. . . If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. – Philippians 2:1–2 (ESV)
In a recent blog, we saw that members in the Southern Asia Division (SUD) demonstrate a strong commitment to engaging in church community life, including involvement in church ministries, prayer meeting attendance, and sharing meals with other church members. In today’s blog, we will look at the prevalence of home visits from pastors, elders, and church members in this same Division.
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 SUD. This Division includes East-Central India, Northeast India, Northern India, South-Central India, Southeast India, Southwest India, and Western India Union Sections; the Himalayan Section; the Andaman and Nicobar Island Region; and the East Himalayan Field. Data in this Division were collected by researchers Petr Činčala, Shannon Trecartin, and Vara Deepati. A total of 2,981 church members were surveyed in all the SUD Unions. The average age of the SUD survey participants was 38.7 years. All levels of education from primary/elementary to professional/graduate school were represented. One in ten (10%) respondents reported having some form of disability or multiple disabilities.
Visits from the Pastor
Members in the SUD were asked how often (in the last 12 months) their pastor had come to visit them. Almost one in five (17%) shared that their pastor visited them more than once a week, while another 19% reported that their pastor visited them on a weekly basis. Yet another third (34%) of the respondents shared that their pastor visited them almost every week. Only 6% reported that their pastor had never visited them in the last year, with an additional 9% admitting that he had visited their home only once or twice. These numbers are greatly encouraging, especially when compared with the global survey sample, where 38% said they were never visited by a pastor in the previous year.
Visits from an Elder
When members were asked how often (in the last year) they had been visited by a church elder, over half (52%) reported that an elder had visited them every week or more often. Another 11% reported that an elder visited them almost every week. Similar to the percentages for pastors, 7% shared that they had never been visited by an elder, a great contrast with 41% of the total sample of respondents, and 10% reported that they had received such a visit only once or twice. Again, these numbers are encouraging and demonstrate a strong sense of community and care within the SUD Adventist Church.
Visits from Another Member
Finally, SUD survey respondents were asked how often (in the last 12 months) they had received a visit from another church member. Just under half (45%) of the participants reported that they had received a visit from another church member every week or more often in the last year. Another quarter (25%) received such as visit almost every week. Only 5% of members reported that they had not received any such visit from a church member in the last year. This number is four times greater in the overall sample.
Interestingly, the numbers for members receiving visits from other members were very similar to the numbers for members sharing meals together. It is likely that many of the church member visits included eating together in the same fashion as did the early church (Acts 2:46). It is amazing that half of them had fellowship over the meal that frequently—every week or more often. Only about a quarter in the total sample had such practices. It is an indication of close relationships and friendship among Adventist church members in the SUD.
Thus, the research shows that there is a net of strong member care in the SUD. A majority (70%) of church members were visited by their pastor or church members almost every week or more often in the previous year, and about two-thirds (63%) were visited by an elder or ate with a church member other than their family with the same frequency. These findings continue to point to the strong community ties found in the SUD. In this Division, church leadership and members alike value their time together and are investing in relationships. The world Church could learn much from this community-invested Division.
To learn more about the SUD, visit their Division website: http://www.sudadventist.org
To access the full SUD 2017–18 GCMS report, click here.
For more 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 11-24-2021