The Future of Adventism in Africa

During the 2020 GC Annual Council, it was reported that two of the largest contributors to Adventist Church growth were divisions in Africa: Southern Africa Indian-Ocean (19.23%) and East-Central Africa (27.49%), whose combined contribution exceeds 46% of global church growth. To add further perspective, the then General Conference Executive Secretary G. T. Ng shared a chart showing the global composition of the Seventh-day Adventist Church based on membership statistics during that time (shown below). Without debating the limitations of the presentation, we celebrate the numerical growth of Adventism in places like Africa. However, we also acknowledge that numbers—be they demographic or financial—are not an indicator of spirituality or faithfulness. In fact, Adventism’s growth in Africa is not homogenous. There are places contending with very little growth, and we also need to factor in high fertility rates as a determinant of church growth on the continent. Just like other regions, the continent is not spared from the high member attrition rates of 4 in every 10 members that are reported by the General Conference. So, what are some of the emerging issues for the future of Adventism in Africa that the church needs to pay attention to? Some of these issues, of course, may apply to Adventism in general.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Liked this informational article that applies worldwide. Meeting needs is the new evangelism. However, where is the Gospel in this and the change of the heart/mind to have a relationship with God? Jesus healed and He also taught. Denominational doctrine is not the place to start but spreading the salvation story with the service where allowed.


I thought mingling with people as one who desires their good, ministering to their needs, empathizing with them, wining their confidence and then extending the invitation to follow Jesus was the way to increase the kingdom.

Separately, I’d appreciate seeing a pie chart that illustrates the geographic financial donations (what divisions contribute what dollar amounts to the church).

Additionally, I’d appreciate an analysis of whether there is a relationship between geographic financial donations, church governance and church policies and reading about illustrations of those relationships, if any.

Lastly, I’d appreciate being informed on how members of the Diaspora could get involved with the happenings on Alkebulan (“mother of man kind” or “garden of Eden”). There should be an ongoing never ceasing dissemination of information about opportunities for involvement.

Very interesting article .It would be interesting to see an analysis of the other regions around the world- with respect to the issues they face and the way forward.


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The author’s salient points about what is happening in Africa and the contemporary problems that need to be addressed are also apropos to North American Adventism. We still struggle to answer questions that are no longer being asked. Revelation Seminars, weeks long “Revival” meetings with all their hideous visual imagery, and pushing somehow the idea, that because we are not “evangelizing” the world as we should be, we are holding up the coming of Jesus. The corporate guilt associated with this is not to be underestimated and the ramifications to local congregations are extremely dangerous to developing spirituality. Adventism’s self righteousness may well destroy any possibility of impacting our respective communities in a positive way. (see this weeks Sabbath School lesson) With this kind of atmosphere, I would dare not invite any of my friends or non-SDA family members to attend sabbath school, or church services generally. How can one address another’s real needs without first determining what those needs are and judging them on their failings(in our self-righteous opinion). I fear that we fail in our current approach to evangelism.One thing’s for sure–the “work” will be finished, and Jesus will come, with our without our participation in the proper spreading of the Gospel. And then, where will we be?


Wow, Mr. Ncube, a bucket-load of ideas about what the SDA church in Africa “should” be doing! While I can agree with this analysis, what does the SDA church in African countries WANT to do? Any of it? All of it?

I was a student missionary in the '70s from PUC, when a group of us were requested to go to the UK and help out with some upcoming evangelistic “efforts” there. My friend and I were assigned to go door-to-door doing a survey about what subjects the locals might be interested in hearing at the meetings. The top items were: family, parenting, better health. After a couple of weeks of this, we presented our findings to the church in charge. “Very nice” they said, and continued with their program of bringing in a foreign evangelist to head up the “Dead Men Do Tell Tales” series, complete with lurid beasts and archaeology. We were totally demoralized! The church hasn’t changed at all; still telling people what church thinks they need to hear, rather than what the community needs to hear. Sad…


Well written article thank you! And relevant to the church far beyond Africa. Do we need another building open one day a week? Or is a different relationship with the community preferable.
Thank you!

I affirm your thoughts about the importance of applying the ideas the author suggests for Africa to any other place in the world where there are Adventists. I, too, have to address the “cringe factor” in bringing my friends to Sabbath school discussions that currently follow the GC quarterly approach.

I resonate with this analysis. Like it or not, our top-down governance structure is such that if reform would come it should start from the top–the GC, in other words.

Regarding the 2022 GC Session, the most significant conversation, as far as I’m concerned, was the report and recommendation of the Secretariat regarding our Mission Focus or refocusing. Here:

Way back half-a-century ago, G. Oosterwal observed that we have become an intra-church/denominational mission sending organization. Inter-division service employees (ISE’s) from the GC take up mostly institutional and administrative posts abroad.

Briefly, in my view, for change to take place we need equipped and equipping type of frontline crosscultural missionaries sent by the GC from what used to be known as home bases: creative and innovative pastor-evangelists and church planters (rather than tourist evangelists :smiling_face_with_tear: from North America, Europe and Australia.

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This would be a interesting piece of conversation: finance!

The GC Secretariat and Treasury agree on one thing: a refocusing of resources.

Globally, the tithe-use distribution is as follows:

As far as our three African divisions are concerned, the percentage of tithe used for administration is a matter of conjecture. Who knows?

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i was last in s. africa about 10yrs ago, but i only stayed for a week…it may be time to go again, but this time stay for awhile…i find it quite fascinating that the problems of the church in Africa are essentially the same problems elsewhere…african society, especially s. african society, has obviously changed quite a bit from when i was growing up there as a kid…the world described in this article isn’t at all how i recall things…

Historically,the African unions were part of the Trans-Africa Division [edit: and three other divisions] with headquarters in Europe. With the change to home grown national leaders based on the continent, could this not possibly explain some of changes that have occurred, such as those this article describes, when relating to directives that are handed down from the GC headquarter in D.C./Maryland, U.S.A.?

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it likely could…but as a kid, i was really more into the type of religion that was flourishing then…God, religion, and the Church were everything - these were the most important things in peoples’ lives…every conversation had to do with overcoming and the 2nd Coming, separation from the world, or witnessing door to door, and talking directly to friends, family and neighbours…

the Athlone church, where we attended often, was really a second family…this was the church my mother grew up in - her dad, and all her brothers, were elders (yes, society was completely male dominated, but women knew how to get their way, trust me)…the Malmesbury church was another church we attended often, and here church and the concept of being saved for heaven were truly everything…it wasn’t unusual for people to spend two or three month’s salary, or more, just on a Sabbath outfit to wear each week, which they totally wouldn’t wear anywhere else…sundown to sundown were strictly observed, and everybody did morning family worships, with an evening family worship on Fridays, for good measure…memorizing sizeable chunks of the bible - only the KJV - was quite common, at least the 10 commandments, the Beatitudes, many of the Psalms, etc…people cried when they prayed, or praised God publicly…

i can’t imagine a 40% attrition rate, or issues with widows, singles, youth (no-one divorced then), or any kind of scenario where diligent work for the poor, who were all around us, wasn’t happening…mom was a big cook, and frequently the kitchen in our house in Piketberg was full of strangers eating soup, bread and fruit…us kids had to look after our clothes so we could give them away when we outgrew them…dad was always giving rides to people to see the dr., or taking people shopping for food, and other necessities…

the whole atmosphere was different from what i’m seeing in this article, which sounds really very much like NAD adventism…i think it must be a function of the times, more than anything…

What your parents did was more important than any church doctrine. More important than the Sabbath truth, the acceptance of EGW, and the acceptance or nonacceptance of a literal reading of Genesis !. According to the Matthew 25 account what separated the saved from the unsaved was “for I was hungry…” and thirsty and naked and a stranger and sick and in prison…


mom’s answer to this question was always, “these we do in a way that doesn’t leave the other undone”…this paraphrase of Matt 23:23 was her way of saying that charity, and being relevant to the needs of those around us, cannot be used to destroy the importance of what we believe…this was kind of a controversy with some of the Sunday churches in the Cape Town area at the time…their point was that it wasn’t necessary to fuss over things like the seventh-day sabbath as long you were helping the poor…

mom’s parents were strict Wesleyans before they converted to adventism, and at that time, charity was a central tenet with Wesleyans, equivalent to their belief in the Trinity…mom’s mom was big on 1John…her view was that walking the walk meant actual sacrifice in order to be in a position to help others…i think all of this is why 1John has been the first book of the bible i’ve memorized…

but i think essentially all the christian churches in s. africa in the '60’s were big on helping the poor…and not surprisingly, all churches were held in good regard at that time…if this part of the world is now even a shadow of what it once was, i think it would be a great place to retire…society is just better off when christianity in action is valued, and part of the general sensibility…

Thank you very much - very very much ! for your insight and depicting it for us, dear Brother Ncube !

I may assure you of our compassion here in my little church !

You see, just people like me and the fellows of outr faith right around me lived saturated through the last decades - the “world” in our ( ! ) experience getting the better day for day for year for year. And then CORONA and Ucraine brought the big brake. But we - our environment - do as if it would be going along since before - -

Yet just for instance : Single women, single mothers, divorced mothers, left alone mothers wkth their toddlers or teenagers are also our problem here - quite unlikely for the times long ago - - their problems and our ( ? ) solutions (? ) here differ, just the facts are the same. - - - - I can assure you : Our prayers here are about our problems - but also for the problems of the ones of the household of our faith in your environemnt (this is the KJV - Version !) (I love this one ! ) (I live with Luther 1918 ! )

  • with you !

@vandieman jeremy, exactly the same I could say about the curch I was a child . It was wartime (with carpet bombing), it was postwar time in the Russian Zone - - the SDA here on Sabbath assembled in grandmothers 18 x 18 feet kitchen - just where the same women had met during the week , then as volonteers making slippers out of corn leaves - them firts havin soaked in a giant kettle - for soldiers with insuries and after surgical carei and their reha. - - - and our festive gowns just and only for Sabbath service there ! - - - - once upona time and before “H & M” - - -

For my environment today I jsut do not have the right patterns - - and I have severe doubts about the good advices - or should I say : “directives” - coming from the GC - -

This unsubstantiated, faith-based assertion can be refuted as easily as googling the phrase “Christianity’s negative effects on society”.

The case can be made that America is in decline due, in part, to the fact that some are trying to get back to “the faith of our founding fathers” when many of the people who started the country knew, first hand, the perils of using any religion-and particularly Christianity-as a basis for governance, or a path to societal comity.


in many ways i think it was definitely easier to be spiritual, and in fact adventist, during simpler times…we are now in a time where we’re passing over what egw calls “enchanted ground” - a time of prosperity and ease, where nothing in our world seems particularly wrong or evil, except for egregious crime, of course…everything is now arrayed against spirituality, even from our churches and the GC…

i’m here in my Vancouver hotel, overlooking the ocean, and rereading Great Controversy for the umpteenth time (i started it at the airport Saturday)…i’m now at the time when Luther was in hiding, and false prophets, governed by false visions, came out in droves to denounce Luther’s mantra of the bible, and the bible only, as just a substitute papal creed…they were running with Paul’s “for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” - how perverse…the ensuing social chaos was charged on Luther’s challenge to the papal order, and it was difficult for Luther to distance himself from these false prophets, who were also challenging the papacy…i’m struck by how every time in history has a particular challenge in understanding righteousness by faith, and in fact the gospel…it’s always some iteration of either persecution, or a counterfeit delusion, or an easy life in this world that seems to add to that difficulty…

tomorrow, i’ll be in my hotel in San Diego, overlooking the ocean again, and hopefully reading all the way to the end of Great Controversy (the final chapters are always gripping)…and yes, overlooking the ocean is always my most inspired retreat…it always recalls one of my favourite egw texts:

“In the contemplation of Christ we linger on the shore of a love that is measureless." AA:333.

in the end, i think we just have to persevere, and overcome, like Luther, Zwingli, Huss, Jerome, Wycliffe, the Waldensees, the Vaudois and all the apostles did…we have to look at our Church and GC as just one more obstacle we get to overcome…there’s no other way…and we can overcome, just like everyone else who has overcome, has :slightly_smiling_face:…

@vandieman jeremy, OK, together with you I go to Musikverein, Vienna, and enjoy Wiener Philhamoniker playing Vienna Classics - my form of experiencing times long ago - the XIXth century - - - together with some clocks on my livingrooms walls out of that time - but I am “out of stock” , were I a book to be read.

Those I meet inmy church every Sabbath are the postmoderns. The problems with them already were mentioned in “Spectrum” by an SDA US minister recently- - They for instance will and cannot learn Psalms and chapters and chapters of the Bible by heart, since their “modern” education avoids this - it also avoid dealing with the written language and with understanding the contents of the whole text… And even weatlhy SDAs cannot maintain keeping up “family values” ecxcept they are living in the SDA bubble (SDA school, SDA publisher, SDA union conference administration - - ) Even fourth generation SDAs ask quite uneasy questions in Sabbathschool, but mostly the third, fourth or even fifth gerention of SDA here just does not pass the torch on - - even iff they were in the toddler SS group and in church school and on MV camps ( - as long as they estimate them - - )

  • What kind of solutions can you offer to Ncubes problems, what kind of solution can you give me ?