Good News for Endangered Adventists

Good News for Endangered Adventists

The Adventist Review recently published  Endangered Adventism, painting a very bleak outlook for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.

According to research by Dr. David Trim and the office of Archives, Statistics & Research (ASTR) at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the median age of an Adventist around the world is 32. In the U.S and Canada, that number is 51.

18.46%. That’s the percentage of Adventist members in North America that are under the age of 40. The percentage under the age of 25—4.55%.

There is no doubt that there is serious competition for the hearts and minds of young people in North America, but are they truly that close to disappearing from our churches?

Exactly where did these numbers come from?

GC Survey

In 2013, the General Conference conducted an online survey of the North American Division. Email invitations were sent to a selection of churches and 300 of them signed up to participate. 12% of the members in these churches actually filled out the survey – 1,495 people. The report indicates that this is a fairly typical response for online surveys. Of these 1,495 people, 4.55% were 25 or younger and 18.46% were 40 or younger.

It’s clear that this survey was carefully prepared by a meticulous team. The question is, are these 1,495 members a representative sample of 1 million+ members in North America? Is this the best data we have?

eAdventist

eAdventist is North America’s membership records and currently contains over 1.15 million members. More than 780,000 of these members have provided their birth dates.

sample_sizes

1,495 vs 780,00

members_by_10s

2016 members by 10-year groups (eAdventist)

Query those 780,000 people like it’s 2013 and a very different picture emerges.

Median age of members = 46
Members 25 and under = 16.8%
Members 40 and under = 40.0%

If you exclude people under 10, the median age of the United States (2010 Census) is 42 and Canada (2011 Census) is about 44. Even more encouraging, the median age of members joining by baptism or profession of faith in the last 8 years is 32.

baptisms_since_2008

Baptisms by age (eAdventist)

Most young adults are making major life changes – launching careers, deciding on relationships or marriage and evaluating their commitment to God and church. Let’s encourage and welcome them whether they attend regularly or occasionally. Thankfully, it appears that the reports of their extinction “have been greatly exaggerated“.

6 thoughts on “Good News for Endangered Adventists

  1. I can’t believe we spend so much time on this kind of thing instead of preaching that prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes and that Jesus’ coming is getting closer and closer everyday. You rarely hear anything about all the worldly events that are proclaiming His soon return, as in “and all the world wondered after the Beast.” We’ve lost our priorities.

    • You’re right, Maida. Our focus needs to be on Jesus and introducing others to Him and I hope you’ve found a church family where it is. When people go missing in your church, do you ever wonder if they’ve moved or if you missed opportunities and they’ve gone to look for Him somewhere else? Particularly our young people?

  2. The major difference between the two sources of information is that the eAdventist database includes a number of members who no longer attend church, while the survey responses are more likely to come from attenders. The different age profiles simply demonstrate that the inactive members include a larger number of younger people. In fact, this is a reality that has been shown to be true in numerous studies. There is nothing surprising in the comparison of these two sources of data.

    • Monte, we’ve been hoping for a chance to talk to you about this! “Members” and “attenders” are definitely different numbers. However, we’ve been comparing the 8+ years of membership records in eAdventist to some of the previous studies and see a slightly different picture than several recent articles based on previous studies. Would you be interested in seeing what we’ve found?

  3. The problem with this analysis is that the 1,495 is a random sample and the 780.000 is not. The 789,000 is an accidental sample and under the rule of statistical science cannot be used to draw any conclusions about the whole Adventist population or membership. When a random sample is over 1,000 is always more accurate than an accidental sample (at least in 19 our of 20 instances) no matter how large the accidental sample is until the accidental sample gets to about 95% or larger of the total universe of data. You need to take a course in statistics.

    • Good point! Statistics was actually part of my training as an engineer. The math on the previous study appears to be sound. However, the sample doesn’t appear to have been as “random” as the researchers would have hoped. eAdventist’s “accidental” sample already contains more than twice as many young members as the previous study predicts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s