Jump to content

Church Growth Rate


DonBradley

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

We were treated, a few weeks ago, to an excellent analysis of the Conference statistical report. The church's growth rate has dropped from around 5% at the transition of the '80s to the '90s down to about 2.5% the past few years. The former corresponds to a doubling of membership every fifteen years, the latter to a doubling every thirty years.

What happened? And what's happening now?

I recall reading about a fairly recent survey showing that most members don't make much effort to share the church with others: there appears to have been a drop in member-missionary activity. This no doubt accounts for some of the slow down, but itself calls out for explanation.

One fact that seems salient to me is that LDS discourse over the 90s and early 2000s has tended to highlight what Latter-day Saints share with non-LDS Christians, downplay Mormon "weirdness" or peculiarity, and emphasize the role of grace in salvation more than it has historically been emphasized. If Latter-day Saints themselves see their faith as less unique and don't want to be thought strange, there may be less incentive to share the faith. If my neighbors have most of the Gospel anyway, and I'm trying not to seem religiously odd, why share it? It also may seem less needful, or even interesting to outsiders, who generally have their own faith. The more similar what is offered is perceived to be to what they already have, the less incentive to make a switch.

These ideas may turn out not to explain much, but they do seem relevant. In any case, I'm open to ideas on what has led to (and what maintains) the present low level of church growth, and what can be done to improve it.

Don

Link to comment

Hi all,

We were treated, a few weeks ago, to an excellent analysis of the Conference statistical report. The church's growth rate has dropped from around 5% at the transition of the '80s to the '90s down to about 2.5% the past few years. The former corresponds to a doubling of membership every fifteen years, the latter to a doubling every thirty years.

Numerical-wise, the Church added more members in 09' then in 08'.

What happened? And what's happening now?

A number of factors that are also plaguing other Churches too; more and more people are becoming non-religious and atheist these days, especially in Europe, that and a few countries that we have normally sent missionaries too have become more restrictive in their immigration or proselytizing laws, including Russia, which may also be a contributing factor as well.

Also note that the Southern Baptist Convention is no longer growing any more, unlike us.

I recall reading about a fairly recent survey showing that most members don't make much effort to share the church with others: there appears to have been a drop in member-missionary activity. This no doubt accounts for some of the slow down, but itself calls out for explanation.

CFR please.

One fact that seems salient to me is that LDS discourse over the 90s and early 2000s has tended to highlight what Latter-day Saints share with non-LDS Christians, downplay Mormon "weirdness" or peculiarity, and emphasize the role of grace in salvation more than it has historically been emphasized. If Latter-day Saints themselves see their faith as less unique and don't want to be thought strange, there may be less incentive to share the faith. If my neighbors have most of the Gospel anyway, and I'm trying not to seem religiously odd, why share it? It also may seem less needful, or even interesting to outsiders, who generally have their own faith. The more similar what is offered is perceived to be to what they already have, the less incentive to make a switch.

Ditto to your stupid suggestion, and characterizations.

These ideas may turn out not to explain much, but they do seem relevant. In any case, I'm open to ideas on what has led to (and what maintains) the present low level of church growth, and what can be done to improve it.

Sorry, but your pathetic claims are incorrect and not relevant.

Link to comment

I notice in the site Cumorah.com that in many countries there is a huge inactivity rate as well. In Australia there are 111098 members of which 44439 are active. I think often been my experience with LDS and some of my friends notice that you are only friendly up to the point of the missionary visit. If you aften discussions you show no interest in joining the frienship wanes.

Link to comment

One fact that seems salient to me is that LDS discourse over the 90s and early 2000s has tended to highlight what Latter-day Saints share with non-LDS Christians, downplay Mormon "weirdness" or peculiarity, and emphasize the role of grace in salvation more than it has historically been emphasized.

Seriously? I don't recall Mormons ever playing up their "weirdness." They have always been willing to share their beliefs that set them apart. Our understanding of grace has always been important though misunderstood by those outside the church and the new emphasis may be to help them understand it better. We still get criticized by some for our belief in works as necessary.

Link to comment

I think often been my experience with LDS and some of my friends notice that you are only friendly up to the point of the missionary visit. If you aften discussions you show no interest in joining the frienship wanes.

Well that's a big generalization and to the extent it's true it's something that has been discouraged by church leaders for years. I know many people, myself included, who have long time friends who remained so even after they declined the missionary lessons.

Link to comment
I notice in the site Cumorah.com that in many countries there is a huge inactivity rate as well. In Australia there are 111098 members of which 44439 are active. I think often been my experience with LDS and some of my friends notice that you are only friendly up to the point of the missionary visit. If you aften discussions you show no interest in joining the frienship wanes.

I've never actually witnessed this happening before. But I've heard a lot of people on sites like RfM say this happens, so it much be true.

Link to comment

Ditto to your stupid suggestion, and characterizations.

Sorry, but your pathetic claims are incorrect and not relevant.

These comments are uncalled for. Please review the board policy pinned at top. We are not allowing name calling.

Link to comment

One fact that seems salient to me is that LDS discourse over the 90s and early 2000s has tended to highlight what Latter-day Saints share with non-LDS Christians, downplay Mormon "weirdness" or peculiarity, and emphasize the role of grace in salvation more than it has historically been emphasized.

Don

Hey Don, you should check out Joseph McConkie's speech here, wherein he touches on the issue of our fear of weirdness and giving offense:

A Place for Boldness

Our story begins with the First Vision, which in turn begins with Joseph Smith

Link to comment

The Book of Mormon may provide an answer for why the Church isn't growing as fast as it once did. I have in mind the cycles where people went from humilty to pride, from faithful to unfaithful, based on how well things went economically. We have just recently (within the last two years) peaked in one of the greatest economic booms in the world's history. Pride could very well have been on the rise.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

Link to comment

Hi All,

I appreciate the thoughts so far.

To avoid fruitful contention, I'll simply ignore responses that argue with the entire premise of the OP, which is based on statistical analysis from other threads, relying on Conference reports. But I'll try to get back to the useful suggestions this evening.

Cheers,

Don

Link to comment

These comments are uncalled for. Please review the board policy pinned at top. We are not allowing name calling.

You're right, I should have used the term 'simpleton' and 'disgustingly petty' instead, my bad.

Link to comment

You're right, I should have used the term 'simpleton' and 'disgustingly petty' instead, my bad.

Could you just step outside for a moment, Orin? <slam> <lock>

There, we can continue the discussion in peace.

rolleyes.gif

Link to comment

My grandson's last email had him describing how they had just finished baptizing the last of their current crop of investigators and now they were back hard at work looking for their next crop. He's in Brazil. I think he's lost count of his baptisms.

On the other hand, I spent two years in Germany back in the 70's trying to come up with one or two investigators ever, to whom we could actually teach one or two lessons to. I think I taught a full set of lessons (there were six at the time), about twice. Two baptisms. One stayed active -- and to this day.

I don't know how many of my grandson's converts are going to stay active.

But the seed sometimes falls on rocky ground. It's not up to us, after all.

I think the church is growing in Brazil. I pretty sure it is not in Germany.

Link to comment
I spent two years in Germany back in the 70's trying to come up with one or two investigators ever, to whom we could actually teach one or two lessons to. I think I taught a full set of lessons (there were six at the time), about twice. Two baptisms. One stayed active -- and to this day.

Lucky devil.

I taught a mother and daughter twice who later got baptized (but only after I left the country) . . . and a guy from Australia (whose wife was dancing with one of the companies in Vienna) once . . . and sang at his baptism.

That's it.

That was Austria during the Cold War.

Link to comment

I hesitate to bring this up for fear of sounding uncharitable and judgmental, but it has been a real problem for us here. I've been in my current ward for nearly seven years, and I think we may have had 3-4 really competent missionaries that whole time. Many of them have been nice and committed, but they haven't been anyone I'd be willing to entrust my close friends to. We had a hardworking set of Americans a couple of years ago who really hit the streets and found dozens of people who agreed to listen to our message. Because I'm a student, I frequently went to these 'discussions' with them, and it was agonising. There was nothing discussive about the experience. They would tag-team monologue on and on without any interaction whatsoever from the other people. I'm not making this up: At one discussion, the investigator dozed off, and the Elders never noticed til near the end. I often found myself nodding off; it was that bad. And everyone remembers them as two of the best we've had recently because at least it seemed that they had tried.. After one discussion, I couldn't take it anymore, and I asked them if they didn't think it might help if they at least asked some questions of their investigators to find out what they thought of their teachings. At the next discussion, they monologued again and then, at the very end, asked, 'Do you have any questions about what we've taught you today?' That was it.

I'd feel even worse about speaking liking this, but a member of my last stake presidency talked to us after he'd had a meeting with some 70s in relation to the Aaronic Priesthood, and he said they had told him (and the others there) that, in the history of the Church, there has never been a more worthy cohort of missionaries...nor a less effective one. I've seen it. Even when we supply the missionaries with people to teach, nearly all of the Elders we get here are clueless about what to do next. I don't understand exactly why or how (one of the sleep-inducing Elders mentioned above had a father who was concurrently serving as a mission president in Europe), but, as I said above, this has been a huge problem for us.

Link to comment

We were treated, a few weeks ago, to an excellent analysis of the Conference statistical report. The church's growth rate has dropped from around 5% at the transition of the '80s to the '90s down to about 2.5% the past few years. The former corresponds to a doubling of membership every fifteen years, the latter to a doubling every thirty years.

What happened? And what's happening now?

Nephi saw the answer to your question in a vision:

1 Nephi 14

12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.

13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.

14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

Think of a loaf of bread. Is there more yeast than flour?

Oh...what was it that Jesus said about those who find the gate and the way?

Bernard

Link to comment

I thought the answer would be the Internet. Is it not the Internet that is causing the slowing?

Could be. There is quite a bit of distraction available on the web.

But there is also much good to be found there.

Beyond the web, there are also a number of other factors since the 90's that could be just as relevant - if not more so.

Or this may just be a temporary blip.

More to the point, I haven't yet seen anything which demonstrates that the web itself has a net negative effect on LDS baptisms. It might be the case - but I'd first be interested in seeing the basis for such a claim.

Link to comment

Hestia,

I so appreciate the enactment and enforcement of the new policy, which I was not aware of till I saw it in action here. How nice to be able to discuss things peacefully!

All,

I doubt the Internet has done much to slow the growth of the church. Critics' claims that the Net is destroying the church are vastly, vastly overblown. There are doubtless more defections due to the ready availability of problems and critical arguments. But this would do little to explain slowed conversion rates, particularly in the early '90s and in non-Western countries, where most of the growth occurs.

Don

Link to comment

Some reasons other churches are more attractive to some people.

. the music rocks - Met a young chinese missionary from sydney who told me all his cousins attended Hillsong

. lots of other young people

. you can watch the finals of the football on the big screen on Sunday night at church with your non-christian friends (outreach)

. you only have one scripture to read (the Bible)

. You don't have to wear suits

. Although you might pay tithing, there is no tithing settlement

Link to comment

I thought the answer would be the Internet. Is it not the Internet that is causing the slowing?

This is a possible factor, but I haven't seen any impact personally. My housemate (and current EQ president) was more versed in everything the Internet ever said about 'Mormonism' than anyone else I've ever known. (He was in law school at the time and knew how to research.) He used to come to me with all his questions when he was an investigator. It was good. And the last person to be successfully taught by the missionaries in our ward--by the most excellent teacher we've ever had serve in our ward, actually--was taught in my house. One evening, I asked her if she'd spent much time reading stuff online, and she said she had. I suggested she hadn't read enough, and she promised me she'd read more. The next time she came back, she told me she'd spent the entire weekend reading whatever she could find. I asked her if she had any questions, and she said no. She works for the central government and is a capable thinker, so I'm sure she didn't miss anything. She is now a beautifully active member who, when we ran out of cooking gas last week, showed up with a freshly baked lasagne for us.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...