By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35 (ESV)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
Throughout the Bible—especially in the New Testament—we see command after command to love and care for others. Indeed, love and care should be at the center of church life. If we follow what the Bible tells us, we should see members going out of their way to love and care for others within the body.
This begs the question: Do members of the Adventist Сhurch feel loved and cared about within their church?
The Big Picture
The 2017–2018 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS) examined church members’ experiences within their local church. One area assessed was members’ response to the statement, “When I am at church, I feel loved and cared about.” Globally, nearly half (49%) of the respondents shared that for them, this statement was very true. Another 13% said that this was somewhat true/very true. It is encouraging that a majority of the church members felt that they were loved and cared for by others in their church.
However, the news is not all good. Nearly a third (30%) of the respondents admitted that the statement, “When I am at church, I feel loved and cared about,” is only somewhat true for them, and 8% shared that this statement is not true to any extent. It is definitely concerning that nearly two out of every five members reported that they do not experience an abundance of love and care within their church.
A Closer Look
The responses to the statement, “When I am at church, I feel loved and cared about,” were cross-tabulated by Division. About 70% of the respondents in the Euro-Asia Division, Trans-European Division, and South Pacific Division were most likely to share that this statement was very true or somewhat true/very true for them, indicating that they felt very loved and cared for. However, only about half of the members in the Inter-American Division (IAD) and Southern Asia Division (SUD) agreed that this statement was true for them.
In addition, members in the IAD were most likely (39%) to agree somewhat with the statement, “When I am at church, I feel loved and cared about,” followed by the Northern Asia Pacific Division (38%).
Interestingly, members in the SUD were least likely (19%) to agree that they felt loved and cared for by others at their church. The SUD was followed by the North American Division, where (16%) shared that this statement was not true at all or not true at all/somewhat true. The highest percentage in the Not true at all category (9%) was in the IAD.
Thus, although overall, a majority of church members felt that they were loved and cared for by others in their church, the situation varies from place to place. The minority who felt that they were loved or cared for only somewhat or even less should not be ignored. As a church, we need to be more sensitive to the needs of our members. How can we grow in our love and care for them? If current members do not feel loved and cared for, how can we expect to attract new faces into the church? The necessary changes must begin in the hearts and minds of each individual Christian. Will you allow God to grow you in these areas? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to become a Church that was known globally for our love and care?
For more information on the total sample please visit the Meta-Analysis report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.
Published by ASTR on 05-17-2023