Global Views on the Sabbath

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Don’t forget the Sabbath,

The Lord our God hath blest,

Of all the week the brightest,

Of all the week the best;

It brings repose from labor,

It tells of joy divine,

Its beams of light descending,

With heav’nly beauty shine.

Welcome, welcome, ever welcome,

Blessed Sabbath day.

- Hymn #388, Adventist Hymns

Have you ever sung the lyrics of the hymn quoted on the right, standing alongside of your fellow church members? It is a powerful experience! The seventh-day Sabbath is one of the key pillars of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is one of the beliefs that sets it apart from other Protestant denominations. 

In 2013, a global study commissioned by the General Conference (known as the 2013 GCMS) asked church members around the world if they believe that the true Sabbath is on the seventh day. A little over 92% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, and 4.67% reported that they agreed more than they disagreed with it. The same 2017-18 version of the survey asked the question (Q42.14) to see if church members’ perspectives on the Sabbath have changed: almost all (96.6%) worldwide respondents agree or strongly agree with this fundamental belief.  Although more people expressed a strong conviction with this belief (92.04% of “strongly agree” responses) in 2013 than they did in the 2017-18 GCMS (83% of “strongly agree” responses) it is encouraging to us that the clear majority of those who call themselves “Seventh-day Adventists” understand the importance of this special day!

The 2017-18 GCMS researchers also wanted to hear about various aspects of Sabbath-keeping that would help church leaders understand how church members experience it. To that end, respondents were asked if keeping the Sabbath faithfully helps them cope better with the stresses of the week: 87% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that it does (Q38.1).  

Another question researchers posed aimed to find out whether sabbath-keepers reported that they feel a personal need to keep the Sabbath or if they feel somehow obliged to do so.

It’s encouraging to note that nine out of ten (87.7%) of survey participants agree or strongly agree that keeping Sabbath is a part of who they are, not something they do because they “have to” (Q38.2). This gives us reason to believe that church members find the Sabbath is useful to them in very tangible ways. Indeed, a clear majority (91. %) of church members worldwide agree or strongly agree that keeping the Sabbath helps them understand what is truly important to them (Q38.4). In addition, 83.3% of survey participants said that they apply what they learn on the Sabbath to how they live the rest of the week.

Evidently, the majority of SDA church members worldwide accept the fundamental belief about the Sabbath and experience the benefits of keeping it on a very practical level. The Sabbath was given to us as a gift from our Creator: a day to spend time in worship, communion, and reflection. It was never meant to be experienced as a constraint. If you find that the Sabbath is not the blessing that it was intended to be in your personal life, it might be time to change how you experience this special day.

To see a report on the Global Church Member Survey 2017-18, check out this link: http://www.adventistresearch.org/sites/default/files/files/AC2018%20-%20Global%20Church%20Member%20Survey%20Data%20Report.pdf