The Value of Adult Education

John Morris_Adult Ed

Living in an ever-changing world, adult education has never been more important. Not only do I teach in the adult program at Point University, but I am also a product of the adult education process. I personally understand how the desire for further education can pull someone back into the classroom after years of working in a corporate environment, and I know how that can change your life, open up new opportunities and equip you to answer God’s calling in your life.

My story

I came to experience adult education after a long career at Hewlett-Packard (HP) in sales and sales management. In my case, God called me away from HP and into seminary where I had to adapt to the academic classroom after an absence of 23 years, and had to learn how to juggle a more than full-time day job along with the demands of school three nights a week. I wasn’t entirely sure what I had gotten myself into, but it was clear that God was preparing me for something.

Me speaking at a graduation for Georgia prisoners.

I eventually completed two masters’ degrees and a PhD. degree before going to work in administration and teaching. I have taught in both a standard college environment as well as an adult masters’ program. My last assignment in seminary was creating and running a four-year, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) accredited Christian Ministry bachelor degree program in one of Georgia’s prisons. The intent was to equip spiritually-converted inmates to become pastors inside prison and thereby change the entire prison environment.

While my time working in prison was in many ways very uncomfortable, the four years I spent there were a spiritual highlight of my life. I was able to use my God-given ability to teach adults to invest into a group of men who were on fire for Christ and were willing to work very hard to be equipped to answer God’s calling. Once they graduated, many of the students were sent out into other prisons in the Georgia system to work as a chaplain’s aid in order to develop their individual ministries. The college program continued after I left and is now almost ready to graduate a second set of ministers who will be dedicated to taking God to more of the prisons in Georgia.

Adult education opens doors

I share all of this to say that I know firsthand the value, importance and impact of adult higher education. God called me, and an adult education program helped equip me for a ministry I never would have conceived of during my days at HP. If it weren’t for God’s calling and for a program that was created specifically for adults returning to the classroom, the prison college program may never have happened and many ministers would not have been equipped. I don’t take sole credit or responsibility for the program, but I think God picked the right person, time and situation to accomplish His purpose.

In another way, I can see the importance of adult education every time I go into the classroom. Some students are like I was, called by God to equip themselves for further ministry. Some are responding to changes in their lives or jobs and are preparing themselves for a new or advanced career. Some are coming back to complete their education after an interruption when “life happened.” Some are even coming back because their children are in college and they feel like they want to give a good example of the value of an education to their children.

Perhaps there are as many reasons people come back to school for education as there are people coming back. The importance of adult education is not why people come to it, but rather the opportunities adult education gives to the people who come.

Adult education at Point University (which we call Access) is an equipper, a completer and a creator of new opportunities. It is an opportunity for people to become what God wants them to be either in the ministry or the corporate world. If God can use adult education to equip a high-tech salesman to become a professor in a Bible college, He can take someone from any background and give them the tools to have a Christian impact on their culture. If we can get enough Christians who are equipped to influence our culture, we have a chance to turn the world around.

One final thought: Christ took 12 adults, gave them three years of adult education and turned them loose on the world. From what I can tell, that worked out fairly well. (Of course, eventually Christ did have to call Paul the professor to help out.)

john_morrisJohn Morris, Ph.D.
Director of Distance Education