And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24–25
Community is an integral part of the Christian life. When we live together in community, we can challenge, encourage, and compel each other—just as “iron sharpens iron” (Prov. 27:17a, NIV). When we consider how various parts of the world apply living in community to church life, the Southern Asia Division (SUD) sets a strong example of what this looks like within the Adventist Church.
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 Southern Asia Division (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, and one in ten (10%) respondents reported having some form of or multiple disabilities, and 1% stated they were Deaf.
Involvement in Ministry
The SUD survey respondents were asked how often they had helped with ministry on Sabbath in the past year. Over half (57%) of the respondents shared that they had done so every week or more often. Fourteen percent of the respondents helped almost every week, and 12% did so more than once a month.
While the Sabbath presents a natural opportunity for service and ministry, the SUD survey respondents were also asked how often they had helped with ministry during the week in the past year. It is notable that the number of members who helped with ministry during the week is similar to those who helped on Sabbath. Over half (54%) of the respondents shared that they had helped every week or more often. Another 10% did so almost every week, while 13% did so once a month.
Overall, members in the SUD showed a strong commitment to helping with ministry both on Sabbath and during the week.
Prayer Meeting Attendance
The SUD survey respondents also showed a strong commitment to attending midweek prayer meetings. A majority (80%) of the respondents reported that in the past year, they had attended prayer meetings almost every week or more often, with about half (48%) attending weekly.
Eating with Church Members
The early church was known for sharing meals together as part of church community life. Members in the SUD were asked how often they ate with church members (outside of their family) in the past year. Half of the members (51%) ate with another church member every week or more often, with 19% sharing a meal with another church member more than once a week. An additional 12% shared that they ate together with other church members almost every week. However, it is interesting to note that 5% of the respondents had never eaten with another church member during the last 12 months.
Compared with the total sample, the SUD weekly results were higher on all activities discussed above. In the SUD, about 26% more church members helped with a church ministry during the week than in the total sample, 22% more helped on Sabbath, 10% more attended prayer meetings during the week, and 27% more had a meal together with a church member every week or more often. The numbers of those who were never involved in these activities or participated in them only once or twice during the past year were also considerably lower. The church in the SUD truly shows a strong commitment to engaging in church community life, setting an example for church members worldwide.
To learn more about the SUD, click here: https://www.sudadventist.org
For more research findings regarding the SUD, please see the SUD 2017-18 GCMS Report.
If you are interested in research findings from the total sample, please see the Meta-Analysis Report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR on 9-29-2021