Women’s Involvement in the Adventist Church

International Women’s Day was observed in many countries on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. On this day, people express their appreciation of what women do for us and celebrate the successes and achievements of women worldwide.  According to the 2021 Annual Statistical Report (ASR), the percentage of women inside the Adventist Church is higher than that of men. Women are an integral, important part of the Body of Christ and a central part of churches’ function. The Bible tell us in Proverbs 31:30b NKJV:"…a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." How is the gender distribution in your local church? How do the women in your congregation experience spirituality? How do they live out their faith? Are they actively involved in your local church ministries? Today, we will examine research findings on the involvement of women in the Adventist Church.

Blog March 9, 2022

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A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Prov. 31:30, ESV)

This year, International Women’s Day will be celebrated in many countries on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. If you have not heard about this special day, the official International Women’s Day website provides more information.

International Women’s Day . . . is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group, or organization specific. [1]

According to the 2021 Annual Statistical Report (ASR), the percentage of women inside the Adventist Church is higher than the percentage of men. (See our next blog on gender distribution in the membership of the Adventist Church). Women are an integral, important part of the Body of Christ and a central part of churches’ function.

While the role of women has been challenged and debated over centuries, Seventh-day Adventists believe

…that all people, male and female, are created equal, in the image of a loving God. We believe that both men and women are called to fill a significant role in accomplishing the primary mission of the Adventist Church: working together for the benefit of humanity. Yet we are painfully aware that throughout the world, in developing and developed nations, adverse societal conditions often inhibit women from fulfilling their God-given potential…

…Women are entitled to the God-given privileges and opportunities intended for every human being–the right to literacy, to education, to adequate health care, to decision making, and to freedom from mental, physical, or sexual abuse. [2]

It is well documented by research that major issues like greater risk for health problems due to stress, poverty, heavy workloads, and family violence often keep women from making valuable contributions to society.

With this in mind, how do women experience spirituality? How do they live out their faith in church life?

Personal Prayer

The 2017–2018 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS) asked church members how often they had prayed during the past year. When the answers were cross-tabulated by gender, it was determined that more than two-thirds (68%) of Seventh-day Adventist women had prayed daily or more often during the past year. Another 16% reported that they had prayed more than once a week, and 7% reported praying about once a week. Interestingly, a very small percentage (4%) reported that they had never prayed during the past year. These figures are similar to the percentage in the total sample although the number of daily praying women is a bit higher. When compared with the male subsample, there were six percentage points more women praying daily or more than once a day than men.

Prayer Meeting

The GCMS 2017–18 also asked members about their involvement in worship services. When members were asked specifically how often they had attended prayer meetings during the past year and the answers were cross-tabulated by gender, over half of the Adventist women said they had participated in prayer meetings weekly or almost every week. More than one-third (36%) reported they had attended these meetings once a week or more often, and a little less than one in five (16%) shared that they had attended almost every week. However, 30% of women reported that they had never attended prayer meetings or had only attended once or twice during the past year. Surprisingly, more men than women had attended prayer meetings weekly, and the number of women who had never attended the church prayer meetings or had just attended them once or twice a year was higher than that of men.

Help with Church Ministry on Sabbath or During the Week

Similarly, the 2017–18 GCMS asked members how often they had served with a church ministry on Sabbath or during the week; these answers were cross-tabulated by gender. About a third (32%) of Adventist women reported that they had helped with a church ministry on Sabbath every week or more often during the past year. Fifteen percent reported that they had helped almost every week, and 11% had helped once a month. (It should be noted that some churches have a monthly or bi-monthly rotation for volunteers, so this may explain these numbers.)  However, looking at the male subsample, once again, more men than women were involved with church ministries every week or more often. While 32% of Adventist women reported that they had never served with a church ministry on the Sabbath during the past year or they had only done so once or twice, only 27% of men said they had. This may reflect the fact that, in some parts of the world, there are no female elders, with Sabbath School class teachers tending to be men.

Adventist women were also asked how often they had helped with a church ministry during the week. A quarter (25%) of the respondents reported that they had helped with such a ministry every week or more often during the past year. These figures were three percentage points lower than in the total sample, and five percentage points lower compared with men’s involvement in church ministry during the week. Nearly another quarter (21%) shared that they had helped once a month or nearly every week. A surprisingly large number (45%) of women admitted that in the past year, they had never helped with a church ministry during the week, or if they had, it had only been once or twice. This number was three percentage points higher than in the total sample and seven percentage points higher than in the male subsample.

These data and gender comparisons raise some questions. We have significantly more women than men in our churches, and they are a real stronghold of the Church. However, we traditionally thought that they were more religious and more involved in church ministries than men. These data show that while it is more likely that Adventist women pray more than men daily, it is less likely that they are more involved in the church ministries on Sabbath or during the week. Is this an indication that they are busier with their children, families, or other responsibilities than men? Could it be that women are facing more barriers in the church today than we thought? Or could it be that their contributions are often taken for granted? Perhaps more studies should be done on these findings. However, we do not need to wait for the results of future studies to show how much we value women or to limit our appreciation of them in the church to the IWD (March 8). Let us use any opportunity to appreciate all women in our Church and to encourage them to be more involved in church activities. May these thoughts be an encouragement to all women who have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ, and may the following words come true in their lives: “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Prov. 31:31 KJV)

More demographics of the 2017-18 participants can be found:


Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry

Published by ASTR on 03-09-2022


[1] International Women’s Day, Homepage, retrieved from https://www.internationalwomensday.com.

[2] The Seventh-day Adventist Church, Women’s issues, retrieved from https://www.adventist.org/official-statements/womens-issues/