Why are Seventh-Day Adventists leaving the church?

Why are Seventh-Day Adventists leaving the church? 

The question of Members leaving the church is an aged old question that has plagued the church for decades. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists conducted two surveys in 2012 to discover the factors that were involved and to determine retention strategies. 

The first survey was directed at persons who were members but no longer attended church, while the second was administered to members who would have left the church for some time, but began attending again, or returned to active church membership. This research was conducted under the General Conference Nurture and Retention committee. 

The survey first survey was received from 415 former members from around the world, who would have left the church, while the second survey was received from 370 members who would have previously stopped attending the church but would have returned to the church. 

Both surveys provided insights into background, behaviour, and thoughts of 785 members around the world who left the church at one point in their life, giving evidence as to why this occurs. 

The question of what caused members to leave yielded some fascinating results, which I will now note. The number one reason, according to the survey, why members leave the church is “Perceived hypocrisy in other church members”. 

The other 17 reasons given went as follows: 

  • Marital difficulties/ Divorce
  • Lack of friends in the church
  •  High levels of conflict in the local church, 
  • Family conflicts, personal conflict with local church members,
  • Prolonged doubts about Adventist doctrines, 
  • Migration to a new city/church,
  •  Dislike of worship styles, 
  • Disagreement on decisions taken by higher leaders, 
  • Personal conflict with the pastor, 
  • Prolonged doubts about the truth of Christianity, 
  • Dislike of preaching (sermons), 
  • Prolonged doubts about the existence of God, 
  •  A local pastor was moved to another congregation, 
  • Death of parent(s) and/or the death of another family member(s). 


It is fascinating to note from this survey, that the main reason for leaving the church has nothing to do with the church’s doctrinal standpoint, which suggests to me that persons who are leaving are not going because they have a problem with the doctrines taught by the church. 

The survey has revealed that as a church, problems exist in relationships between members and how they treat each other. 

If members view the church as a place where hypocrisy exists; where there are constant issues between members, then it suggests that much needs to happen to educate and assist members in building better relationships amongst each other. 

The survey also reveals that there is a perceived judgmental attitude among the membership. The church is also perceived as being hypocritical. The survey indicates that members need to learn how to manage conflict amongst each other. If members learn how to handle these conflicts in a redemptive manner, as opposed to the punitive method, our retention rate would be much higher. 


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