Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
In the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Australia (known as the Australian Union Conference) there is a significant loss of membership continuance by youth and young adults that falls into the category of the so-called millennials. Church attendance and membership loss of millennials is a problem in the Australian Union Conference.
After consulting Scripture and current literature on families and family values, this researcher developed a quantitative and qualitative survey for Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Australian Millennials. It used a professional survey program that guaranteed the anonymity of each person. Embedded within the 18-question survey was space for personal responses. It was widely advertised using all the communication pathways available to the Youth Departments of the Union Conference and the nine Local Conferences. There were 424 survey responses, with some 30,000 words of personal understanding and attitudes. The data collected from Adventist millennials in Australia completed the strategy to implement change within the Seventh-day Adventist Church of the Australian Union Conference. After the discovery of the six essential strategies outlined in the book "Growing Young" there was a process where these strategies were adapted to fit the Australian Adventist church and rolled out into five of the nine conferences with more than 90 churches participating. This adaption was called "Growing Together."
This research drew attention to personal, demographic, social, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of the youth and young adults. The number and quality of responses provided valuable input for the youth department. In particular, the youth and young adults were very positive about the fact that they were being listened to. They wanted to be accepted for who they are, and they also wanted to participate actively within the functioning of the church. They desired much more than that of being passive observers. The data collected from the survey aligned with every one of the six essential strategies outlined in Growing Young. This included: keychain leadership, fueling a warm community, prioritizing young people everywhere, taking Jesus’ message seriously, empathizing with today's young people, and being the best neighbor. "Growing Together," as noted above, was ready in late 2019 to be rolled out to all nine Australian conferences the next year. The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 and beyond transformed the strategy into a smaller version and instead rolled out to five of the nine conferences with more than 90 churches participating from the year 2020. COVID-19 had many negative impacts on the church with continuous lockdowns and the inability for churches to meet. As restrictions lifted churches came back together and many are now continuing with the implementation of the "Growing Together" strategies. It is exciting to see church culture moving in a positive direction with many good news stories coming to light from stronger mentor/mentee relationships, greater intergenerational connections, and much stronger family networks being developed. It must be acknowledged that the rolling out of these six essential strategies is moving towards a positive change of church culture within the Australian church. It must also be noted that the implementation of these strategies are a "slow cooker" approach. While changes made from 2020 onwards are making inroads, and the preliminary changes will be reported in later chapters, the real test of this change will be five to seven years into the future which is outside the scope of this study.
This process of working through the issues and gaining the information has provided the youth and young adults themselves, along with the Union Conference and the Local Conferences, a much clearer picture of what is happening in the Australian Union Conference. The data collected has helped to clarify where constructive change is needed, and what issues have been negative in outcome. With the rollout of "Growing Together" well underway, the Australian Adventist church is already seeing positive changes in church culture and the way that church is done. The intentional emphasis on mentor/mentee relationships, stronger intergenerational relationships and stronger families is having a positive impact on the Australian Adventist church. Change happens slowly and the goal of the implementation of these strategies is to see a stronger engagement of church life with millennials and the following generations.
Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists; Seventh-day Adventists--Australia; Church membership--Australia; General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church. South Pacific Division. Australian Union Conference; Australian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Parker, Jeffrey N., "Ministry Strategy for Retaining Youth and Young Adults in the Australian Union Conference" (2023). Professional Dissertations DMin. 799.
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