My Congregation Needs to Improve Outreach Efforts

Blog August 17, 2016

North American Division’s Views of Seventh-day Adventist Outreach

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

– Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV)

Have you ever been a part of church outreach? Perhaps you visited the elderly to sing Christmas carols during the holiday season, served at a soup kitchen for the homeless, helped to clean up an inner-city community, or went on a short-term mission trip. However, have you ever been involved in a longer-term outreach commitment? 

Volunteering for one afternoon, one weekend, or even one week a year may allow us to cross off “do something to help someone” from our to-do list. Nevertheless, once we leave these “outreach opportunities,” the needs of those we have served continue. Those who are hurting continue to be in pain, the lonely continue to crave companionship and care, the hungry still require food.

Recently (2013), a global study was conducted of the nine divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The research for the North American Division was conducted under the direction of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research who provided the basic analysis plan and worked closely with the John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry at the HMS Divinity School at La Sierra University, Riverside, California. This study was designed to assess the views of church members regarding different aspects of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and church life.

Church members in the North American Division were asked about their congregation’s involvement in outreach. The results demonstrate that church members in the NAD crave new opportunities for outreach and increasing care and nurturing! 

Nearly 8 in 10 of these respondents (80%) stated that their church needed to improve in terms of outreach efforts. Nearly one-third (29%) indicated that they felt the church needed to improve or increase their outreach efforts to a great extent

Similarly, over three-fourths (77%) of respondents reported that they feel their congregation should increase or improve their care and nurture of those in need to some extent. Almost no one (less than 1%) indicated that they think their church is overly involved in care and nurture of those in need.

The bigger and more telling question is: if church members see the need for outreach and care to increase, are they willing to commit to the change? 

When asked to what extent they would be willing to get more involved in outreach, a huge majority (93%) replied that they were willing to increase their involvement! Of those willing to increase their involvement:

  • 40% of respondents indicated they would be willing to increase involvement to some extent
  • 35% of respondents indicated they would be willing to increase involvement to a moderate extent
  • 19% of respondents indicated they would be willing to increase involvement to a great extent

When you consider your own congregation, how would you rank their outreach commitment?  More personally, are you willing to increase your own commitment to outreach?  “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

For more information, check out the Church Member Research Report

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.