In our last blog, we looked at the role of youth and young adults in decision-making within the Southern Asia-Pacific Division; we also examined the presence of leadership programming at various levels of Church organization. In this blog, we will explore similar survey questions in the West-Central Africa Division (WAD).
The 2017-2018 Global Church Member Survey (2017-18 GCMS), conducted on behalf of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, collected data from Divisions of the Adventist Church worldwide. Data was collected from the WAD by Professor Elizabeth Role and her team. A total of 2,432 Church members were surveyed in eight out of ten Unions in the WAD territory. A majority of respondents were male (63%), and the age of respondents ranged from 15 years or younger to 80 years or older. Interestingly, close to 11% of respondents in this Division reported having some form of disability; the highest category was visual disability (2%).
Youth Involvement in Mission
During the 2017-18 GCMS, Church members in the WAD were asked about the youth/young people’s involvement in carrying out the mission of the local church. A vast majority (82%) agreed to one degree or another that the young people in their congregations were involved in carrying out the mission of the local church. Eleven percent admitted that they were not sure about the involvement of youth, while less than one in ten (7%) disagreed.
This finding is especially encouraging when the age groups of survey participants are considered. More than half (52%) of the sample were young people up to 35 years old. The most highly represented age groups were 21–25 years (14.3%) and 26–30 years (14.2%). It is apparent that young people felt that they themselves were actively involved in the mission of their local churches.
Youth Leadership Development
The 2017-18 GCMS participants were asked how different levels of Church leadership supported and prepared young people to become leaders. Within the WAD, most members were aware of the presence of youth leadership development programming at various levels of the Church.
When asked if their local church had a program for preparing young people to become leaders, nearly three-fourths (74%) of respondents agreed that such a program existed, while 12% shared that such a program was not in place. An additional 15% shared that they were not sure. It is slightly concerning that this number of members were not sure about such programs being in place at their local church.
This should serve as a challenge to local church leadership either to ensure that there is greater awareness of programs that are already in place or to develop a youth leadership program altogether.
When the WAD survey respondents were asked if their Conference/Mission provided a program to prepare young people to become leaders, again three-fourths (74%) of respondents shared that such a program existed; 9% shared that such a program did not exist. A greater number (17%) admitted that they were not sure about this kind of program. Again, this should serve as a challenge to Church leadership at the Conference/Mission level to ensure that local church leaders and members, alike, be aware of programs that are in place.
Finally, the WAD survey participants were asked if their Union had a program for preparing young people to become leaders. A slightly smaller number (71%) agreed that such a program existed, while 9% shared that such programming was not in place. It was at this level of Church leadership that the greatest number (20%) of respondents were unsure about the presence of this kind of Union-implemented program. It is concerning that one-fifth of the entire Conference/Mission was unaware of leadership programming.
These findings should serve as an encouragement to Union leadership to disseminate better the information about programming that is already available. Sharing such information might boost participation and the impact of such programs, especially in light of the large number of young people in this Division.
Thus, the research findings show that the WAD has a great potential for having missionary-minded people as their resource. Compared to overall results of the total sample, this Division is ahead in having programming in place for preparing young leaders in local congregations. There are still some challenges to be met, especially in places where members had not indicated that they were aware of having such programs.
Our current generation of leaders will not always be present to guide and direct the Church. It is vital that new leaders be trained and that they come to know their Heavenly Father. In this way, we can have faith in a strong future for the Adventist Church.
“But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” (Jer. 1:7 KJV)
For more information on the total sample of the 2017-18 GCMS see the Meta-Analysis Report.
For more information on findings from SSD, see the 2017-18 WAD GCMS Report.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR on 05-05-2021.