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Name Recognition in Northeast Metro Areas
In the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast, only a third of the population recognizes the name of the Seventh-day Adventist in random telephone surveys. Across the country it averages 56 percent of the population in the most recent national survey, conducted for the North American Division by the Center for Creative Ministry in 2003.

Midwest cities may be a little closer to the national average. Sunbelt metros evidently have a higher percentage of public awareness of the Adventist Church, especially on the West Coast. Why is the Adventist message and mission so invisible in the Northeast cities? This is, after all, the region where the church began in the mid-19th century and Ellen White has written that “the message will return to the East with power.”

This area of the country has been historically neglected by Adventist missionary efforts. Nearly a third of the American people live in the Northeast: 90 million out of 300 million. Ellen White repeatedly pled with church leaders from 1906 through the end of her life in 1915 to do something extraordinary to reach this region, but nothing of any real effect came of her pleas. She even had a strong confrontation with General Conference President A. G. Daniells on this subject in 1909. (You can find a description of this event in her official biography.) Yet denominational leadership, in general (there are some strong exceptions), has continued to ignore what must be done in this mission field.

This is a textbook example of a classic problem in missiology: Are these areas more resistant or are they neglected? Has the Adventist Church developed the approaches necessary given the cultural realities of urban life? Has it devoted the effort and funding necessary to figure out how to work with and through the resistance that it may encounter? Or, has it insisted on continuing to apply the same approach that has worked in the Sunbelt?

Discussion Questions:

1. If our church is located in the Northeast sector of the U.S, is it located in a major metropolitan area? How do we feel about the progress of the mission of our church in this area?

2. What is the public awareness of the Adventist Church in our community?

3. Are we using approaches that are best suited to the context in which we are working? Or, are we simply using traditional methods without regard to whether they are the most appropriate or not?

4. If we are located outside the Northeast and happy with the church growth rate in our congregation, are we willing to partner with a church or mission in a Northeastern city and organize a mission trip to help with the work there.

This is just one item from Mission in Metropolis, a comprehensive new study of the current status of the Seventh-day Adventist mission in the major metropolitan areas where four out of five Americans live.

Paul Richardson
Executive Director
Center for Creative Ministry

Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, August 23, 2007, Center for Creative Ministry