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How Far Do You Live from Your Church?
Three out of four active members of the typical Seventh-day Adventist Church in major metropolitan areas do not live in the same community where their church is located. A third live in a different neighborhood in the same city, and two in five live in different towns in the same county or even different counties.

There are a few Adventist congregations where the majority of the regular-attending members live in the community where their church is located. But in most cases few if any members live in the community where the congregation’s ministries should be focused. This is a major barrier to the mission of the church in the U.S., especially in the metropolitan areas where four out of five Americans live.

Research has shown that community involvement is one of the most important factors in Adventist church growth and when few, if any, of the members of a congregation live in the community, effective involvement is much more difficult. The result is large cultural gaps between Adventist congregations and the people that God has called them to reach.

Church growth would increase if more church members moved into the neighborhood where their church is located. Church growth would be enhanced further if the church enlarged its good-neighbor activities in the local community. Christ’s concern about “Who is my neighbor?” needs to be revived among Adventists if they are serious about the mission Christ has given the Church.

Discussion Questions:

1. How many of our members live in the same zip code area (postal code in Canada) as our church? How many live in a different zip code but the same city or town as our church? How many live in a different town but the same county as our church? How many live outside the county? [Gather this information by simply counting the addresses listed in the church directory.]

2. What does this mean for our church and its impact on the community?

3. Is our church seen as a “good neighbor” by the people who live in our community?

4. Is this something that needs careful study? Should we appoint a task force and authorize a community study to be done?

The Center for Creative Ministry conducts community studies for local churches. Each study is custom-designed to meet the specific needs and budget limitations of your congregation. If you would like to explore this possibility, send a request to info@creativeministry.org .

Paul Richardson
Executive Director
Center for Creative Ministry

Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, October 5, 2007.