by Dale Galusha, President of Pacific Press
“The Adventist world church, now with nearly 18 million members, has lost at least 1 in 3 Seventh-day Adventist members in the last 50 years.”
Also, in this century, for every 100 new converts, 43 church members disappear out the back door—READ ENTIRE REPORT!
At nearly every major meeting I’ve attended recently, there has been discussion and prayer about the crucial issue of the high dropout rate of Adventist church members. Statements are made that we must do something about it. But where do we begin? We can become so overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge, that we are not sure where to start.
Obviously, there is no single solution, no single method, that will work in every situation to retain members. Much depends on the personalities of both the new members and the congregation. But here are five suggestions on how print publications can help the local church hold on to its members:
1. Get the new member reading the Conflict of the Ages!
Ellen White wrote: “Many will depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits. Patriarchs and Prophets and Great Controversy are books that are especially adapted to those who have newly come to the faith, that they may be established in the truth” (Evangelism, p. 366).
This was written before she completed writing the Conflict of the Ages series. I believe she was saying that when a member understands the “Great Controversy theme,” it will hold him or her in the church. All the doctrines of Adventism make sense in the context of the great controversy theme brought out so clearly and so beautifully in the five volumes of the Conflict of the Ages.
That’s why many churches give a Conflict of the Ages set to each newly baptized member.
With the importance of this in mind, Pacific Press has produced a workbook to help individuals or small groups study their way through the great themes of the “Conflict” set. It’s called The Great Controversy Countdown and it is a simple-to-follow study guide designed specifically for those who are studying the Conflict set for the first time. CLICK HERE!
2. Start a New Members Bible Class!
In addition, the General Conference has partnered with Pacific Press to develop a four-quarter Sabbath School curriculum for new members. It combines a study of our beliefs with training for discipleship. These quarterlies, New Members Bible Study Guides, are available at: CLICK HERE!
3. Send a missionary magazine to new members!
Another effective way of retaining new members is to send them a year’s subscription to the appropriate missionary journal—Signs of the Times, El Centinela, or Message Magazine. These monthly visitors can reinforce beliefs as well as give the person a sense of membership in the church family. These magazines offer twelve visits a year to the home via the mail for about $1 a visit. A subscription, combined with pastoral visits, helps solidify new members in the church.
4. Encourage new members to share their faith!
Another factor that keeps new members in the church is their involvement in sharing their new faith with friends and family. Your Adventist Book Center has a variety of sharing tracts, booklets, and books that members can use to share their faith and that will also re-enforce the Adventist message in their own minds.
5. Help new members develop a daily devotional plan!
Helping members develop a regular, daily devotional plan is another crucial way to tie them more securely to their Lord and to His church. Our church produces new daily devotional books for all ages each year. CLICK HERE to see the 2015 line-up of great devotionals.
These are just a few of the resources available to help churches and pastors keep members in the church. It was the influence of printed materials that helped bring many of these members to our church, and it is that same influence—the printed page—that will help keep them in the family. Find all these items, and many more in your local Adventist Book Center.