TED research part of solution for membership retention

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15 April 2019 | Washington DC [Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review / tedNEWS] 

TED Leaders participate and share ideas on what is working to keep members in church and engaged.

Paul Tompkins, Scottish Mission President, shares his practical research on youth retention. [All photos: Audrey Andersson]“Do you think you’ll still be an Adventist by age 40?” asked Scottish Mission president Paul Tompkins to an 18-year-old a few years ago. “I hope I’ll still be an Adventist by age 40,” she answered, “but I’m not so sure about next year.”

Tompkins, a presenter at the 2019 Nurture and Retention Summit at the Adventist Church headquarters on April 7, 2019, used this exchange to illustrate how young people often relate to time. “Turning 40 seems far off,” he said. “They are more worried about the here and now.”

Tompkins said that an evaluation of risks in the region he serves has identified their number-one risk: Children and young adults not buying into Adventism.

“Why are they leaving?” Tompkins asked. Answering his own question, he said that even though some reasons are difficult to articulate, there are some things any church and church region can do to slow down and even prevent this disengagement process. He was among scores of other church leaders from around the world, who met in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, for the three-day event, and also shared what they are doing to reverse the trend.

Tompkins contribution to the event followed 15 years of youth leadership across the Trans-European division during which time he completed a doctorate in nurture and retention, as well as working closely with his counterparts in the Inter-European Division in the development of the intergenerational Churches of Refugee concept [iCOR]

The key idea is that the church should be “a safe haven that provides protection, mediation, justice, and long-term nurturing care.” At the same time, the initiative seeks to include “all generations, all cultures, and all social classes.”

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