Wahroonga, New South Wales
By the end of 2015 there were 445,590 Seventh-day Adventist Church members in the South Pacific Division (SPD), according to recently released membership data.
. . . if we are only growing at the rate of population growth we are not really making a greater impact on the people in the communities we live in.
This means that SPD membership grew 3.8 per cent during 2015. It is interesting to compare the population growth with membership growth. In Australia, membership grew at only 1.03 per cent (2015), while the population grew 1.57 per cent in 2014. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), church membership grew 4.93 per cent in 2015, while population data suggests a growth rate of 2.09 per cent. The other unions are harder to compare as they have multiple countries within them. However, both the New Zealand Pacific and Trans Pacific Unions recorded growth rates of more than 3 per cent. So in many SPD countries the Church is growing slightly faster than the population.
“It is so good that we are growing as a Church—many [denominations] are not growing and so we can be thankful for God’s blessing,” said SPD president Glenn Townend. “However, if we are only growing at the rate of population growth we are not really making a greater impact on the people in the communities we live in. I am praying for growth beyond the population growth and ask others to join me.”
Data from the Church’s “2016 Annual Statistical Report” reveals that the SPD had 26,331 baptisms and professions of faith in 2015, slightly less than the 28,186 in 2014. This means that 72 people joined the Church across the Division per day.
“While there have been good increases in baptisms and profession of faith over past years and particularly since 2007, the membership of the Church in the SPD has not risen as dramatically,” said SPD general secretary Lionel Smith. “This is mainly due to two reasons: an increasing membership loss and membership audits.”
Significant membership audits the SPD has undertaken in the past five years mean that figures are more accurate, however tracking the membership is an inexact science.
“The SPD and unions are continually aiming to streamline and make reporting easier. The more we do this the more accurate the figures of membership we have,” Pastor Townend said. “This gives us a more realistic understanding of the impact the Seventh-day Adventist message is having on our fellow humans.”
There are 2063 churches and 3868 companies in the SPD.
There is, on average, one church or company for every 75 members throughout the SPD. However, if the unions are looked at individually, this number drops to 60 in PNG and is more than 100 for the other three unions—Australia being the highest at 113.
“We wish to see every member looking for opportunities to witness and to use their spiritual gifts in making disciples and multiplying disciples. This involves preparing the soil, planting the seed, nurturing the plants, reaping the harvest and then multiplying the harvest by continuing the cycle,” Pastor Smith said.
Click HERE to see the full 2015 SPD Statistical Report.