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Kevin Graham

Church Growth Trends

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We should tell Rollo he has a disciple. William James.

I don't understand why he condemns polygamy after his thread about condemning adultery in the Old Testament. If polygamy was wrong, then we deserve an apology from Abraham!!!!!

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IMHO, I think that the Church should invest more in private Junior&High Schools outside the US.

I agree with you. Many countries such as Argentina have free universities-the catch is passing the entrance exams for prestigious programs like engineering, medicine, and law. The only places that prepare high school students to take the test are private schools.

I'd like to think the PEF was designed to help with that. That is, a diesel mechanic today will make enough money to send his sons and daughters to private schools, and they in turn can go on to a professional career. We'll see if it works out like that.

One thing about Chile, the Church sold their school there years ago. There is a school in Mexico City that is affiliated with the church in some form, but I'm not sure what the exact relationship is.

Here's a link to a page run by alumni, with a history of the school in Spanish.

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Seven-Day-Adventists: They are to me the best case that we can benchmark. The funny thing is that they appeared in the US at the same time that LDS Church, but LDS membership in US reached almost 10 to 9 times their local membership.

Why SDA are not so successful in the US but are very, very successful in South America, and Africa? Answer: Junior and High Schools!

Isnt' it weird how easy it is to sometimes find logical, sensical explantions for the stuff that happens in other religions, while at the same time seeing everything that happens in your own religion as a "miracle" or the "hand of God"?

Next your going to tell me that Catholics aren't really seeing the Virgin Mary on cheesetoast, and that Benny Hinn isn't actually healing all those people. :P

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We owe it to our brothers and sisters to try to get to as many as we can, because the Gospel is about happiness in this life as well as joy in the life to come.

'...I did not come to bring peace but a sword...'

'...be not amazed that the world hates you...'

I like Cinepro's new Avatar. It sure looks cute.

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Kevin, just a comment...

I think your perspective as a member may not be long enough. Concerns about Amway parties date back much farther than 1989. (I was hijacked into just such a party way back in 1982.) Also, I don't think the conversion rate has slackened that much since 1990, either (but this observation is based on my own personal experience in Japan and the United States -- I cannot vouch for elsewhere).

You are probably correct about birthrates supporting Church growth. But birthrates are falling everywhere, even in Muslim countries (albeit more delayed there than elsewhere).

Beowulf

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William the Conqueror, My scriptures trump your scriptures.

John 10: 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Ha ha.

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Isnt' it weird how easy it is to sometimes find logical, sensical explantions for the stuff that happens in other religions, while at the same time seeing everything that happens in your own religion as a "miracle" or the "hand of God"?

Next your going to tell me that Catholics aren't really seeing the Virgin Mary on cheesetoast, and that Benny Hinn isn't actually healing all those people.  :P

I'm just giving my opinion about one thing that I know very well. It was not uncommon on my Mission some investigators asked me if the Church had schools like the SDA. I clearly notice their motivation.

Some things in the LDS Church follow also their natural way. The Church just boomed during the 80s and 90s, in grand part because of the 1978 revelation. I'm also from the opinion that the Church has its initial appeal to a certain % of a population. It's hard to have more than 10% of membership outside UTAH, Idaho or Arizona. Once the Church reaches the ones that it will be naturally atracted by its major appeal, when all the easy oranges are already picked out, we need to do a extra-effort or do something different in order to reach out the higher ones.

Regarding the Catholic Church, it loses a lot of members in Brazil every year, evering Censo shows a declining % of Catholics and an increasing number of evangelicals, SDA, Mormons, JW and others. I once asked about this to one scholar from the Sao Paulo Catholical University and he gave me a very reasonable explanation. He told me that the 95% of Catholics in Brazil during the 50s were an untenable situation. This came from the Empire, where the Catholicism was the only one official religion for all the country. Only after the Republic 1890, we took out Catholicism as our official religion from the Constitution. Since then, other religions decade by decade are growing, today Catholicism is still 80% of population but they estimate only a 10% rate of activation, most of them only goes to their Church three times on this Earth, when they were baptized by their parents, when they got married and when they die. I know that in other countries around all Latin America the situation is very similar <_< .

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== I would like to first correct some of your assumptions about islam. they do NOT practice polygamy.

All of them? Certainly not. But it is a normal part of Arab culture which is, for the most part, strictly Islamic.

There are some horror stories happening in France, related to Arab Muslim polygamy, that would make even the most vocal anti-LDS-polygamy critics shudder.

Of the dozens upon dozens of Muslims I've met, only two were converts. Sure, some people convert to Islam like in any other religion, but I think the figures are relatively low compared to other proselytizing religions.

Actually, there have been quite a few conversions to Islam in France since the 90s. Not masses of people, but enough that the media noticed that phenomenon: French middle-class educated young adults converting to Islam. As you can imagine, it came as a big shock in our secular, pro-Catholic country. But it doesn't surprise me: it seems like what attracts some of those converts is the intensity of the religious life in Islam. They choose Islam because it's an every day, almost every hour, religion. It seems paradoxical, but they like Islam because it is NOT a Sunday religion: it requires them to invest themselves totally in their new life, and they like that!

That's why I'm a bit sad that we LDS do not emphasize our peculiar-ness anymore. By trying to fit in, we are losing our appeal to the more intense type of spiritual people. "Mormon" still rings a peculiar bell in Europe for now, but as we ditch our peculiarities, we are losing this visibility.

Del

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I think that the world's progress in terms of logic, science, and reason has been outpacing that of church doctrine. As science and reason begin to demonstrate that conservative doctrines are fundamentally flawed, people are less likely to accept those flawed doctrines. Conservative church leadership is making the church a dinasaur. (take especially, doctrines in the realm of sexuality) This is why it is easier to find converts among poorer, less-educated populations.

Eactly, exactly, exactly!

You hit the nail on the head! You put into words, clearly, what I have always thought.

I posted a thread about the dissolving face of Satan. Part of the gist was that even back in the late 80's we were fascinated by Satans ability to lend power to Fortune tellers, fork benders, and faith healers. We even fell for this hocus pokus in the church and blamed it on old scratch. Now, society generally dismisses this nonsense as it has been explained and disproved.

Good post, thanks :P

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World's progress vs God's knowledge? I know which I pick. And if there are now people who are more likely to choose what the world thinks over what God thinks, that is really sad for them.

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Dando== I know of EV missionaires who have gone or are currently in every single one of these countries. And some in countries you didn't mention. They are not there to die but they do think subverting the government's laws in the name of the Gospel is worth the risk.

Well there you have it. Are we willing to break the government laws? In Spain the JWs got there 20 years before us by essentially lying to the government. They arrived as a "Bible Society" to give away Bibles, but said no evangelistic activity would be involved. They lied and established Churches in buildings disguised as something else. The LDS Church decided to abide by their law and not try to sneak one by them.

== If done correctly and with wisdom, their safety is generally not at risk.

But they essentially risk their lives as well as the lives of the converted who are typically killed like rats in China and elsewhere. In Islam apostasy from Islam is punishable by death. The only way to convert people in Islamic countries is to preach to Muslims. That is a big NO NO. For some Evangelics the risk might seem worth it. After all, if they don't hear the gospel sometime between now and the time they die, they're going to burn in hell forever. From an LDS perspective, they're going to hear the gospel in the spirit world anyway. So why risk ending your life and theirs, when man is that he might have joy? The LDS idea behind conversion is to help people enjoy the blessings of living the Gospel. But given the typical LDS attitude from on high towards Islam, they seem to indicate that living a life in Islam is hardly any different from an LDS life. So there is little meaning behind taking such huge risks.

== Christianity can be and is taught underground. It's also practiced underground. Are you saying that Mormonism could not be? Public door knocking is not the only method of evangelism available to followers of Christ.

Well it is for an army of teenagers who wander into a foreign land, especially with no Church basis for support.

== I'm so thankful that the Early Church didn't put safety over worshipping and serving Christ.

Give me a break. They were not breaking any laws as you suggest we should.

Randy == Kevin, I have to ask the simple question. What difference does it make? If you have a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel etc.....what difference does it make that the church didn't hit some hypothetical membership benchmark?

It doesn't. I just think it might have something to do with what I said above. I'm not calling for Defcon 5 at the MTC or anything. Just something to talk about.

Beowulf ==Kevin, just a comment...I think your perspective as a member may not be long enough. Concerns about Amway parties date back much farther than 1989.

True, but the pyramid business really took off in the 90's and more clone companies meant more visibility, which meant more open criticism, which meant more critical information available to more people, which meant more rejection. Right?

I was one of those guys that got persuaded to attend an "A.L Williams" meeting in Atlanta. They never tell you what it is all about up front of course. Humbert Humphrey was the millionare Mormon in Atlanta and he had started a few of those pyramid businesses. Anyway, A.L. Williams was banned from military bases, which I found out from my Dad. It also morphed into a company called Primerica. Selling insurance.

What really frustrates me is that my administrator at school handed me an invitation for MY WIFE. She had only met her once, 6 months ago, and I thought that was weird. She said it was something "just for girls." So my wife went having no idea what it was about. It was Herbal Life. Even in Brazil I can't get away from this crap. If telemarketers start calling me here I'm moving to Antartica.

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William the Conqueror, My scriptures trump your scriptures.

John 10: 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Ha ha.

Yes, and St. Stephen and Paul had abundant life while they were being stoned. I am not being facetious either.

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I think that the world's progress in terms of logic, science, and reason has been outpacing that of church doctrine. As science and reason begin to demonstrate that conservative doctrines are fundamentally flawed, people are less likely to accept those flawed doctrines. Conservative church leadership is making the church a dinasaur. (take especially, doctrines in the realm of sexuality) This is why it is easier to find converts among poorer, less-educated populations.

Eactly, exactly, exactly!

You hit the nail on the head! You put into words, clearly, what I have always thought.

I posted a thread about the dissolving face of Satan. Part of the gist was that even back in the late 80's we were fascinated by Satans ability to lend power to Fortune tellers, fork benders, and faith healers. We even fell for this hocus pokus in the church and blamed it on old scratch. Now, society generally dismisses this nonsense as it has been explained and disproved.

Good post, thanks

Thanks, maxrep12.

Charity wrote:

World's progress vs God's knowledge? I know which I pick. And if there are now people who are more likely to choose what the world thinks over what God thinks, that is really sad for them.

Ah, but Charity, don't you see? People like me who are in favor of science and logic as a generally reliable and reasonable way of discovering truth never knowingly reject "God's knowledge". Rather, we reject what religious zealots have termed "God's knowledge." I am of the opinion that truth does not change. I also believe in God and that God only teaches truth to the human soul. However, what I do observe is that there is obviously a great deal of disagreement in and out of the church about what is in fact true. I also observe plainly that societal views of truth, including within the church and among church leadership, have changed dramatically over time. Faced with such disagreements and discrepancies, one who ponders is called upon to determine how he can know exactly what is true. One thing I feel very confident about is that, if God's truth does not change, then at the very least, man's (including church leaders') perception of it does. How can we really know?

Many zealots answer that we need only listen to and obey church leaders, study scriptures, and then pray for confirmation that such things are true. You needn't look very far to find believers who have had what they believed to be spiritual witnesses such as confirmation about church doctrines, which those believers, though still remaining believers on the whole, learned were incorrect. I know that I have had that experience personally. See prior posts having to do with Santa Clause, and explaining former testimony. It is also not adequate to dismiss false spiritual experiences by explaining it away as the sin of the individual seeking the confirmation. I can personally attest to this fact. What is critical to understand is this: it is not a person's righteousness alone which enables them to understand truth; rather, ability to understand and accept truth has a GREAT DEAL to do with how prepared a person is in terms of their cultural background, past experiences, already-accepted beliefs, etc. Many believers on this board have defended Brigham Young's racist remarks on this very kind of ground.

How can we break out from the cultural biases which are inherent to every human being so that our search for truth may be untainted by what philosophers (this includes prophets and church leaders) have already concluded? It may not be possible 100%, but we can start by making an attempt to search for truth on a clean slate. We can reject the notion that something is without a doubt true merely based upon the fact that some church leader or prophet said it is. We must be willing to question everything and accept the possibility that our faith will be shaken as a result. To refuse to learn something which might be true on the ground that one is afraid to lose his faith is to walk with blind faith. Ultimately, we should not expect to know all truth in this life, and I accept the idea that my mortal mind may lack the capacity to grasp certain things. But I also believe that God has given us brains for a reason- that we may use them to discern truth from error. I do not believe that God would expect a person to believe a purported truth with no or virtually no evidence when logic and reason cast strong doubt upon whether that thing is true. I'll bet there were a great deal of Catholics around Newton's time who felt pressure to continue to believe that the earth was the center of the universe, notwithstanding strong scientific suggestions that it was not so.

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== Yes, and St. Stephen and Paul had abundant life while they were being stoned. I am not being facetious either.

Please tell me you're kidding. You're not seriously unaware of the type of "life" Jesus was referring to, are you?

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World's progress vs God's knowledge? I know which I pick. And if there are now people who are more likely to choose what the world thinks over what God thinks, that is really sad for them.

Charity,

I am not at all picking on you here, but you may be surprised how far "World's progress" has overshadowed "Gods knowledge".

I have oft heard the phrase during a priesthood blessing, "Guide the hands of the surgeon"

It is almost as if the lord gets sprinkled across the entree as seasoning, but never qualifies as the main course.

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max, you said: "you may be surprised how far 'World's progress' has overshadowed 'Gods knowledge'."

So have you said before you were an atheist? I don't recall it. But you cannot believe in God with the statement.

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For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) :P

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max, so you believe in a small g god as your god? No wonder he doesn't know as much as a scientist. But my Heavenly Father is God.

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Kevin wrote:

I was one of those guys that got persuaded to attend an "A.L Williams" meeting in Atlanta. They never tell you what it is all about up front of course. Humbert Humphrey was the millionare Mormon in Atlanta and he had started a few of those pyramid businesses. Anyway, A.L. Williams was banned from military bases, which I found out from my Dad. It also morphed into a company called Primerica. Selling insurance.

What really frustrates me is that my administrator at school handed me an invitation for MY WIFE. She had only met her once, 6 months ago, and I thought that was weird. She said it was something "just for girls." So my wife went having no idea what it was about. It was Herbal Life. Even in Brazil I can't get away from this crap. If telemarketers start calling me here I'm moving to Antartica.

Boy have you hit a nerve!

My wife is very leery of all this. And particularly detests Mormon versions of it... When I was in California (til last year), the ward in the next community over had an Amway branch of Amway distributor converts who all sat together in Sacrament Mtg. and formed their own little subgroup. Their Amway-ness was a part of their Gospel. Weird...

But as I said, I noticed this pyramidal frenzy decades ago. I don't think it revved up in the 90s.

Beowulf

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Well, i just have to say why exactly do we have three threads on this subject? Not that its bad. I just think its alittle odd.

Anyway why do I think we may have leveled off a bit? Its probably because we arent living up to the potential we could. I think the Lord really tries to get the Saints involved but I think alot of Zion is completely asleep.

Actually I was reading the New Priesthood manual for next year and Wilford Woodruff said that in the parable of the virgins the virgins fell asleep for a while. Perhaps we are still sleeping in part.

When we start listening to the prophet more and obeying the Lord, when we start doing are home and visiting teaching and reaching out to less actives we will see success.

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max, so you believe in a small g god as your god? No wonder he doesn't know as much as a scientist. But my Heavenly Father is God.

When I was typing, I was holding a Cola beverage and couldn't hit the shift key to capitolize God. But I'm with you Charity, the bigger the GOD the better! :unsure:

I capitolized "Cola" because it was Jolt cola. That brand has twice the caffiene as diet coke. Jolt brand cola falls in to the category of rated "R" cola's.

True story:

In 92 I was visiting at Helamen Halls. In the lobby there were several vending machines. One particular machine held an assortment of different snacks. Sandwiches, apples, pop, chips etc. Each snack was isolated in its own locked compartment. (Why locks with the honor code? :P )The policy on campus was to only vend the caffiene free coke.

I paid my dollar, and reached in and grabbed the gold can of decaffienated coke. Before I closed that vending compartment, I put in its place a red can of the fully leaded Coke! <_< I was an RM too, what a rebel!

Recently I was in contact with a Provo film crew producing the upcoming movie, "Mormons Gone Wild". We were going to recreate that 1992 scene, but after a fair amount of deliberation, the director decided it was too edgy.

Ok, well the story is true up until the film shoot thing!

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Anyway why do I think we may have leveled off a bit? Its probably because we arent living up to the potential we could. I think the Lord really tries to get the Saints involved but I think alot of Zion is completely asleep.

Starbucks could help spread the gospel? :P

You're more than welcome to do the self loathing bit, but we have Bar Raised Missionaries now who are equipped with the newly inspired "Preach my Gospel".

The missionaries today, bar raised and all, baptize half of what the missionaries of the 80's and early 90's did. Sorry, my man, its the times we live in. Your ward can fast until them members look like they follow the word o' wisdom but.........

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The clown crying on the inside, max?

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Any graph showing total membership from one year to the next will show that growth is accelerating, with possible exception of the last two years. Even there, any apparent slowing of growth is difficult to see.

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I think that the world's progress in terms of logic, science, and reason has been outpacing that of church doctrine.  As science and reason begin to demonstrate that conservative doctrines are fundamentally flawed, people are less likely to accept those flawed doctrines.  Conservative church leadership is making the church a dinasaur.  (take especially, doctrines in the realm of sexuality)  This is why it is easier to find converts among poorer, less-educated populations.

Eactly, exactly, exactly!

You hit the nail on the head! You put into words, clearly, what I have always thought.

I

Sorry!

But I have to disagree! Maybe that's true in Europe or USA, but most in the underdeveloped WORLD Pentecostals Fundamentalists are growing at a high growth rate. In Brazil, one of the Christian Churches that had increased a lot during the last 20 years is the Universal Church of the Kingdom of GOD. Its major appeal is to broadcast scenes of exorcism on TV. Also, with it, they proclaim what the sociologists call, a Theology of Prosperity, unemployment, misery, familiar problems, sickness are all from the devil, the servant of the Lord prosper on Earth and become rich. Any parallel to Mormon 8 is not mere coincidence.

Their appeal doesn't reach the upper classes, and in the US they have a relative success among the latin imigrants. It

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