Facebook. WhatsApp. Instagram. Twitter. Each of these social media platforms has its pros and cons, as well as advocates and critics. However, it remains clear that social media is an important part of today’s culture, and it is here to stay. While this seems to be becoming a more well-accepted reality, Adventist researchers wanted to learn if–and how–social media impacts the spiritual lives of the members within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Thus, as part of the 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS), members worldwide were questioned about various aspects of their social medial usage.
When respondents were asked how often they read or respond to Adventist material on social media, almost half (49%) reported that they never did so while slightly more than half said they accessed Adventist social media although with different frequency. One in five (19%) reported that they do so less than once a month, and 22% do so weekly or about so. Only 10% of respondents indicated that they engage with Adventist social media daily.
Respondents reported even less engagement with other Christian (i.e., Christian, but not Adventist-specific) social media. Over half (56%) of respondents reported that they never read or responded to other Christian social media, while another 18% reported that they did so less than once a month. About one in five respondents engaged with Christian social media weekly or about once a week. Again, only a small group of respondents (8%) reported engaging with other Christian social media daily.
Thus, only about a third of respondents engaged with Adventist social media on a daily or weekly basis, and slightly more than a quarter responded to other Christian social media with this frequency. However, when asked about their use of social media in general, members worldwide reported the highest levels of usage in each category, and half of them said they engaged with some form of social media daily or weekly. The remaining respondents used social media less than once a month (14%) or not at all (36%).
Considering the higher usage of social media in general, the question must be asked: are Adventists interacting less with Adventist and/or Christian social media accounts because they have chosen not to “follow” this type of social media account, or is this because of a lack of online presence by Adventist/Christian accounts or a lack of respondents’ awareness of these kinds of social media?
Interestingly, there was very little correlation between age and social media use; survey respondents between the ages of 21–35 were only slightly more likely to engage with Adventist, Christian, or general social media than any other group.
Limited connectivity could possibly account for lower social media usage in some countries. For example, as of January 2020, only 49% of the population worldwide was reported to access social networking sites.1 In this regard, more Adventists worldwide (64%) access general social media. The same source reported that the United Arab Emirates has the highest rates of social networking usage, with 99% of the population using such sites and applications, followed by Taiwan (88%) and South Korea (87%). It was reported that “the mobile social media penetration in Asian countries was high due to mobile-first connectivity in these markets”.2 However, interestingly, only 70% of the population in the United States access social media.3 The GCMS results for the North American Division are higher, 80% of members access it.
The Bible tells us that “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31, ESV). As social media becomes more commonly used and more available worldwide, how can we, as Adventists, utilize this medium more for the glory of God and for the edification of His church? How can your pastor or church raise awareness of Adventist social media and/or better promote it among church members?
It’s also important to consider the important role that social media and technology at large can play during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic the world is currently facing. While we are practicing social distancing and are avoiding being physically with others, we can use social media to positively engage with others, share encouragement and care, and even stream live feeds from churches. We are blessed to have such technology available during this time!
If you’d like to become more involved with Adventist social media, you may find these lists of social media resources helpful:
- North American Division Social Media Resources (practical ideas, content strategy, etc.)
- North America Division social media accounts handled by denominational entities throughout the division and globally
- Social media resources by General Conference
- Meta-analysis report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR
- Clement, J. (2020). Social media: Active usage penetration in selected countries 2020. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/282846/regular-social-networking-usage-penetration-worldwide-by-country/