Education helps to create long-term sustainability in the life of the Church.
Education has always been a priority in the Church of the Nazarene. Just as Jesus’ ministry included preaching, teaching, and healing, so the Church of the Nazarene has embraced compassion, evangelism, and education as pillars of our work and ministry. It is education which helps to create long-term sustainability in the life of the Church. Today, we are a Church of educational institutions that circle the globe.
From the very beginning, the Church of the Nazarene has invested in education. Believing that the fledgling denomination needed to develop future leaders, Phineas F. Bresee, who at one time served on the board of the University of Southern California, fought hard and long for higher education. He helped to found what eventually became Pasadena College. H. Orton Wiley was another of the early leaders who held together both the academy and the work of the Church, believing that you could not have one without the other. The overall goal was to train Christian workers and to educate a Christian laity. Committed laypersons who believed that education was vital to the future of the church founded most of our schools.
We continue to invest in education around the globe because now more than ever there is a need for Christian education.
In our educational institutions, individuals are shaped into Christlike disciples. Our schools are places of discipleship formation, and this goes far beyond the gathering of information for intellectual achievement. While our schools provide opportunities for the finest education, they also reach further and touch the very heart and soul of those who attend. In an age where secularism is the religion of the day, our colleges, universities, and seminaries provide space for those who wish to wrestle with the big questions of life. It is here that the Church and the world meet in a way that connects students with key questions of faith. Students are provided with opportunities to embrace a worldview in which God is present.
Why do we invest so heavily in our schools? Because this opportunity to wrestle with the big questions is vital to the health of our young people. David Brooks, in his recent book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, laments the fact that most college students, when they graduate, feel as if they are graduating into a kind of “limbo.” Brooks quotes Kierkegaard, whose thoughts summarize the questions that today’s graduates are asking: “What I really need to be clear about is what am I to do, not about what I must know . . . . It is a question of finding a truth that is truth for me, of finding the idea for which I am willing to live and die . . . . It is for this my soul thirsts, as the deserts of Africa thirst for water.” Brooks then goes on to ask, “How is it that on this biggest question of all, we have nothing to say?”1
The good news is that while the secular world may have nothing to say, Christian colleges and universities can point students to the well of living water where the thirsting of the soul is quenched.
I am not sure that Dr. Bresee ever imagined the current reach of Nazarene educational institutions around the globe. However, he infused into the DNA of the Church of the Nazarene a profound appreciation for education. What better place to make Christlike disciples in the nations than in our schools around the world? We continue to partner with and support our schools so that the vision remains a reality: that the Church may persevere in training Christian workers and educating a Christian laity, building sustainability and Christian influence in our increasingly secular world.
Carla Sunberg is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
 David Brooks, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life (New York: Random House, 2019), 15-16, Kindle Edition.
Holiness Today, Jul/Aug 2019