Aspects of Care and Nurture in the Inter-American Division

Blog April 7, 2021

In Matthew 22:37-39 KJV, Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” In this week’s blog, we will examine how the Inter-American Division (IAD) takes this command to heart, and the impact these actions have on the generational church.

Division Information

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. Ramón Díaz-Valladares, PhD and his team from Montemorelos University collected the data from the IAD. The sample was made up of 5,185 participants, members of 23 Unions. Over half (55%) were women, and the remaining 45% were men.

A Multi-Generational Church

The GCMS 2017-18 revealed that many Adventists in the IAD come from a lineage of faith. More than a quarter (27%) of survey participants were second-generation Adventists (i.e., one or both of their parents were Adventists), and another quarter (25%) were third-generation Adventists (i.e., one or both of their grandparents were Adventists). Seven percent of respondents reported that at least one of their great-grandparents were Adventists, while another 8% reported being fifth-generation Adventists or more!

Interestingly enough, more than two out of five (43%) respondents from the 2017-18 GCMS reported that they were first-generation Adventists. From these findings, it appears that while the Adventist Church in the IAD has a strong history and deep, generational roots, it continues to grow and gain new members. These findings point to the necessity of discipleship and support programs in local churches, especially for the people without Adventist roots in their families.

Nurture Within the Church

How did IAD survey respondents perceive the church’s care and nurture of others? Overall, four out of five (81%) of IAD respondents felt that members of their local church needed to increase their nurturing of others to one extent or another. Only 15% believed that their church provided the right amount of nurture.

It was interesting to note that when members were asked to assess their own nurture of others in their local church, an even greater number (84%) of respondents indicated that they believed that they themselves needed to increase their nurture of other people. While it is good that members recognize their own need for change and growth, that realization is helpful only if members act on it. Ideally, this finding should compel church leadership to find ways to increase the care and nurture of their congregants.

Efforts to Reclaim Former Members

When members were asked about their local church’s efforts to reclaim former members, a vast majority (87%) felt that their church needed to increase its efforts. Less than one in ten (9%) felt that the church’s efforts to reclaim former members were at the right level.

When survey respondents evaluated their own involvement in reclaiming former members, a similar number (87%) of respondents shared that they felt there was more they could or should be doing to reclaim those who have left the church.

While the church in the IAD appears to be a mix of new Adventists and those who have a long, generational history in the Church, most church members see a lack of sufficient care and nurture for both those in the church and those who have left the church. This should not only be a call to action for church leadership in the IAD, but also cause church leadership in every Conference, Union, and Division to consider how to bolster the Church today so that it can be stronger tomorrow.
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; … And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1Peter 5:2, 4 KJV).

For more information on the total sample of the 2017-18 GCMS see The Meta-Analysis Report.

For more information on findings from IAD, see the 2017-18 IAD GCMS Report.

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry

Published by ASTR on 04-07-2021