The Seventh-day Adventist Church officially has just over 2.5 million members in eight South American countries, according to updated records from the organization's Executive Secretariat. However, how many members are frequent, how many are not, and who are the ones that Adventist leadership often say need to be sought or rescued? A new survey carried out by the Adventist Church obtained an index of 97.6% of members classified according to their involvement in official programs, as well as indicators related to spiritual aspects of the members.
“It was a big job, with all the secretaries, and it reached this level of precision. Behind these data, all people are identified,” emphasizes Pastor Edward Heidinger, executive secretary of the Adventist South American headquarters.
The report presented during the Adventist Church's Annual Council, which takes place this week, shows that 56.2% of the total membership (i.e., 1,438,454) is considered frequent. A percentage of 12.9% (329,845) is classified as infrequent. The frequent ones are the people who usually participate in the regular services and programs considered official by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The other group, on the other hand, exhibits contrary behavior; that is, it is not assiduous to official Adventist programs for different reasons.
At the same time, the report showed other classifications of members regarding participation in the life of the church. A group of 7.1% is appointed as frequent members who are in the process of transfer. They are part of a specific Adventist congregation, but their membership is in a different congregation.
People to Rescue
Another group, however, draws attention when looking at the statistics. This is 17% (435,388) who need to be rescued. “They are baptized people, they continue to be members, but they no longer attend the congregation on a regular basis. People in the community, however, know who these people are and where they are. And, therefore, they need to be motivated to return,” comments Heidinger.
The report also showed that 4.4% of the members (113,156) have unknown whereabouts. They also need to be sought out and the object of intercessory prayer, but the Adventist community does not have information about where these people are and can be found.
Relationship Between Frequency and Other Religious Habits
The Executive Secretariat's report also tried to cross-check some of the data. These analyses allow, for example, one to establish a relationship between attendance at church services and religious habits among Adventists.
The data already show that, proportionally, 17 Adventist members are needed to give a Bible study. With the survey carried out by the Executive Secretariat, it became clear, for example, that ten frequent members are needed to be given a Bible study.
When it comes to tithing faithfulness, then the relationship between church attendance and this attitude becomes even more evident. The report noted that, among frequent members, 27.8% are considered regular tithe payers.
The report is quite revealing because it also leads to the understanding that it is necessary to work even more on mobilizing members so that they are frequent. And consequently, they become more directly involved with the mission in different areas: fidelity to God, shepherding the members, and teaching.
The picture presented is important because it illustrates the reality from the frequency of Adventist members. With accurate and reliable data, it is possible to think of the necessary outlets to care for the herd. Pastor Heidinger pointed out, using the biblical metaphor for sheep grazing, that the Adventist Church needs to better understand the condition of members in order to then work on their rescue.
This is the case of the Reencounter Program, which annually seeks to motivate the leadership of local congregations to do systematic visitation, intercessory prayer, and support for people who no longer attend church.
Pastor Hensley Mooroven, associate secretary for the Adventist world church, attended the presentation of the report. He stressed the need for these data to become important information to compose the overall work strategy of the Executive Secretariat at all levels.