Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Graying of North American Adventists

The following is from Center for Creative Ministry Newsletter.

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 The fact that more than 1,000 Adventist congregations in North America have no children or youth comes from an unpublished survey that the Center for Creative Ministry did for NAD Church Resources in 1997.

That is a rather amazing statistic because that means that over half of the North American Adventists are older then 58 years of Age. When we consider that the future of the church is held on the other side of that median we really should be thinking about how we reach out to the post modern world and our own post modern children.

Here are some statistics from Canada developed from 2001 data:

Median age of Protestants well above national level

The median age of individuals who identified themselves as Protestant in 2001 was 42 years, well above the median of 37 for the Canadian population as a whole. (Median age is the point where exactly one-half of the population is older, and the other half is younger.)

Those who identified themselves as Anglican had a median age of 44, as did United Church members. Lutherans had a median age of 43, while Presbyterians were the oldest, with a median age of 46.

Conversely, Protestant denominations recording growth were generally younger. The median age of those reporting Hutterite as their religion in 2001 was 22 years. For Mormons, the median was 29; Christian and Missionary Alliance, 34.5; and Adventists, 35.5. All were below the median for the total population.

Assuming Ron Lawson is correct and we have not seen the data yet, that is a huge difference between the Canadian numbers and the United States numbers. In fact possibly too big a gap to be believed. Though Adventists in Canada represent an even smaller percentage of the population then in the U.S.

Canadian Adventist Statistics: Churches, 341; membership, 57,431; population, 32,950,000 about 0.17% of population

United States Adventist statistics 2001: 724,000 self identified 0.3% of population.

Today the SDA church is estimating their U.S. membership at 1 million.

The discrepancy may be caused by a predominance of immigrants in Canada which tend to have younger Adventist characteristics as those in Asia and Africa etc. Though that is only speculation on my part. I do know that the church my wifes relatives attend is very small, mainly elderly and rural.

Hopefully we will see more about these statistics in the not to distant future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could the computer and the internet have something to do with this finding for North America? As an older (63) member I see many of those older then I am who seldom use the computer or the internet to study or search for issues regarding the SDA church. Most have blind faith upon what our schools and churches have taught.

On the other hand, those who use the internet to search for blogs and articles have found sites providing evidence showing EGW was a false prophet. The anger they have for being lied to by the teachers and pastors has caused most of them to leave Adventism for other churches.

Therefore it is no wonder that older members are the majority. After all, how many kids want to stay in our church when they are not being fed NEW TRUTH? No wonder I find many of them listening to my internet radio show called "THE BIBLE ON TRIAL".

R. Humpal, JD