"Graying" of Adventism (more)
Since the last INNOVATIONewsletter, our readership has shown considerable interest in the short research piece on the “graying” of Adventism in North America. We’re glad to hear from so many of you. One of the goals of this newsletter is to spot trends that affect the future of church. These data are a wake-up call for effective leadership to respond in a timely manner. That’s why I’m delighted with the "Just Claim It" Youth Prayer Conference in Dallas, Texas, February 28 - March 4, 2007.
To refresh your memory, the opening statement of the original article said, “The median age for the Seventh-day Adventist community in North America, including the unbaptized children in church families, is 58. The median age for the general public is 36 in the U.S. and 37 in Canada. Among native-born White and Black members the median age is even higher.”
Some told us that they had read in the Adventist Review and elsewhere that the majority of Seventh-day Adventists are under 30 years of age. Keep in mind that those statements are about the worldwide membership; the information we shared is only for North America. The source of that worldwide information is a survey of youth leaders, not direct research with church members. What you’re reading is reflective of Adventist membership in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which is largely comprised of teens and young adults. But when it comes to North America, Europe and Australia, the evidence tells us another story.
Others wanted to know the source of the information we published. We actually gathered information from several different studies. The median age of 58 for Adventists in North America is from a forthcoming study by Dr. Ron Lawson, professor of sociology at the City University of New York, who has published a number of articles in academic journals about the sociology and demographics of the Adventist Church. The median ages for the general population in the U.S. and Canada, we got from the respective census web sites of those two nations. The fact that more than 1,000 Adventist congregations in North America have no children or youth comes from an unpublished survey that the Center for Creative Ministry did for NAD Church Resources in 1997.
If you want to see the details of data on this subject, the Center has published two books with data from multiple surveys: Chapter 3 in Adventist Congregations Today and Chapter 2 in Trends, Attitudes and Opinions in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
INNOVATIONewsletter, November 15, 2006, The Center for Creative Ministry