Rest on the Sabbath. Heed Old Testament dietary codes. And be ready for Jesus to return at any moment.
If these practices sound quaint or antiquated, think again. They’re hallmarks of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the fastest-growing Christian denomination in North America.
Newly released data show Seventh-day Adventism growing by 2.5 percent in North America, a rapid clip for this part of the world, where Southern Baptists and mainline denominations, as well as other church groups are declining. Adventists are even growing 75 percent faster than Mormons (1.4 percent), who prioritize numeric growth.
For observers outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the growth rate in North America is perplexing.
“You’ve got a denomination that is basically going back to basics ... saying, `What did God mean by all these rules and regulations and how can we fit in to be what God wants us to be?’,” said Daniel Shaw, an expert on Christian missionary outreach at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. “That’s just totally contrary to anything that’s happening in American culture. So I’m saying, `Whoa! That’s very interesting.’ And I can’t answer it.”
Seventh-day Adventists are asking a different question: Why isn’t the church growing much faster on these shores, which is home to just 1.1 million of the world’s 16 million Adventists? Despite its North American roots, the church is growing more than twice as fast overseas.
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