There’s an old children’s worship song by Rob Evans (better known to many as the “Donut Man”) that goes like this:
I like the Bible!
I like the Bible! Cuz I read it, and I do it!
I read it, and I do it!
For many in their early days of Christianity, it can seem like this is the only response to the Bible: simply read it and do it! However, in the real world, it can be much harder to put the things we learn from the Bible (and other sources of spiritual learning) into practice. In today’s blog, we will examine how church members in the East-Central Africa Division (ECD) apply what they learn from the Bible, Sabbath School lessons, and Ellen G. White’s writings to their everyday lives.
The 2017–18 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS), conducted on behalf of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, collected data from the thirteen world divisions of the Adventist Church. Data was collected from the ECD by Professor Elizabeth Role and her team. A total of 7,838 church members were surveyed in the 12 Unions and in seven countries of the Division’s territory, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The majority of the respondents were males (63%), and the age of the respondents ranged from 12 years to 94 years. As many as 14% of survey participants experienced a disability of some sort.
Applying the Bible
When members from the ECD were asked to respond to the statement, “I apply what I learn from the Bible to my daily life,” a vast majority (87%) agreed to one degree or another. Fewer than one in ten (8%) were not sure, and a small percentage disagreed. This finding is encouraging as it shows that ECD members are good at applying what they learn from the Bible to their everyday lives.
Applying Sabbath School Lessons
Members were also asked if they applied what they learned from Sabbath School lessons to their daily life. A majority (85%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they apply Sabbath School lessons to their lives. Ten percent of survey participants were not sure if they applied Sabbath School concepts to daily life, and a small percentage admitted that they did not do so. Again, this points to a strong link between learning and action in the ECD.
Applying Ellen G. White’s Writings
Interestingly, when survey respondents were asked if they applied what they learned from Ellen White’s writings to daily life, only three-fourths (75%) of members agreed that they did so. Fifteen percent were unsure, and 11% shared that they did not do so.
Part of this drop in application may be due to a lack of access to Spirit of Prophecy materials in the ECD; only 30% of respondents shared that they have access to all Ellen G. White’s writings, with an additional 26% having access to only her major works. When we look at the graph “How often do you read Ellen White’s writings” we see that about one in five (18%) had never read her writings in the previous year, and only the same small number of the respondents were reading them daily. These data show that there is a real need in the ECD to provide access to Ellen G. White’s writings to the church members. How can they apply what they learn from her writings if they do not have access to them. This is certainly an area that should be addressed at all levels of church leadership. Encouragement for more frequent use of her writings for personal growth should also take place.
Reading the Bible, Sabbath School lessons, and Ellen G. White’s writings and then applying them to daily life is often much more complicated than simply “reading and doing.” Finding the time for spiritual growth activities such as these is important, but also challenging, in our busy lives of providing for our families.
Let us use these Adventist Church members in the ECD as a strong example of how they applied what they learned to their everyday lives. It should spur others in the World Church to do the same.
Let us also think of better ways to revitalize our own daily spiritual activities and, what is no less important, how we can apply what we learn to our personal lives.
To learn more about the ECD, view their Division website at: https://ecdadventist.org
To access the full ECD 2017–2018 GCMS report, click here.
For 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 01-12-2022