October 30, 2013


Seventh-day Adventists are using the Internet just like everyone else in our world today. The majority of active members in North America (54 percent) use electronic mail (e-mail) on a daily basis. Another 17 percent use it occasionally, which means that seven out of 10 Adventists in the United States, Canada, and Bermuda can now be reached by e-mail if church organizations have the e-mail addresses of church members.

E-mail has great advantages over sending paper through the post office. It’s not necessary to purchase stamps or destroy trees to make paper, and the response can be much quicker. For younger generations, electronic communication has become the standard way to relate and do business. In fact, 28 percent of North American Adventists use text messaging on their mobile phone daily. Another 16 percent use it less often. That’s nearly half the church membership and the reason more and more pastors and local church ministries leaders use text messaging to get out the word to prayer circles, announce the key text for this week’s sermon or Bible study, etc. 30 1 6 0

“I regularly send electronic reminders on the morning of a committee meeting or Bible study group,” one young pastor told me recently.

The Internet has also opened up new possibilities for publishing. One in eight Adventists in North America post material they have written on a blog or social networking Web site each day. Another 18 percent do so less often. That means nearly a third of the membership is publishing something via electronic media on a regular basis.

Do these new media bring people closer to their local church? That may be a weak area. Only 3 percent of Adventists report that they check their church Web site on a daily basis, although another 27 percent do so less often. This may be because relatively few churches publish new material each day. Experts claim that Web sites that are not updated daily tend to be ignored.

What Do These Data Mean?

Computers have become an important part of Adventist life. Significant numbers of Adventists are sharing their faith and engaging in church life via electronic connections. Increasingly, church leadership demands skills in using the Web, text messaging, and e-mail. As the volume of material published electronically grows, an understanding of how to use these media creatively becomes more and more vital to the mission and ministry of the Adventist Church and to church life in its most local settings.

Are local churches and conferences providing adequate training for the people who lead Sabbath school, conduct community services, and implement outreach programs? Are we utilizing the skilled people in the Adventist movement who know how to use these new media to communicate and attract an audience most effectively? Are denominational leaders developing adequate plans for the impact of new media on our traditional publishing ministries?

The data I’ve shared here are from a survey conducted in 2009-2010 with a random sample of 1,152 respondents who attend church. It was conducted for the North American Division by the Institute of Church Ministry at Andrews University under the direction of Roger Dudley. n