The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.1)
Ellen G. White’s writings are our legacy and still essential to the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her writings shed light on the Bible and provide many benefits for growing in our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
As part of the 2018 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS), members around the world were asked how often they read the writings of Ellen G. White (Q26.04). Interestingly, only about one in six respondents shared that they read her writings daily or more than once a day, with just under five indicating that they do so several times a week. Slightly more than a quarter (26.3%) read her writings less than once a month, while 20.7% report that they never read the works of Ellen White.
A similar study, conducted in 2013, revealed, similarly, that one in six respondents read her writings daily or more than once a day, but the additional percentage who read her several times a week was two percentage points higher (21%) than in 2018. A quarter (25%) reported reading Ellen White less than once a month and 19% reported that they never do so.
Ideally, there should have been an increase from 2013 to 2018 in the numbers of church members reading her works; yet this is not the case. In 2013, 37% read Ellen G. White on a daily or weekly basis, but five years later only 36% did so. There is also a slight increase in the categories “Less than once a month” and “Never”.
The 2018 GCMS also asked church members to respond to the statement, “I apply what I learn from Ellen White’s writings to my daily life” (Q29.18). Two thirds (67.6%) of all respondents indicated that they strongly agreed or agreed. However, a fifth (20.7%) shared that they are not sure, and another one in ten (11.7%) disagreed to some extent. Clearly there is work to be done by church administrators, by the Ellen G. White Estate, and by pastors, if the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to continue to benefit from the Spirit of Prophecy.
The writings of Ellen G. White lend powerful insights to the Bible, as well as inspired guidance on how we should live our lives as representatives of Jesus in this world. It is because of this that Adventists need not to abandon these writings, but to embrace them. We must use them as a method to learn more about our Lord and Savior, as well as what it looks like to belong to Him.
Look up, look up, and let your faith continually increase. Let this faith guide you along the narrow path that leads through the gates of the city into the great beyond, the wide, unbounded future of glory that is for the redeemed.(Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, 732)
For more data on both 2013 and 2018 GCMS look at the following presentations by Dr. David Trim from the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research:
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Picture source: https://m.egwwritings.org/
- General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. (2019). The Gift of Prophecy. Retrieved from https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/church/the-gift-of-prophecy/ (For biblical references, see: Num. 12:6; 2 Chron. 20:20; Amos 3:7; Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10; 22:8, 9.