2 November 2021 | Kyoshin Ahn, executive secretary of the North American Division (NAD), gave his report at the second business session of the NAD Year-End Meeting in Columbia, Maryland, on Oct. 31, 2021. Statistics on membership growth (or lack thereof) were shared, as well as broader overview of what the church looks like in the NAD. To watch the entire business meeting, click here.

Highlights included:

  • The NAD connected with Gallup Research to conduct a national survey on how Americans see the Adventist Church in terms of brand awareness, religion, interest, and values.
    • Approximately one out of five Americans personally know someone who is a member of the Adventist Church
    • When the Adventist Church’s favorability was ranked with other faiths and denominations, the church was listed as largely unfavorable, with a ranking of 13 out of 17 — with 17 the most unfavorable.
    • “What this survey shows us is that we have work to do in terms of our brand awareness,” said Ahn.

Too Few in the Pew

The growth rate has been plateauing for some time.

    • In 2010, the accession rate (how many members are added per every 100 members) was 3.63 percent. In 2019, it went down to 2.73 percent and in 2020, just reached 1.44 percent.
    • There was a 2,827 net increase in members in 2020, a figure that included a total of 17,392 accessions (a decrease of about 55 percent if compared with a year prior).
    • In the last decade, losses — those members who are dropped or are missing — have averaged 12,000 members a year, or about one percent. In 2018 they reached 14,622, but just 11,572 in 2019. In 2020, only 5,896 losses were recorded (0.47 percent).
    • Since 2010, the NAD lost 500,704 members and gained 698,610.
    • Missional losses and gains — those that resulted from evangelistic endeavors — totaled 122,021 and 327,241, respectively (losses amounted to 36.7 percent of new members).

Church by the Numbers

    • In 2011, every congregation added, on average, more than six new members. That figure has decreased to a little more than four people per congregation.
    • The mean size (or mathematical middle) of churches and companies in the NAD is 187 members per congregation.
    • The median size (the middle when all congregations are aligned in a row) is 106 members. This means that “half of our congregations are larger than 106, and half are smaller, including all companies,” Brian Ford, director of eAdventist Membership Services, said.
    • Most churches have between 1-199 baptized members.
    • While small churches make up half of the churches, they represent only one-tenth of the members, meaning that nine of 10 members belong to one of the largest churches.
    • 32 percent of baptized members in the NAD are over 60 years old. Another 47 percent are between 30 and 59. Only 20 percent are 13-29, and one percent are 0-12 (statistics do not take into account members not yet baptized).
    • The median age of Adventist members in the NAD is 48 years old (in contrast with the median age of the general population, which is 40.9 in Canada and 38.4 in the U.S.).
    • As of Dec. 31, 2020, the Adventist Church in the division had 1,265,754 baptized members, who worship in 5,639 churches and 894 companies.
    • NAD Adventist members comprise just 5.83 percent of the worldwide Adventist membership.
    • Fun fact not mentioned in the report: In 2016, the NAD gave $74.2 million (all figures in USD) to the General Conference, while the rest of the world combined gave $25.8 million, according to an article from Spectrum Magazine.

To view more 2021 Year-End Meeting coverage, click here.

(Photo: Kyoshin Ahn, executive secretary for the North American Division, gave his report to the division’s executive committee on Oct. 31, 2021. Photo by Pieter Damsteegt)

This NAD report was edited by AT staff.

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