Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders are responding to data released last month from the Adventist World Survey—one of the largest surveys of local church life in each of the church’s 12 divisions, or regions. A newly formed taskforce began work last week on developing plans of action that will focus on three areas of concern flagged by the survey: church members’ commitment to personal prayer and Bible study, to sharing their faith with others, and community involvement.
“The survey results show us many things to be thankful for as a world church,” says Gerry Karst, a vice president of the Adventist Church and chair of the Strategic Planning task force. He points to results indicating a high level of doctrinal unity, and a high proportion of church members who have assurance of salvation, and live joyful Christian lives.
But according to Karst, the survey results also clearly show areas where improvement is needed. “Personal devotionals, a passion for sharing Christ with our friends and neighbors, and engaging with our communities—these are values that go to the very heart of what it means to be an Adventist,” says Karst. “If we are not strong in these essentials, how can we, as individuals and corporately, effectively pursue the mission we have been given?”
Less than 50 percent of World Survey respondents said they were involved in daily prayer and Bible study, less than 40 percent were active in Christian witness to the community, and just under 30 percent regularly participated in community service.
The Strategic Planning task force, working in consultation with church leaders from each of the church’s divisions, will develop proposed plans of action addressing these areas of concern, and will bring recommendations to world church leaders at Spring Meeting 2003.
The results of the Adventist World Survey were revealed October 7 to some 300 church leaders attending Annual Council, one of two annual meetings of the church’s international executive committee. The study was conducted during the first half of this year and was designed to gather data to help guide the church’s strategic planning process. It covered a broad range of areas, including church members’ devotional lives, their understanding of salvation, their belief in church doctrines, and their witness in the community. For a look at the full World Survey report, go to www.adventist.org.