The Leaders in My Church Care About Me

Three African Divisions’ Views of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Leadership

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Love is one of the things that separate Christians from the rest of the world – or at least, it should be!  This message is reiterated again and again throughout the Bible.  First John 3:17 says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”  Also, we see a similar message in Philippians 2:4, which reads, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

There’s no doubt about it: loving and caring for others is at the center of the Christian walk.

Recently (2013), a global study was conducted of the nine divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A team of researchers at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, headed by Professor Elizabeth Role, surveyed church members in the three African divisions: East-Central Africa Division, West-Central Africa Division, and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division. This study was designed to assess the experiences and attitudes of church members regarding different aspects of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and church life.

Church members were asked to respond to a variety of statements regarding church life including church attendance, small group attendance, programming, community involvement, and their relationships with their pastor, as well as other church leaders.

Interestingly, across all three divisions, church members reported a high level of connection with their pastors:

  • East-Central Africa Division – Nearly two-thirds (63.8%) of respondents indicated that they feel their pastor “often” or “almost always” knows them well.
  • West-Central Africa Division – Over three-fourths (76.5%) of respondents indicated that they feel their pastor “often” or “almost always” knows them well.
  • Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division – Well over half (57.7%) of respondents indicated that they feel their pastor “often” or “almost always” knows them well.

           

Another piece of good news is that church members reported an even stronger connection with their Sabbath School teachers/leaders:

  • East-Central Africa Division – Almost three-fourths (72.3%) of respondents indicated that they feel their Sabbath School teachers/leaders “often” or “almost always” know them well.
  • West-Central Africa Division – Four out of five (80.3%) respondents indicated that they feel their Sabbath School teachers/leaders “often” or “almost always” know them well.
  • Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division – Almost three quarters (70.2%) of respondents indicated that they feel their Sabbath School teachers/leaders “often” or “almost always” know them well.

            

How encouraging that it is not just pastors, but fellow church members who connect with others on a personal, meaningful level!  The importance of involved leadership – leaders to engage with their congregation, investing a personal interest in their members – is something to celebrate. This type of connection leads to many members’ overall satisfaction and commitment to the Church. 

Beyond simply being known by their pastors and Sabbath School leaders, church members offered some encouraging perspectives on these leaders. When asked about their views regarding the warmth of church leaders, and their leaders’ care for members individually, church members shared more good news. The majority of survey respondents experienced a great deal of warmth and friendliness from their leaders.

  • East-Central Africa Division – Over half (59.8%) of respondents reported that their church leaders are “often” or “almost always” warm and friendly.  Similarly, 57.9% of respondents feel that their church leaders “often” or “almost always” care about them, personally.
  • West-Central Africa Division – Over two-thirds (65.5%) of respondents reported that their church leaders are “often” or “almost always” warm and friendly.  Closely linked, 60.9% of respondents indicated that they feel that their church leaders “often” or “almost always” care about them, personally.
  • Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division – Almost two-thirds (63.9%) of respondents reported that their church leaders are “often” or “almost always” warm and friendly.  Likewise, 57.3% of respondents indicated that they feel that their church leaders “often” or “almost always” care about them, personally.

We see across the African continent the value of personal relationships.  Members around the world want more than merely showing up week after week being preached at, walking out the doors without a true personal connection.  They desire and value a connection with those who are teaching them and leading them to know Jesus closer. These personal connections help to explain why the church is growing very fast in many parts of Africa.

Ultimately, those who walk close to Jesus – those who are truly engaged with Him daily – cannot help but share His love and kindness to others.  These actions are merely a reflection of their relationship with Him – the tie that binds.

To learn more, check out the full report for each division at:
West-Central Africa Division Report
East-Central Africa Division Report
Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division Report