Although more than 115,000 people were recorded as either deceased or dropped during the last five years, the church saw a net gain of more than 70,000 new Adventists. In recent years, the world church as a whole has sought to have more accurate accounting of membership, with regular audits of member rolls in many locations.
In 2009, the North American Division is setting an ambitious goal of 100,000 new members, which will be the focus of an evangelistic outreach called “Share The Hope” which will launch Jan. 3 with a day of prayer and include “reaping” meetings in April and September. The effort will involve local church meetings, weekly television and satellite broadcasts, and a broad-based evangelistic effort. The General Conference previously set 2009 as a global “Year of Evangelism.”
“Whenever we invite people to [meet] Jesus, things happen,” said Don C. Schneider, NAD president. “Every time we open a church, another person hears about Jesus.”
Bryant added, “God has some great things ahead for this division. Our best days are ahead of us. Our members are getting more and more involved in evangelism.”
At the same time, Bryant pleaded for an increased workload: “Make my job hard by growing the church at such a fast rate that a secretary would have a hard time keeping up.”
From the statistical information provided, church growth has hovered around 2 percent annually in the division, as opposed to 2.24 percent for the world church as reported in October at Annual Council. For every 100 members in North America, baptism or profession of faith added 3.59 new members.
More than 45,000 Seventh-day Adventists in North America are involved in either long-term or short-term missionary activities. Nearly 3,400 are long-term missionaries overseas and in the division; the balance are involved in short-term projects, including 28,000 serving with Adventist Community Services, the division’s relief arm.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church was founded in the United States in 1863. Today, it is active in more than 200 countries and territories. The church has recorded more than 15.7 million baptized members worldwide; an estimated 25 to 30 million people attend Adventist worship weekly.