For many years, the SDA Church has loved to tout that they are the fastest growing church in the world. This is typically said in tandem with the claim that they have 21+ million members in over 235 countries around the world which is supposed to support their claim to being God’s last day remnant church made up of every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Revelation 7:9). They will then ask “what other church can say that?” in which they conflate the universal Body of Christ (which is not confined to a single denomination) with a single denomination.
However, what you more than likely won’t hear them say is the fuller picture. In the 2022 Annual Council report, David Trim, the director of the Adventist Church’s Archives, Statistics and Research department (ASTR), shared this:
Starting in 1965 we have annual statistics on losses and accessions as well as total membership. What is the situation across the whole of the last 57 years? In that time, exactly 42,294,215 people have been members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In that time, at least 17.6 million have left. Our net loss rate is 42%. Four of every ten church members slip away.David Trim, 2022 Seventh-Day Adventist Annual Council Report
He went on to also claim that “of that 17.6 million, they know from research conducted by ASTR that most did not leave because of theological differences. Instead, they went through a crisis in life. And/or they experienced conflict in their local church community. They stopped attending church, not intending that to be permanent. But they felt unmissed, uncared-for, unimportant in the eyes of their pastors and fellow members, and so they did not return. Most did not take a conscious decision to cease being a Seventh-day Adventist. It just happened. Most of those 4 out of 10 members slipped through the cracks.”
Most recently they have sought to blame the COVID-19 pandemic for such a drastic downturn.
It has long been a defense of the SDA Church to extinguish the idea that anyone leaves their movement over theological reasons. The narrative, for decades, has always been that people were hurt by someone in the movement, didn’t feel cared for, or some form of emotional reasons. This is because, in the Adventist mind, the theology of Adventism is the anvil that can wear out any hammer. It can’t possibly be that someone left over erroneous theology.
Which is why so many former Adventists are slandered, lied about, and defamed for daring to claim that they left over the SDA Church’s heretical theology.
In our experience dialoguing with thousands of former Adventists, very few left because of emotional reasons. They were challenged to defend the theology, began studying it more in-depth, and were led by the Holy Spirit out of the deception of Seventh-Day Adventism. It was in their fidelity to the true Christ and His Gospel that they had to make the hard decision to leave their friends, family and comfort and go wherever the True led them despite the costs.
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church is not the fastest growing church in the world. While they love to claim this, just like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, it isn’t being completely forthright with all of the data which clearly indicates that the SDA Church is losing almost half as many people every year as they baptize into the movement anew.