Growth is still possible

Growth is still possible

Barna Magyarosi, EUD Executive Secretary, Mario Brito, EUD President, Norbert Zens, EUD Treasurer

Annual statistical report of the Executive Secretary

November 26, 2019

Bern, Switzerland. [CD-EUDNews. C.Cozzi]. During the Executive Committee Meeting of the Inter-European Region (EUD) of Seventh-day Adventists, held in Lyon, France, from October 30 - November 4, Barna Magyarosi, Executive Secretary, presented figures and statistics that captured a snapshot of the Church in the countries of the EUD (Portugal, Spain, Andorra, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, San Marino, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria) offering at the same time development trends of the last 10-15 years.

The report was presented in comparison and sometimes contrast with those of the world church. While the membership of the worldwide church reached 21.3 million Adventists, with an accession of about 1.4 million new members in the last year, the world church is also recording losses of up to 40%.  In Europe, and especially in the EUD countries, the situation is similar with a loss rate of 39.85%.

In the course of this last year, we have reached the figure of 178,829 members. An increase of about 30 members as compared to the previous year. The data refer to the second quarter of 2019, but the trend is clear: the Church in Europe is stagnating and, in some cases, it is even decreasing.

This figure reflects the trend of baptisms, which went from 4676 in 2004 and 4832 in 2009, to 3711 in 2017 and 3002 in 2018. Why is there such a significant reduction in baptisms? Is this a slowdown in the fulfilment of the mission that Jesus entrusted to us? Yet the list of projects of direct evangelization is quite consistent considering that there are more than 100 projects active throughout the EUD territory.
The end up result is also burdened by losses, even though, in some cases, these have decreased. From 1874 in 2004 and 1617 in 2009, we increased to 1211 in 2017 and 1246 in 2018.

Of course, statistics are not read in a superficial way, generating comments that are sometimes inappropriate. But one thing is certain: the Church in Europe is struggling to grow.

The almost 40% loss of the yearly gains must be the subject of reflection. It is a statistical information that deserves attention. There might be some who left for no particular  reasons. But a phenomenon of this magnitude must open the door to a clear and consistent assessment of our being a church (community).

Among the various reasons for drop-off, there are those related to a mismanagement of interpersonal relationships. The majority of those who left the Church did not abandon because of doctrinal problems, or because of a weakening of their faith, but because of conflicts with other church members or leaders that were not handled properly.

For the time being, the statistics reported reveal a concerning trend, revealing that the disappointment of almost half of the members is stronger than the initial enthusiasm. Nonetheless, we are certain that by accepting divine counsel that is clearly oriented toward respect for interpersonal relationships and by making room for love that only the Holy Spirit ca give, we will be able to restore vigour to a church that has made the mission of sharing the love of Christ its main reason to be.  

The presentation of this report was followed by some pertinent comments that appropriately drew attention to consistency in following up on our strategical focus areas.
Each member of the Church, from an administrative and pastoral point of view, is called upon to concentrate on possible resources to bring about a change of direction.

In report, President Mario Brito also reminded readers not to be discouraged, but to consider these figures as a challenge and an appeal for deep analysis and commitment of all of us.
“Together as a united team and in cooperation with God, we will be certainly able to overcome the challenge with which we are confronted and invert the trend of stagnation into a steady and consistent growth” President Brito concluded.  

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