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By Brian Ford
The Adventist Review online recently published an article “Endangered Adventism,” painting a bleak outlook for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
Here’s a quote from the article: “According to research by Dr. David Trim and the office of Archives, Statistics & Research (ASTR) at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the median age of an Adventist around the world is 32. In the U.S and Canada, that number is 51.
“18.46%. That’s the percentage of Adventist members in North America that are under the age of 40. The percentage under the age of 25—4.55%.”
There is no doubt that there is serious competition for the hearts and minds of young people in North America, but are they truly that close to disappearing from our churches?
Exactly where did these numbers come from?
In 2013, the General Conference conducted an online survey of the North American Division. Email invitations were sent to a selection of churches and 300 of them signed up to participate. Twelve percent of the members in these churches actually filled out the survey — 1,495 people. The report indicates that this is a fairly typical response for online surveys. Of these 1,495 people, 4.55 percent were 25 or younger and 18.46 percent were 40 or younger.
It’s clear that this survey was carefully prepared by a meticulous team. The question is, are these 1,495 members a representative sample of 1 million+ members in North America? Is this the best data we have?
eAdventist is North America’s membership records and currently contains more than 1.15 million members. More than 780,000 of these members have provided their birth dates.
|1,495 versus 780,00
2016 members by 10-year groups (eAdventist)
Query those 780,000 people like it’s 2013 and a very different picture emerges:
Median age of members = 46
Members 25 and under = 16.8 percent
Members 40 and under = 40.0 percent
If you exclude people under 10, the median age of the United States (2010 Census) is 42, and Canada (2011 Census) is about 44. Even more encouraging, the median age of members joining by baptism or profession of faith in the past 8 years is 32.
|Baptisms by age (eAdventist)
Most young adults are making major life changes — launching careers, deciding on relationships or marriage and evaluating their commitment to God and church. Let’s encourage and welcome them whether they attend regularly or occasionally. Thankfully, it appears that the reports of their extinction have been exaggerated.
— This article originally appeared on eAdventist News.
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