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News from the PACIFIC UNION RECORDER
CENTRAL CALIFORNIA RE-ELECTS OFFICERS. First the facts. Between 2003 and 2007 this conference raised over $5,000,000 in annual offerings. This allowed the conference to hold 222 “full-scale public evangelistic meetings, [to support] 52 Bible workers, 105 New Work projects, 30 church plants, two full-time evangelistic teams and 13 new evangelistic initiatives”. The conference sponsored a “student literature evangelism program which trains youth for leadership, Bible work and outreach. . . During the last three years, 242 students visited 840,000 homes, distributed 317,000 Bible study interest cards, placed 153,000 books in people’s homes and personally visited 1,648 people for Bible studies. The students distributed $1.2 million worth of literature. . .Tithe has increased steadily for over 10 years, reaching over $25 million in 2006. Conference reserves stand at 112 percent of the amount recommended by the GC.”
Now for the payoff. “5,753 members were added to the CCC in the last three years through baptism, profession of faith and transfers. Membership at the end of 2006 stood at 32,701, up from 31,054 in 2003. In other words, membership increased by 1,647. If we assume that 5% of the membership died during this period, then actual membership was 1,729. Assuming that membership dropped by 10% because members “left the church”, membership gain due to evangelism is now 1000. (I will assume that transfers in and out of the conference balance out.) No figures are available for the number of children attending SDA schools in the conference that would have been baptized regardless of the public evangelistic efforts enumerated. However, let’s assume that that number is 100.
That leaves us with 900 members added by public evangelism during the years between 2003 and 2006. Considering the money and time spent, the Adventist Church’s traditional evangelistic efforts are virtually pointless and a huge waste of money and time in terms of membership gain. The question then becomes, “Why?” That question needs to be addressed by North American, union, conference and local leadership, ASAP!
Andrew Hanson is a professor of education at California State University, Chico, and blogs at Adventist Perspective.