Did you know that the General Conference organizes and promotes several global initiatives? These initiatives are designed to encourage and grow the faith of members, as well as reach others with the good news of the hope that can be found in Jesus.
While you may be aware of some of these programs and initiatives, have you ever wondered how they function in your part of the world and how impactful they are around the world? This week, we will examine the impact of some of the General Conference programs on the East-Central Africa Division of the world Church. This Division shows great zeal in promoting and implementing these programs.
Awareness and Participation in Global Programs
The 2017-18 Global Church Member Study (2017-18 GCMS), conducted on behalf of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, collected data from the thirteen world divisions of the Adventist Church. Data was collected from the East-Central Africa Division (ECD) by Professor Elizabeth Role and her team. A total of 7,838 church members were surveyed in the 12 Unions and in seven countries of the Division’s territory, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The majority of respondents were males (63%), and the age of respondents ranged from 12 years to 94 years.
As part of the 2017-18 GCMS, members were asked about their awareness and participation in various programs developed by the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the ECD, members participated most often in Total Member Involvement in sharing their faith and hope in Jesus (78%) and Revival and Reformation which focuses on spiritual growth (73%). The least-participated program in the ECD was the Centers of Influence initiative, with only a quarter (26%) of respondents reporting that they had participated in the work of the Centers of Influence. While members heard most often about the Comprehensive Health Ministries (36%) and Mission to the Cities (36%) programs, only 42% and 43% respectively participated in these programs. The low participation in Centers of Influence can be explained by specific features of the initiative. It targets urban populations and requires people with skills and knowledge of how to organize such Centers to provide different services to people’s needs.
These findings, specifically the strong participation in Total Member Involvement and Revival and Reformation, suggest the robust involvement of lay members in ECD and help to explain rapid church growth in that Division. The other mentioned programs (less favored in this study) are geared more for a more secular environment.
These results distinguish this Division as an active participant in the Adventist Church’s initiatives. The comparison of “I have participated” responses with overall results of the GCMS reported in the Meta-Analysis Report shows that the ECD members are 43% ahead in participation in the Total Member Involvement, about 30% ahead in Revival and Reformation, and 10%-20% ahead in other programs.
Satisfaction with and Commitment to the Church
Bearing in mind that they are so involved in various global initiatives, what about satisfaction with their local congregations and commitment to the Church?
Overall, church members in the ECD are satisfied with their local church. Three-fourths (75%) of members are “very satisfied” with their local church, and another 11% are “satisfied.” Less than one in ten (9%) are dissatisfied to one extent or another with their local church. This finding comes as no surprise because it seems to correspond with the level of participation by members in the Total Member Involvement initiative. This highlights the importance of well-organized local churches with varied opportunities for their members to grow and be involved.
This positive view of the local church likely contributes to members’ predicted lifelong commitment to the Adventist Church. A vast majority (93%) of ECD respondents believed that they would remain in the Adventist Church for the rest of their lives. Only a small percentage (3%) felt that it was unlikely that they would attend the church for life. Again, this finding comes as little surprise as a result of members’ strong involvement in evangelism, spiritual growth, and lay engagement in church affairs.
As you can see, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in East-Central Africa seeks to maximize participation by its church members in programs designed to grow and strengthen the Church; this participation exemplifies their love for and commitment to the Adventist Church. It is encouraging to see such a commitment by the lay members in this Division.
Have you heard about these world Church’s programs? Has your local church introduced and implemented them? Have you participated in any of these initiatives? To find more information on the current General Conference initiatives, click here.
To read the full report from the ECD, click here.
To read the 2017-18 GCMS Meta-Analysis Report click here.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR