A major drive to engage every church member in Total Member Involvement has helped propel the Seventh-day Adventist Church past 20 million members for the first time in its history.
The Adventist Church had 20,008,779 members as of Dec. 31, 2016, a net increase of 882,332 people, or 4.6 percent, from the previous year, the church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research said.
In another milestone, a record 1.2 million people were baptized last year, including an unprecedented 110,000 in Rwanda, while new churches continued to be planted at a rapid rate.
“What these statistics tell me about the church’s efforts to fulfill its mission is that church leaders and, increasingly, church members are putting considerable resources into reaching new souls for God’s kingdom,” said David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. “Total Member Involvement has a huge role to play here, and the record baptisms in 2016 already reflect TMI.”
Total Member Involvement (TMI), implemented in its first full year in 2016, is a world church initiative that encourages every church member to actively share the gospel in his or her community. Outreach efforts include literature distribution, Bible studies, cooking classes, health seminars, free clinics, and public evangelistic meetings.
Reacting to the new membership figures, Seventh-day Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson emphasized the connection between church growth and the involvement of every church member, especially lay people.
“The engagement of lay people in Total Member Involvement is so important to what we are seeing happen in the world church,” Wilson said.
“The Holy Spirit is leading our church members to be so actively involved in every aspect of personal and public witness,” he said by e-mail. “Let us never forget the counsel given to us in ‘Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9,’ page 117: ‘The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.’”
Duane McKey, TMI coordinator for the world church, said the membership growth is “clearly an indication that TMI is blessed by God.”
“When the whole church is mobilized like in Rwanda, when every member is doing something, God is there and God will bless,” McKey said. “This truly is an illustration as to how the work can be finished!” Adventist News