Not So Happy, Happy Home: Lack of Family Worship Possibly Related to Youth Exodus from Adventist Church
- In 2013 only 36 percent of respondents had family worship daily, and even those who experienced it more than once a week were below 60 percent of the total.
- In 2018, the proportion of people that said they never had daily worship rose to 21 percent.
- Also, the number of people reporting that they had family worship several times a week decreased in 2018.
08 February 2022 | The Adventist church is getting old, and can’t seem to hang onto its youth.
David Trim, Ph.D., director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research at the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, disclosed the numbers to back up these claims in an article in the Adventist Review.
A 2008 survey commissioned by the North American Division (NAD) found the median age of church members in North America was 51. In the 2018 global Church Member Survey, 58 percent of respondents in the NAD were aged over 55, and the average age of respondents was 57 years, Trim reported.
The situation is much the same in Europe and Japan.
“Our baptized youth are leaving, or our Adventist children are not being baptized—or both,” said Trim in the article. “There’s probably no region of the world church that doesn’t suffer significant loss of young church members.”
Notably, the trend of membership loss, especially among young people, coincided with evidence of a declining trend in family worship, according to data from the 2013 and the 2018 global Church Member Surveys.
In 2013 only 36 percent of respondents had family worship daily, and even those who experienced it more than once a week were below 60 percent of the total. Moreover, one in six respondents reported that they had never had family worship. In two divisions, those who had never had family worship exceeded 20 percent.
In 2018, the proportion that answered they never had daily worship rose to 21 percent. Also, the proportion who reported family worship several times a week decreased.
Another notable question on the 2018 survey asked whether, during childhood, “having morning or evening worship with one or more parents was a habitual practice in my family.” The percentage of people who agreed was less than 50 percent.
Trim said the responses suggest that regular family worship is not only uncommon today, “but that it hasn’t been [common] for some considerable time.”
However, correlation is not causation.
Others factors could be at play. Trim noted that most of the survey responses came from church members, and that data about child family worship among former Adventist would firm up evidence of a causal relationship.
Also, Trim’s article did not mention data from the Gallup Research national survey on how Americans see the Adventist Church in terms of brand awareness, religion, interest and values. About 20 percent of all Americans know an Adventist, but even knowing someone in the church did not increase the church’s favorability among the public. The church was listed as largely unfavorable, with a ranking of 13 out of 17 — with 17 the most unfavorable.
Peer pressure or influence has a powerful effect on teens and decision-making, as numerous research has shown.
Still, parental influence is very important. “It’s the biggest factor shaping your child’s values and long-term choices,” according to RaisingChildren.net.au, the Australian parenting website.
(Photo: The church is losing its youth, possibly due to lack of family worship, reported David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research at the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Image by Jose Antonio Alba from Pixabay.)