We are used to the fact that almost any data we need can be found online. Regularly we check on products we buy, specialists we see, demographics of cities we live in, schools we attend, etc. It is hard to believe that quite recently research data was not available for wide usage. Time has changed, and now we constantly search for data online and use data for decision making. But does this apply to the Adventist church? Yes! The Annual Statistical Report and Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are both available on the website of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR).
Moreover, several decades ago we did not have global data on the Adventist church members’ beliefs, practices, attitudes, involvement in ministry, etc. Now the picture is different: the 2013 and 2018 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS) went around the globe to provide church leaders with such data. For the benefit of Adventist church leaders, researchers, and lay members we share the Meta-Analysis Report on the 2018 GCMS online.
The 2018 GCMS responses were collected from March 2017 through Summer 2018 in all divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by seven teams of social science researchers under supervision of ASTR. Compared with the 2013 GCMS, it covered a larger geographical scope and more than doubled the number of survey respondents (N=63,756). The survey was commissioned by the Future Plans Working Group for strategic planning and shared with church leadership to aid in their decision making, future planning, and information.
To summarize findings from division reports, a team of Adventist researchers from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, led by Dr. Duane McBride, analyzed the results and prepared an overall Meta-Analysis Report. This report analyzed the research data in view of objectives of the 2015-2020 Reach the World Strategic Plan of the Adventist Church. It gives an overview of the sample demographics and devotional life of church members. The report views responses on church doctrines such as Salvation by Faith, State of the dead, the Church, the Second Coming of Jesus, Creation, the Sanctuary, the Investigative Judgement, the Trinity, Spirit of Prophecy, Marriage, and Healthy lifestyle. Results on church attendance, involvement in church ministries, nurture, retention and reclamation, community services, and questions on young people were also included. The Meta-Analysis Report is supplied with graphs to give the reader a visual illustration of the data in the total sample and division breakdown. The data is very rich and useful for anyone who is doing church-related research or is interested in responses from a church pew.
The report highlights valuable information about Adventist members around the world. Have you ever wondered how many members are first generation Adventists? See the graph below. The research shows that the highest percentage of first generation Adventists was in the Euro-Asia Division’s and the South American Division’s samples, while the fifth generation or greater was in the East-Central Africa Division. The North American Division has the highest percentage of members from third generation or greater.
What kind of churches do Adventists around the world attend? Overall, 70% attend congregations with a perceived attendance of a small group, that is up to 50 people on a typical Sabbath (33%) or between 51-150 attendees (37%). Thus, the data suggests that most of Adventist congregations are not large churches. The setting of Adventist congregations that the survey respondents attend is diverse with 34% located downtown or elsewhere in a large city and 40% in towns, villages or in rural areas.
Demographics of the total sample show that this survey presents views and opinions of both genders, different age groups, married and single, those who grew up in the church and those who joined it later. Men and women were quite equally represented: 49% and 51% respectively. Young people were also able to express their views as more than half of the sample was comprised by youth (22%) and young adults of 26-40 years of age (30%). Married Adventists (59%) provided data on family relations, spiritual practices, and more, from their point of view. Interestingly, 47% of respondents reported that they had at least one child living with parents at home. Respondents joined the Adventist Church at different stages of their lives with about one third (31%) growing up in the church since birth. Overall, 30% were committed to Christ, since they were young children. Thus, responses received present valuable data from diversified Adventist communities and they also show the challenges the church should meet.
If you are interested in more data on the 2018 GCMS about beliefs, attitudes, and spiritual practices of Adventists around the world, check the Meta-Analysis Report on 2018 GCMS or our previous blogs on data from this research, such as on Ellen G. White’s readership; church members’ devotional practices; Christ in heavenly sanctuary; views on the Sabbath; the state of the dead; Sabbath School habits; family relationships and family worships; health message, healthy lifestyle, and church members’ diet; satisfaction with the local church; involvement in church ministries; views on creation; and the Trinity.
You can also see the key findings from the 2018 GCMS presented at the 2018 Annual Council by ASTR Director David Trim.