In the letter to the Hebrews, the author gave the Early Church instructions on ways to create a healthy, engaged body. He wrote:
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24–25 (KJV)
With these instructions in mind, this week’s blog will examine the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division (IAD) and the involvement and participation of the members in church services and Sabbath School, church-sponsored events, and personal spiritual growth activities. We hope you will be challenged and encouraged by the way this Division emulates these instructions found in the letter to Hebrews!
The 2017-2018 Global Church Member Survey (2017-18 GCMS) was conducted on behalf of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, which collected data from Divisions of the Adventist Church around the world. Dr. Ramón Díaz-Valladares and his team from Montemorelos University collected and analyzed the data from the IAD. The sample was made up of 5,185 participants and included members from 23 Unions. Over half (55%) were women, and the remaining 45% were men.
Church and Sabbath School Attendance
The Adventist Church in the IAD is a committed and engaged body. The 2017-18 GCMS discovered that nearly four out of five survey participants reported that they attended church every week (34%) or more than once a week (45%). Only a small percentage of respondents (3%) admitted that they never attended church services.
Similarly, when asked how often they attended Sabbath School, 80% of survey respondents shared that they attended once a week (64%) or more often (16%). Clearly, this group of believers does not “neglect to meet together!” It is truly inspiring to see how devoted members in the IAD are to attending church and Sabbath School on a regular basis. It is also very significant that about half of members (45%) said that they attended the church services more than once a week. This is an additional sign of members actively involved in church life.
Engagement in Spiritually Growing Activities
Activities that help members grow closer to Jesus were also important to members in the IAD. Again, four out of five respondents (80%) reported that they engaged in personal devotions about once a week (9%) a few times a week (22%) or daily (49%). A vast majority (90%) of respondents reported that they read the Bible weekly. A little more than a quarter reported doing so a few times per week (28%), but half reported doing so daily. The majority of respondents reported that they studied the Sabbath School lesson weekly. A third reported doing so a few times a week (37%), and almost half reported doing so daily (47%). It should be noted that some of these activities were carried out alone, while others were conducted with family members (i.e., family worship).
As you can see, activities that allow members to experience spiritual growth and come to know our Heavenly Father on a deeper level are highly valued in the IAD. However, something can be done to facilitate a better rate of daily devotions and Bible reading and promote the importance of personal devotions and Sabbath School studies, especially for those 9%–11% who never did them in the past year.
Activities Planned by Church
Much of this involvement in church life and spiritual growth activities is likely a result of a vibrant church entity that values positive religious and social experiences for its congregants. Thus, it will likely come as little surprise that when survey 2017-18 GCMS participants were asked if their church planned activities for the whole family, over two-thirds (71%) of respondents agreed that their church did so. This is especially important as involvement with family members in church activities is a very good way for young people and young families with children to create positive associations and experiences with the Adventist Church. A meta-analysis of the GCMS data showed that church activities planned for all family members correlate with the satisfaction with the local church.
As you can see, the 2017-2018 GCMS showed that about 80% of church members attended church services and Sabbath School every week or more often. An additional 8%–10% attended them almost every week. Moreover, between 71% and 78% had personal devotions, read the Bible and Sabbath School lessons more than once a week, although only 47%–50% did so daily. A strong majority also said that their local churches planned activities for all family members. These numbers paint the picture of an active, involved church in the IAD. These believers were not neglecting to meet together, but in fact, appeared to be quite committed to doing so. In addition, they were involved in personal spiritual growth activities. By doing so,
they no doubt encouraged each other through good and bad times, all with a focus on the day when Christ will return.
To learn more about the Inter-American Division, click here: https://www.interamerica.org
For more research findings from the 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey regarding the IAD, see the GCMS IAD Report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.
Published by ASTR on 8-4-2021.
 Duane C. McBride, Karl G. D. Bailey, Shannon M. Trecartin, Alina M. Baltazar, Petr Činčala, and Rene D. Drumm. 2017-2018 Global Church Member Survey. Meta-Analysis Final Report. October 2, 2018, 88. https://documents.adventistarchives.info/Resources/Global%20Church%20 Membership%20Survey%20MetaAnalysis%20Report/GCMSMetaAnalysis%20Report_2019-08-19.pdf