Jump directly to the content

Adventists Assess Why 1 in 3 Members Leave the Church

Why does the worldwide denomination lose 43 people for every 100 it converts? Hint: It’s not doctrine...
Adventists Assess Why 1 in 3 Members Leave the Church Image: Ansel Oliver/Adventist News Network
Adventist Researcher Monte Sahlin presents data on church retention.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church boasts 18 million members worldwide. But leaders recently revealed the denomination has lost one in three members over the last 50 years.

Additionally, for every 100 people the Adventist church gains, it loses 43 previous members, according to research presented at the denomination's first Summit on Nurture and Retention, reports Adventist News Network (ANN).

The main reason for the low rate of retention: personal problems and experiences, according to Adventist researcher Monte Sahlin. People do not drop out based on the church or its doctrines, but because of personal trouble like marital conflict or unemployment, he told ANN.

The Adventist answer to growing membership may not be in adding new faces, but taking care of the people who are already there, leaders suggested. In South Africa, for example, the rate of adding new parishioners had slowed, but retaining current numbers had significantly increased the church's membership.

Recent Adventist data reveals areas where the denomination has seen both growth and decline. Southern Asia, Latin America, and Southern Africa have pushed worldwide membership to nearly 18 million, while the 15 fastest-declining countries are in the Adventist church's Euro-Asia, Trans-European, and Inter-European divisions.

Regarding doctrine, the Adventist's North American division recently experienced a significant step toward changes on women's ordination. The division affirmed a report supporting women's ordination in a six-to-one vote, reports Spectrum Magazine.

While the vote was strongly in favor, no policies have yet been changed. Religion News Service offers a lengthy report on the ongoing debate.

CT regularly covers Seventh-day Adventists, including how the church was somewhat sad and embarrassed to be celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Posted:December 9, 2013 at 4:11PM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.
Recent Posts
Princeton Seminary Reforms Its Views on Honoring Tim Keller
School rescinds a major theology prize amid complaints over women’s ordination.
ERLC Defends Russell Moore, Who Apologizes for His Role in Trump Divide
SBC agency says Moore’s job requires ‘speaking prophetically both to our culture and to our Convention.’
Russia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Group gives Protestants competition for souls, but also an ally on religious freedom.
Evangelical Leaders Challenge Trump’s ‘America First’ Budget
Group of 100 prominent Christians worry severe cuts to foreign aid will reverse progress at reducing poverty.
Christianity Today
Adventists Assess Why 1 in 3 Members Leave the Church