Constituency Session Survey Part 3—Church Growth

Early church days saw vigorous growth. However, today, we are seeing our growth plateau or, in some cases, decline. Here are some trends which concern our UCC leaders.

1. Eighty to eighty-five percent of Adventist churches (in North America) are not growing.

2. Fifty percent or more members are absent on any given Sabbath.

3. Sixty percent of delegates in the last constituency session were at least 50 years old.

4. There are fewer conversions from the cultural mainstream of America.

5. The UCC baptismal total in 2006 was the lowest since 1946 (excluding Hispanics).

6. Forty-two UCC churches had no baptisms in 2006, which is a growing trend.

7. Many Adventist churches have little, or no involvement in their community.

8. Two-thirds of local U.S. churches are located where only 20% of people live.

9. Culture shift demands new evangelism methods, but the church has few discretionary funds.

10. More of our resources, both in finances and time, are spent on ourselves.

The bottom line to these indicators is a tendency to be fuzzy in our thinking about the purpose of our church. In some cases, our churches have turned inward on themselves rather than outward to their communities.

The delegate’s perception of how evangelism is being done is briefly addressed by the following survey questions. Please notice the subtle and not so subtle indicators for the focus we have on ourselves. There are also some encouraging insights to be gained. The question is: “Can we continue the way we are?”

My church had the following number of baptisms: (Choose one)

None 12%

1 or 2 18%

3-5 25%

6-10 24%

10 or more 21%

The following had the greatest influence in making my decision for baptism: (Choose one)

Family 41%

Friends 8%

Church service 5%

Adventist school 16%

Evangelistic meetings 12%

Bible studies 10%

Junior baptismal class 7%

Pathfinder event 1%

Youth camp 1%

I have talked to the following non-members about Jesus in the past three months: (Choose all that apply)

Children or grandchildren 18%

Co-worker 14%

Relative 17%

Neighbor 12%

Stranger 12%

Friend 23%

No one 3%

I have invited a non-member to church this year.

Yes 59%

No 41%

I gave a Bible study this month.

Yes 30%

No 70%

My congregation connects with the community by: (Choose one)

Giving Bible studies 5%

Conducting lifestyle seminars 23%

Inviting friends to church activities 16%

Forming small groups 5%

Hosting a Pathfinder, Adventurer and/or Eager Beaver Club 5%

Sponsoring kids to summer camp 2%

Sending out brochures for evangelistic meetings 8%

Holding Vacation Bible School 15%

Another way not listed here 19%

February 01, 2008 / Upper Columbia Conference