The Institute of Church Ministry (ICM) is devoted to helping you excel in your ministry. We offer a variety of services that prove to be beneficial on several levels depending on your current ministry and what you would like to achieve. We understand that the world is changing quickly around us and sometimes it can be difficult to stay up to date on the current demographic trends and how they relate to church growth and particpation. At ICM, we help bridge those gaps, among other things, and help bring you the knowledge necessary to guide your ministry in todays society.

If you have any questions on how we can help you through our research, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Research on Church Issues

The world is changing quickly around us and sometimes it can be difficult to stay up to date on the current demographic trends and how they relate to church growth and participation.

This is our main emphasis. A denominational organization desires certain information and contacts ICM to conduct research. We first dialog together to determine what research design will best meet the clients need. This involves first deciding on what information is needed and from what source it is to be collected. ICM will then suggest questions that would obtain the desired information. A research design would specify the population to be surveyed, the sample size, the best method of surveying (mail, phone, or internet), and the number of follow-up procedures. Together with the client we decide on the type of analyses and the nature of the research report. We will not proceed until the client is satisfied with each point.

As to cost, we charge by the numbers of hours invested. In addition, there are expenses for printing, postage, stationery and envelopes, and other miscellaneous supplies.

Materials Development

The Institute of Church Ministry (ICM) can prepare documents as requested including books. See our section on past accomplishments. This also includes editing documents.


Institute of Church Ministry (ICM) personnel are available to consult on topics where we have expertise, either by traveling to the client’s site or by phone conferences.

Student Development

Much of the work at ICM is done by students under the supervision of the director. The Institute of Church Ministry is fortunate to employ the expertise of seminary students as they are working on their masters and doctoral degrees. This work provides valuable experience for these students in the mission of the church. At ICM mission has top emphasis. Over the past thirty years many of our students have gone on to be successful pastors, Religion professors and administrators.




While having completed several major studies within the Adventist Church, the Institute of Church MInistry is also involved in several on going projects which have an affect on various aspects of church life.

Feel free to view the projects that we have completed as well as those we are currently involved with. If there are areas in which we can enrich your personal ministry, please contact us.

On-going Projects

Cooperative Congregational Study Partnership (CCSP). In an unprecedented project, over 30 denominations in the United States have joined forces to construct a common questionnaire and survey congregations with the purposes of discovering how to strengthen congregational life and to make congregations a force in American society. The project is headed by the Hartford Seminary Institute for Religion Research and financed by a major grant from the Lilly Foundation and contributions from contributing denominations. The original research was conducted in 2000, with smaller studies in 2005 and 2008. A major research project is being conducted in 2010 to assess the changes over ten years. ICM has collected the data for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America each wave, mailing surveys to 1000 Adventist congregations in 2010. While the Adventist data will be merged with that of the other partners to create a national data file, it will also be reported on separately for comparison with the overall data. The challenge is to produce materials that will aid congregations in strengthening their body life and their outreach. Both print and internet materials will be produced. The dissemination phase of this project is released under the label Faith Communities Today (FACT).

U.S. Study of Congregational Life. The NAD in cooperation with the Presbyterian Church in the USA and several other denominations have joined in a study of individual congregants. While the CCSP surveyed a key informant for each congregation, the USSCL surveys individual members. This study has been funded by grants from the Lilly Foundation and the NAD. Nearly a hundred Adventist congregations participated in 2001. A second wave was conducted in 2008. Each participating congregation receives a profile of the local membership. ICM has the total Adventist data set and is able to compare its findings with the aggregate data.

Evaluation of General Conference Strategic Plans. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted a world wide strategic plan at its Annual Executive Meeting. The plan covered Expected Results, Forecasting, and a SWOT Analysis for the quinquenium stretching to 2005. ICM was commissioned to collect the data to evaluate this plan in 2001. This involved collecting data from all union conferences in the world church. Then the study was replicated with some additional material in 2006 looking forward to 2010.

Member surveys. Approximately every three years ICM surveys the members of several hundred congregations in the North American Division selected to be representative as to size, ethnicity, and geographical region. The questionnaire regularly asks items about the personal ministries of the members and standard demographic questions. The various departments of the Division each have a chance to insert a few questions. Each year one special subject is featured. Past examples have been worship preferences, stewardship, communication, and Net satellite evangelism.

Dissemination. ICM is constantly trying to make the results of its research useful. This includes research reports, articles in various denominational journals, articles in scholarly journals, presentations at gatherings such as the North American Ministries Convention, seminars in churches, conference training events, and cooperation with the NAD Office of Research and Information.

Major Completed Projects

Youth retention study. Over 1500 Adventist teenagers, randomly selected from all of NAD, were surveyed each year for ten years in an attempt to discover the factors influencing dropout from or retention in the church. A longitudinal study of this kind had never before been attempted by any church. Preparation for the study, collection of the data over ten years, and analyzing and writing on the findings was a major concern of ICM from 1982 to 1998-a full 16 years. The book reporting on this study-Why Our Teenagers Leave the Church-was published in 2000 by the Review and Herald Publishing Association.

NAD retirement study. ICM surveyed a random selection of denominational employees in NAD to determine their knowledge and attitudes toward the present and future retirement plans. This study provided a base for the retirement committee as it drafted the new Defined Contribution Plan and made adjustments in the present Defined Benefits Plan.

Survey of criteria for hiring pastors. Presidents and ministerial directors of the NAD conferences were asked to rate the criteria they used in hiring pastors-both those new to the work and those currently employed in another field. The information is helpful in designing ministerial education.

Survey on continuing education in ministry. ICM surveyed 500 pastors randomly selected from the NAD to determine preferences for short continuing education seminars. The questions included subjects, venues, and preferred time slots.

Effective pastor study. This study attempted to differentiate between what characterizes effective pastors and those who are less effective. Hundreds of pastors were surveyed as well as leading lay officers of their congregations and conference ministerial directors. Comparisons were made on education, experience, activities, time priorities, and personality among other traits. Peter Swanson of the Christian Ministry Department of the Seminary reported on the findings of the study for his Ph.D. dissertation.

M.Div. curriculum review survey. NAD and the Seminary cooperated on a joint study on theological education in the Division. This has resulted in a revised curriculum for the Master of Divinity degree. To obtain input as to the ministerial product desired by the field, ICM constructed a survey based on the work of a number of Seminary faculty study groups and on four focus groups from around the Division. The survey included 800 pastors, 800 church officers, and all union and conference presidents and ministerial directors.


The Institute of Church Ministry has sought and continues to seek to carry out its mission in a variety of ways.

Research on church issues. ICM has been heavily involved in social scientific research for the church. Since 1980, more than 80 major research projects have been completed. Topics have included a wide range such as: factors related to church growth in North America, ministerial morale, evaluation of materials and services offered by the General Conference, attitudes toward giving, religious commitment among Hispanic youth, attitudes of adolescents toward the church, an evaluation of ministerial training in the American Adventist church, the role of women in the church, more effective means of marketing the Adventist message to non Adventists, chemical usage in the church, the status of women employees in the denomination, attitudes toward women elders, assessments of church ministry activities, factors influencing converts to join the church, factors influencing members to leave the church, preferences of readers of the Adventist Review, political attitudes and behaviors among Adventists, survey of delegates to conference sessions, the Adventist family in North America, and stress among seminary students. Some studies have been published in scholarly journals such as Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Review of Religious Research, Adolescence, Family Science Review, Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, and Journal for Research in Christian Education, and many have been published in denominational, professional, or general readership journals or have been included as chapters in books. More than sixty papers have been presented at the annual meetings of professional associations.

Materials development. ICM has produced a number of materials to aid the church in its mission. They include a tape slide program on human relations; a Caring Church Manual; a church growth manual (Dynamics of Church Growth); a self guiding, tape booklet workshop on human relations in the church; A Manual for Church Growth Consulting; and major books such as Adventures in Church Growth, Plant a Church: Reap a Harvest, The World of the Adventist Teenager, Citizens of Two Worlds: Religion and Politics among American Seventh-day Adventists, Valuegenesis: Faith in the Balance, and Why Our Teenagers Leave the Church. ICM also was responsible for editing the book: Issues: Seventh-day Adventists and Certain Private Ministries. For a number of years ICM produced Administry, the voice of the North American Division.

Consultation. ICM staff members have served as resource persons on several denominational committees such as Marketing and Materials Development, Strategic Planning, Human Relations Advisory, Commission on Chemical Dependency and the Church, Evangelism Steering, Family Ministries Research, Association of Adventist Family Life Professionals, and NAD Curriculum.

Student development. An important by product of the work of ICM is student development. Dozens of students have been employed over the years and have gained new skills in ministry. Students who have worked in ICM over the years have gone on to successful careers in pastoral and administrative work, including the division and General Conference levels.

Research Reports

Several of the projects that are undertaken by the Institute of Church Ministry are available to the public. The completed reports may be used as a resource for you in your ministry.

Available Research Reports

Study: 2013 Twenty-First Century SDA Connection Study by Robert H. Pierson Institute of Evangelism and World Missions 

  a. Adventist Connection Survey Report

  b. Survey Monkey Data

  c. Executive Summary

Study: 2010 Faith Communities Today Study for the North American Division
Download the report

Study: 2009 Congregations Study for the North American Division
Download the report

Study: 2008 US Congregational Life Study
Download the report