adventist elementary schools, the school principal also fulfills a teaching role. Therefore, inthis study, the term "teacher" also refers to the principal. The broad research question was, How do Adventist pastorsand teachers describe their collaborative relationship in their common purpose of ministry? The conceptual themes that guided this study were social capital, collaboration, and the importance of trust in relational theory. Social capital, according to Putnam, refers to connectedness with others. Collaboration is defined by Sharma and Kearins as "sets of conversations." Wagner and Muller describe collaborative relationships as partnerships that demand "face time." Trust, according to Connolly and James, is the key component in any collaborative relationship. Sharma and Kearins concur and refer to trust as the "critical component."

Method. A qualitative multiple-case study design was used to describe the way Adventist pastors and teachers worked together. The local conference administrative team identified pastor-teacher teams that were in a positive collaborative relationship. The selection was then validated by the conference executive committee. Interviews were conducted with the teams and documents were reviewed to provide a thick description of the ways that collaboration unfolded in these settings.

Findings. Adventist pastors and teachersdescribed four broad themes: (a) a sense of togetherness, (b) the ingredients necessary for a collaborative environment to flourish, (c) connections that bridged the church family to the school family, and (d) the benefits of collaborative practices as well as the results of a failure to collaborate. Adventist pastors and teachers exhibited a sense of togetherness by viewing their ministry to be one in purpose. Each is an equal partner striving to reach the missional goal—the salvation of young people. The entire church and school community was centered on positive relationships, and anyone in this community has the potential to initiate and make a difference in regard to this relational building process. The foundation upon which collaborative practices were built included an intense focus being placed on young people, with their needs taking a high priority. In addition, it was important that both had a clear understanding of the roles and boundaries, be willing to communicate the successes as well as the challenges, and exhibit a flexible attitude. Trust was described by the pastors and teachers to be the foundational anchor of positive relational building. Connections were made by the pastor and teacher, each intentionally seeking ways to connect the two institutions, the church and the school. Each was an active and visible participant in the life of both the church and the school. Also, the church and the school were viewed as one unified campus and both were utilized as ministry needs dictated. Pastors and teachers said the benefits of working in a collaborative relationship with each other include an increased probability that young people will make a decision for Jesus Christ, setting of a positive role model, and improved health of those who practice it. Many pastors and teachers were concerned that a failure to collaborate may lead to the demise of the church and the school; however, some feel that the ultimate price to be paid may be that some may not be in heaven as a result of a failure to work together in positive ways to achieve missional objectives.

Conclusions. Recommendations for both pastor and teacher include closely aligning ministry goals, utilizing the strengths of your ministry partner, seeking ways to intentionally connect the two entities (church and school), discussing any differences in private, and praying for your ministry partner. In setting out to describe the collaborative practices of Adventist pastors and teachers, I have listened to their voices tell a story of collaboration at its best. It is a story of the possibilities when one pastor and one teacher join hands in their common missional goal of the salvation of young people. Adventist education and evangelism are inseparable. If we are to fulfill our common mission, Adventist pastors and teachers must link arms in collaborative practices towards this goal attainment. This study celebrates the accomplishments of two. In essence, this is a story about "us."

Subject Area

Seventh-day Adventist elementary schools--East (U.S.), Teachers and clergy, Seventh-day Adventists--Education--East (U.S.)

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