Adventist Children: Worldwide Data on Transmission of Faith

Blog June 1, 2023

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. – Psalm 78:4 (ESV)

The transmission of faith from one generation to the next is one of the most important jobs a parent can have. The Bible tells us this again and again, and Ellen White emphasized it in many of her writings:

Parents should seek to comprehend the fact that they are to train their children for the courts of God. When they are entrusted with children, it is the same as though Christ placed them in their arms and said, “Train these children for Me, that they may shine in the courts of God.” One of the first sounds that should attract their attention is the name of Jesus, and in their earliest years they should be led to the footstool of prayer. Their minds should be filled with stories of the life of the Lord, and their imaginations encouraged in picturing the glories of the world to come. [1]

When it comes to the transmission of faith, how are members of the Adventist Church doing? Are Adventist parents raising Adventist children?

Number of Children

One of the first questions on the 2017–2018 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS) asked members if they had any children; overall, 47% reported that they had at least one child or teenager living with them at home, 18% said that they had children, but none who was a child or teenager living with them, and 35% reported they did not have any children.

For those who reported having children, 20% reported that they had one child, 53% reported that they had two or three children, and 27% reported that they had four or more children.

Adventist Children

The GCMS respondents were then asked if all of their children were being raised as Adventists (for those under 18) or had remained in the Adventist Church as adults. Globally, two thirds (65%) of respondents reported that yes, all of their living children were Adventists.

However, over one third (35%) of respondents reported that all of their children were either not being raised as Adventists or had not remained in the Adventist Church as adults. This is a concerning number.

Of those who reported having any Adventist children, 29% reported that one of their children was Adventist, half (52%) reported that two or three children were Adventist, and 19% reported that four or more of their children were Adventist.

What Does This Mean?

Young people are leaving Christian churches at an alarming rate. According to a 2019 report by Barna, the percentage of young-adult dropouts between 2011 and 2019 increased from 59% to 64%. These numbers do not consider the additional attrition caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which, as of 2020, was expected to take a toll on young people’s commitment to churchgoing and on Christianity, as a whole.[3] The Adventist Church is no exception.

What can we do to transmit a strong, deep-seated faith in Adventist children and young people? How can we lead them to fall in love with Jesus in a way that they never want to let Him go? How can those without children (or whose children have grown up) support and come alongside parents who are in the trenches of childrearing, helping them to teach their children about the rich, life-changing love of Jesus?

If you are interested in more information on young people, their involvement in church life and ministry, and their commitment to the Adventist Church, check ASTR staff’s presentations on Adventist young people and their retention here.

You may also want to look at our previous blogs on young people to find more information on:

  • Engagement of young people in church life. What did former students say about their participation in service to the church or community during their college years? Read more.
  • What did Pathfinders from the 2014 Camporee share about their use of social media? Does it help them better know Jesus? Can it be used for sharing the gospel? How can the church involve them in such activities? Read more.
  • The blog about the 2019 Camporee Survey shed some light on Pathfinders’ commitment to the Adventist Church, factors that play a role in their commitment, and how the church can contribute to that. Read more.
  • What does the 2017-18 global research say regarding Adventist adolescents’ and young adults’ involvement in local church life and ministry? Read more.
  • Can a local church prevent the loss of young people and ensure they feel connected to the church? What attracts young people to their church the most? Read more.

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.

Published by ASTR on 06/01/2023

[1] The Review and Herald, February 19, 1895

[2] Barna. (2019, September 4). Church dropouts have risen to 64%—But what about those who stay?

[3] Ham, K. (2020, October 28). Barna: The pandemic will accelerate young people leaving the church. Answers in Genesis.