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.

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