By AT News Team, March 4, 2015:   In 2014 Adventists planted 2,446 new congregations, a single-year record, reported the Adventist Review. This is 381 higher than last year, and it “tops the previous record of 2,416 churches in 2002, said David Trim, director of the Adventist Church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.”

Church planting is credited with fueling a second record, the highest membership growth in a single year—1,167,796 new members. According to the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, this brings total denominational membership to nearly 18.5 million.

“Countless studies show that church planting is the most effective form of sustained church growth — confirming the testimony of the book of Acts, the counsel of Ellen White, and the Adventist Church’s own history,” the Adventist Review quoted Gary Krause as saying. Krause is director of Adventist Mission, which supports church planting in geographical areas where Adventist congregations are not present.

By the end of 2014, “one out of every 392 people in the global population of 7.238 billion is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, an uptick from one in 393 people in 2013 and one in 459 people a decade earlier in 2004,” reported the Adventist Review.

Ted Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, responded to the statistics: “Praise God for His goodness and blessing! By His grace, the emphasis on Mission to the Cities and comprehensive health ministry will accelerate the accessions [new members] as pastors, administrators, and members allow the Holy Spirit to guide in all that is done.”

Wilson continued, “We give God the glory for all the positive membership statistics. As I see world conditions and understand Biblical prophecy, I am firmly convinced that God is preparing the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the culminating proclamation of the three angels’ messages and the final loud cry.”

G.T. Ng, executive secretary of the denomination, noted the work of those involved in planting. “Obviously pastors have been busy going about the King’s business. Not to forget our unsung heroes, trained and dedicated churches members are toiling behind their pastors, giving their time and means for the kingdom.”

Despite the reported growth, Ng cautioned that the statistical picture is not uniform. “In spite of the upbeat membership growth and outstanding number of newly planted churches, we must be mindful of the slow growth, nongrowth and reclining areas of the world. Great swathes of population are still steeped in traditional religions. They need our continued intercession and encouragement,” he said.