Regardless of your age, one’s perception plays a significant role in shaping your sentiments, valuing, and behavior. Young adults [those post high-school through pre-parenthood] have many opinions, and when asked, “What is your perception of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?” there was no lack of responsiveness. In a recent study of Adventist Millennials, we took a look at Adventist young adults and compared them to over 27,000 of their peers as studied by the Barna Group.
Here’s what the research revealed, as summarized in Ministry Magazine:
In his book You Lost Me, Barna Group’s president and owner, David Kinnaman, details six perceptual grievances that Millennials tend to harbor against “the church” as a cultural institution. These grievances hold that the church is: intolerant of doubt, elitist in its relationships, anti-science in its beliefs, overprotective of its members, shallow in its teachings, and repressive of differences.
Based on this survey of Adventist Millennials, these grievances hold true to an even greater extent when it comes to the Adventist young adult perceptions of the Seventh-day Adventist church. The percentages of respondents who say their experiences fit these descriptions are higher than the national norms—for all six perceptions. For example, while one in four (25%) of U.S. Millennials (with a Christian background) say that Christianity in America is repressive of differences, almost four in ten (37%) of Adventist Millennials say this is true of Adventist churches. And while just over one in five (22%) of U.S. Millennials with a Christian background say that Christianity in America is like an exclusive club, more than one in three (34%) of Adventist Millennials say that Adventist churches are exclusive. Almost twice as many Adventist Millennials say that Adventist churches are anti-science (47%) compared to U.S. Millennials with a Christian background (25%). Adventists also score much higher among Millennials when it comes to being overprotective (36% vs. 23%) or intolerant of doubt (28% vs. 10%).
Keep in mind, these respondents were recruited from young adults who still have some connection to the Adventist Church; indeed, some are still very active in their local congregations.
The following media interview with Dr. Jenkin summarizes well the findings regarding young adult perceptions of their local Adventist church. Clint Jenkin, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research for Barna Group, and served as the lead researcher for the Adventist Millennial Research study.
Young Adult Life is the official young adult ministry movement of the North American Division of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Together we are a full-throttle force across North American Division sharing the hope of Jesus with the largest young adult generation in the history of the world. YoungAdultLife.com
For more commentary and suggested solutions, check out Best Practices for Adventist Ministry.