Those in the church who have sufficient talent to engage in any of the various vocations of life, such as teaching, building, manufacturing, and farming, generally should be prepared to labor for the upbuilding of the church by serving on committees or as teachers in Sabbath schools, engaging in missionary labor, or filling the different offices connected with the church. – Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, February 15, 1887
It is no secret that church officers and lay leaders form the backbone of any local church. Ordained leaders (such as elders and deacons), administrative officers (such as the church clerk, treasurer, or church board member), and general church officers (such as children’s leader, Family Ministries Coordinator, Pathfinder Director, or Health Ministries Leader—to name a few) play a central role in maintaining local church life.
Global Data on Holding a Church Office
The 2017–18 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS) examined many aspects of members’ experiences in the Adventist Church in addition to their beliefs in Adventist doctrines and teachings. One specific area researched was members’ involvement in their local church by holding a church office. Nearly two out of three (62%) survey respondents reported that they held a church office currently at their local church. The remaining 38% shared that they did not hold a church office.
When cross-tabulated by Division, the data showed that nearly four out of five (80%) respondents from the Euro-Asia Division (ESD) reported that they held a church office; this number was far higher than any other Division and indicates a high level of commitment to serving the local church. Following the ESD was the Southern Asia Division (SUD; 73%), East-Central Africa Division (ECD), Trans-European Division (TED), and West-Central Africa Division (WAD; 71% each). Respondents from the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) reported the lowest levels of respondents holding a church office (47%), although it was also close to half.
When reviewing data like this, it is important to remember that the 2017–18 GCMS was likely filled out by those who attend church regularly and who are more involved in church life (i.e., they were presented with more opportunities to participate in the survey). Consequently, this sample may contain a higher-than-average percentage of those who are involved in church life. Still, it is interesting—and hopefully encouraging—to take a look at a snapshot of church life around the world.
Importance of Lay Leaders
This valuable data serves as a reminder that each one of us is asked to play an active role in our local church. Being part of a church body is not intended to be a consumable experience; we should not attend simply to be fed and leave. Instead, a church should be a place where we can both give and receive, serve and be served. There are many different ways of being involved in church life besides holding a church office. If everybody were a church leader, who would they be leading? Behind every great church leader stands a team that helps lead. While this data set does not tell us how involved church members are, it helps us understand that lay church leaders are needed, and it shows a snapshot of lay involvement and leadership worldwide. Perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, “How can I better be involved in serving my local church?”
For more information about church leaders and church member involvement in church life please read these previously published blogs:
- Church Locations of the Global Survey Participants: What do These Data Mean? Part 1
- Church Locations of the Global Survey Participants: What do These Data Mean? Part 2
- Helping Each Other to Grow Spiritually
- Women’s Involvement in the Adventist Church
- Involvement of People with Disabilities in the Church (Part 1)
- Leadership Qualifications and Teamwork in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division
- Youth Involvement in Mission and Youth Leadership Programming in the WAD
- Youth Involvement in Decision-Making and Youth Leadership Programming in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division
- Global Views on Characteristics of Pastors and Local Church Leadership
- Global Research on Adventist Young People: Involvement in Church Life and Ministries
- Church Members’ Involvement in Ministry and Community
For more research findings on the total sample, please see the Meta-Analysis Report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.
Published by ASTR on 03/01/2023