Adventist to Population Ratios

In 1863 there was one Seventh-day Adventist for every 373,143 people in the world, so taking the gospel message to all the world seemed to be an overwhelming challenge. In less than 50 years, however—by 1900—we had one member for every 21,487 people! Another 50 years, 1950, and we had one for every 3,300. In 2000 there was one member for every 519 people. And by the end of 2007 it was one for every 429 people on earth. What amazing progress!

The church now claims almost 16 million members, or 25 to 30 million members if we count the children, as most churches do. We are no longer just an English-speaking church in North America. Spanish is now the church’s number one language. One third of the members live in Central and South America. One third lives in Africa. And the final third is divided up between North America, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the former Soviet Union, and the rest of the world.

The Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division now has one Adventist for every 68 people. Inter-America has one for every 90. South America has one for every 114. The East-Central African Division has one member for every 119 people. The North American Division has one member for every 319 people. In 18 countries Adventists make up more than 5 percent of the population. And in several countries Adventists are 10 percent or more of the population!

This is fantastic progress. We have much for which to be thankful. But before we pat ourselves too much on the back, let’s look at some other statistics:

  • 53 countries have more than 10,000 people for every Adventist.
  • 20 countries have more than 100,000 people per Adventist.
  • 10 countries report more than 1,000,000 people per Adventist.

Let me illustrate it another way.

Let’s pretend we can climb the tallest building in South America and have all the people living in the South American Division file by one per second, single file, 24 hours a day. How often would we see a Seventh-day Adventist walk past? Every 1.9 minutes.

But if we climbed the Mount of Olives in Israel (or the mountains of Central Asia) we would have to wait 148 minutes (2.5 hours) between every Adventist. And if you came with me to Egypt and we sat on a pyramid and had the people of Egypt file by one per second, single file, 24 hours a day, we would have more than a day between each member (25.1 hours). For Saudi Arabia it would be 284 days (9.5 months) between each Adventist!

In Matthew 9:37, 38 Jesus says our focus doesn’t need to be on the harvest, because the harvest is already ripe. He says we should be praying for laborers.

From “Wanted: Laborers for the Harvest“, Adventist World, June 2009

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