Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Missiology


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Mission and Ministry PhD

First Advisor

Lester Merklin

Second Advisor

Arceli Rosario

Third Advisor

Petr Činčala



Secularization shapes people's thinking, feeling, and behaving in the cities. Yearly, there is a rise in the number of de-religionized or secularized people in cities of the world who engage in pursuits of materialism and show declining interest in religion. Sociologists and missiologists postulate about the spectrum of secularity and the variety of secularism in different context. Since Metro Manila is one of the world's top highly urbanized and densely populated cities, the Seventh-day Adventist Church encounters challenges in reaching its secularized people. It is a new turf for the church. Pastors trained for rural settings may not understand what attracts and retains the secularized people to the church. Many do not know that the secularized is an emerging people group and that they have some special needs that the traditional Adventist Church does not address. Hence, there is a need for a biblically sound and yet culturally sensitive approach to the secularized people. --


This case study looked into the phenomena of evangelizing secularized persons in Metro Manila. It aimed to determine the characteristics of the secularized Manileños and what attracted them to God and the church. In addition, the study also answered the questions of what retains in them in church and what make them leave the church—in an attempt to put together a contextualized strategy for the secularized people. Personal interviews and focus group discussions were conducted among 30 participants comprising of non-Adventists who are secularized (12), secularized Adventists (10), and urban ministry practitioners (8). Document analysis and observation (church visit and online worship) followed the interviews. Coded data analysis provided categories for themes that answered the research questions. The interviews, FGI, document analysis, and observation were triangulated to ensure the reliability and credibility of the research findings.


The secularized Manileños are found to be at the beginning of the spectrum of the secularization process. They are between the U1-U3 stages in Reiner’s Scale on Receptivity to the Gospel. They also identify with twenty-four characteristics of secularized individuals. Several analysis cycles resulted in nine recurring themes that emerged from the data. These themes are four life encounters with Grace, six relational factors, seven good experiences in the Adventist church, three unique features that are specific to Adventists, three church-related factors impacting retention among secularized individuals, four personal factors influencing their decision-making process when it comes to joining or leaving religious institutions. The study also revealed five barriers hindering efforts to reach out and engage secular audiences, as well as five best qualities of the ministry workers and five approaches for successful ministry toward this group.


Analyzing these findings and insights resulted in twelve proposed strategies that Adventist organizations and conferences can use as examples in developing effective ministry programs targeting secularized people in Metro Manila. These strategies can also be applied to other cities with diverse population segments, including those currently disconnected from organized religion like the secularized people.

Subject Area

Missions--Philippines--Manila; City missions--Philippines--Manila; Seventh-day Adventists--Missions; Philippines--Religion; Secularism--Philippines


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