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The Real Concern Over Church Growth


california boy

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There is a thread talking about the slowdown of the growth of the church and if it is really as bad as some have saild. I think all can agree that the growth of the church has been slowing down. But rather than quibble over what the exact numbers are, maybe the real question is why has the church's growth slowed. If this is God's church, isn't it suppose to fill the whole earth? Or are only a very small almost undetectable number of God's children going to receive the blessings of the church?

Why aren't people as attracted to the church as much as they used to be?

Has the image of the church shifted? Did prop 8 present a church image of bigotry and homophobic? Is there still a lingering racist image from the ban of blacks and the priesthood? Is polygamy still a lingering problem?

Is it really the more you learn about the church, the less attractive it is? Do people dismiss the church and Joseph Smith when they learn that he married a 14 year old girl or BY making racist statements in the 1800's? You know that antiMormon talking points.

If this is the plan of happiness, why are so many people not participating? Do they find more joy in sinning than living the gospel? Even the majority that join don't seem to remain active. If wickedness never was happiness, why are so many people choosing a sinful life?

Or is the world just more wicked and the message is falling on deaf ears? It is the end of the world and God is winding things down.

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If this is the plan of happiness, why are so many people not participating? Do they find more joy in sinning than living the gospel? Even the majority that join don't seem to remain active. If wickedness never was happiness, why are so many people choosing a sinful life?

I refer you to the parable of the sower.
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If this is the plan of happiness, why are so many people not participating? Do they find more joy in sinning than living the gospel? Even the majority that join don't seem to remain active. If wickedness never was happiness, why are so many people choosing a sinful life?

Maybe people are finding more "joy" in other religions or outside of religion these days. Studies show that people are much happier today than just 25 years ago

My link.

Whatever the case may be, I think we can all agree that our activity rate is horrible and needs much work.

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Complex of everything you mentioned. But the real reason is education. The Internet and all forms of instantaneous communication is bad for the Church's "faith-promoting history". I thoroughly expect the Church's growth rate to diminish over time. And I further expect its activity rate to diminish until it is more or less on a level with other religions. About 25% activity rate is actually very good, but even that is a massaged number, taking into account all who attend even ONE sacrament meeting every c. three months....

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Here are some things that I think are factors:

1. The internet. Information about the church and its history more readily available than ever before. All people have to do is google mormonism and they instantly find out things about the church that aren't so appealing.

2. A shift in moral thinking. I think more and more people in the younger generation have more liberal views about the world. They are likely turned off by the church's stance against homosexuality.

3. The new atheist movement. It seems that people like Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Chris Hitchens, and Sam Harris are gaining quite a following these days.

4. Busy lifestyles. The world we live in is becoming more and more fast-paced and busy for people. People just don't have time to be investigating a religion.

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Maybe people are finding more "joy" in other religions or outside of religion these days. Studies show that people are much happier today than just 25 years ago

My link.

And of course those studies had a completely objective way of measuring happiness, which makes them infallible.
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Complex of everything you mentioned. But the real reason is education. The Internet and all forms of instantaneous communication is bad for the Church's "faith-promoting history".

Nope. Anti-Mormon literature challenging the Church has always been with us. The Internet has changed nothing in that regard, except perhaps to lower the overall quality of available Anti-Mormon literature.

I thoroughly expect the Church's growth rate to diminish over time. And I further expect its activity rate to diminish until it is more or less on a level with other religions. About 25% activity rate is actually very good, but even that is a massaged number, taking into account all who attend even ONE sacrament meeting every c. three months....
Of course, historical trends always continue unabated, so you must be right that Church growth will continue to diminish.

Wait a minute...

...why is THIS the trend that will continue, and not the earlier historic trend of explosive growth?

Someone seems to be using circular logic here...

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Oh yeah, on the topic of choosing "SIN": I would like anyone to back that one up with some real evidence. Just because someone stops church activity does not mean that they are choosing SIN instead.

People are getting better, not more wicked. Real efforts to study crime statistically (not anecdotal selection by the NOOZ) indicates that it is in decline and has been for many years. Most people quit religious activity over feelings of disenchantment with the Org; not some increasing desire to live it up at the expense of their neighbors....

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2. A shift in moral thinking. I think more and more people in the younger generation have more liberal views about the world. They are likely turned off by the church's stance against homosexuality.

Young people generally are more liberal. When they get older they tend to adopt more conservative views. This has pretty much always been the case.
3. The new atheist movement. It seems that people like Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Chris Hitchens, and Sam Harris are gaining quite a following these days.
The new atheist movement has little to differentiate it from the old.
4. Busy lifestyles. The world we live in is becoming more and more fast-paced and busy for people. People just don't have time to be investigating a religion.

So people today are MORE busy than farmers who had to work all day every day in order to merely survive?
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Oh yeah, on the topic of choosing "SIN": I would like anyone to back that one up with some real evidence. Just because someone stops church activity does not mean that they are choosing SIN instead.

Ceasing Church activity when you have covenanted to attend your meetings through baptism is itself a sin. Therefore anyone who goes inactive is choosing to indulge in at least one sin.
People are getting better, not more wicked. Real efforts to study crime statistically (not anecdotal selection by the NOOZ) indicates that it is in decline and has been for many years.

Crime is not the only measure of whether people are righteous. Broken families, civility, etc. are relevent factors.
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There is a thread talking about the slowdown of the growth of the church and if it is really as bad as some have saild. I think all can agree that the growth of the church has been slowing down. But rather than quibble over what the exact numbers are, maybe the real question is why has the church's growth slowed. If this is God's church, isn't it suppose to fill the whole earth? Or are only a very small almost undetectable number of God's children going to receive the blessings of the church?

Why aren't people as attracted to the church as much as they used to be?

Has the image of the church shifted? Did prop 8 present a church image of bigotry and homophobic? Is there still a lingering racist image from the ban of blacks and the priesthood? Is polygamy still a lingering problem?

Is it really the more you learn about the church, the less attractive it is? Do people dismiss the church and Joseph Smith when they learn that he married a 14 year old girl or BY making racist statements in the 1800's? You know that antiMormon talking points.

If this is the plan of happiness, why are so many people not participating? Do they find more joy in sinning than living the gospel? Even the majority that join don't seem to remain active. If wickedness never was happiness, why are so many people choosing a sinful life?

Or is the world just more wicked and the message is falling on deaf ears? It is the end of the world and God is winding things down.

I doubt anyone joined the church because it was popular.

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And of course those studies had a completely objective way of measuring happiness, which makes them infallible.

I don't think anybody is saying that studies aren't "infallible". It is an interesting study and the findings are pretty compelling that the vast majority of people in the world are happier today than 25 years ago.

More importantly, don't you feel that more people being happy and content with their lives is a good thing?

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There is a thread talking about the slowdown of the growth of the church and if it is really as bad as some have saild. I think all can agree that the growth of the church has been slowing down. But rather than quibble over what the exact numbers are, maybe the real question is why has the church's growth slowed. If this is God's church, isn't it suppose to fill the whole earth? Or are only a very small almost undetectable number of God's children going to receive the blessings of the church?

Why aren't people as attracted to the church as much as they used to be?

Has the image of the church shifted? Did prop 8 present a church image of bigotry and homophobic? Is there still a lingering racist image from the ban of blacks and the priesthood? Is polygamy still a lingering problem?

Is it really the more you learn about the church, the less attractive it is? Do people dismiss the church and Joseph Smith when they learn that he married a 14 year old girl or BY making racist statements in the 1800's? You know that antiMormon talking points.

If this is the plan of happiness, why are so many people not participating? Do they find more joy in sinning than living the gospel? Even the majority that join don't seem to remain active. If wickedness never was happiness, why are so many people choosing a sinful life?

Or is the world just more wicked and the message is falling on deaf ears? It is the end of the world and God is winding things down.

Interesting thought.. I think it is all that and more. I think that the more the LDS church tries to portray itself as "normal" the stranger it seems.

The growth stats will move up and down periodically. I don't know that a current low will translate into a permanent trend.

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Ceasing Church activity when you have covenanted to attend your meetings through baptism is itself a sin. Therefore anyone who goes inactive is choosing to indulge in at least one sin.

Crime is not the only measure of whether people are righteous. Broken families, civility, etc. are relevent factors.

According to you it is a sin. Whether or not it actually is remains to be seen. There is also the option that the Mormon baptism means nothing.

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The Internet has changed nothing in that regard, except perhaps to lower the overall quality of available Anti-Mormon literature.

Actually, I think you will find the internet has made access to literature, personal experiences and history that is critical of the Church MUCH more accessible, organized and easier to find than ever before.

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There is a thread talking about the slowdown of the growth of the church and if it is really as bad as some have saild. I think all can agree that the growth of the church has been slowing down. But rather than quibble over what the exact numbers are, maybe the real question is why has the church's growth slowed.

Ask God.

If this is God's church, isn't it suppose to fill the whole earth?

It is.

"Turn, O backsliding children, said the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:"

-Jeremiah 3:14

Doesn't sound like a lot huh? Fills the earth but small bits of each part.

Or are only a very small almost undetectable number of God's children going to receive the blessings of the church?

Bingo.

Why aren't people as attracted to the church as much as they used to be?

"Behold, I will send for many fishers, said the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks."

-Jeremiah 16:16

First we pull them in in large nets and then we have to hunt down the stragglers. We are currently in a 'hunting' phase in most of the world.

Has the image of the church shifted? Did prop 8 present a church image of bigotry and homophobic? Is there still a lingering racist image from the ban of blacks and the priesthood? Is polygamy still a lingering problem?

I doubt it. We were getting converts in huge loads with fewer missionaries back when we were 'those crazy Mormons living in the wilderness' with tales of sordid polygamy, treason, etc.

Is it really the more you learn about the church, the less attractive it is?

Then the staunchest members who follow the counsel of the Brethren and learn their religion and the gospel and study it in-depth would be falling away in droves. I do not see this.

Do people dismiss the church and Joseph Smith when they learn that he married a 14 year old girl or BY making racist statements in the 1800's? You know that antiMormon talking points.

Most don't know or care. The few who do outside the Church are mostly our enemies anyways. So this shouldn't change conversion rates much.

If this is the plan of happiness, why are so many people not participating?

Most people don't seek happiness with any seriousness or at least are not willing to pay a steep price for it.

Do they find more joy in sinning than living the gospel?

No, but it's easier.

Even the majority that join don't seem to remain active.

The Savior spoke on this. Check what he said.

If wickedness never was happiness, why are so many people choosing a sinful life?

They don't seek happiness. They seek comfort or wealth or social acceptance or 'being left alone' or something else. Nibley was convinced humanity has an aversion to happiness. I thought him crazy at first but now I'm beginning to see his point.

Or is the world just more wicked and the message is falling on deaf ears?

It's the same wickedness.

It is the end of the world and God is winding things down.

Maybe but I expect that we have at least a century before we can expect the Savior to come in his glory. I hope not because I want to live to see it but....oh well.

Look, you seem to think that people are basically good (in a broad worldly sense) and I agree with that. They also follow the path of least resistance. You seem to expect that sweet reason and gradual conversions will win the world over. Is never going to happen. The scriptures are plain on this. The gospel brings strife and division.

We have recently enjoyed a long time of general acceptance by the world. This happens. They don't mind us. We have some camp followers and those outside who deeply respect us. Eventually though we will (like all dispensations) become a threat to those in power or to society in general or to 'intellectual progress' or whatever. Prop 8 may have been an opening shot but it was a paltry one.

The dangers of this age are we may come to 'like being liked' more then we love the Savior who upset the social, political, and religious order everywhere he went.

Sorry if I got too preachy.

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Nope. Anti-Mormon literature challenging the Church has always been with us. The Internet has changed nothing in that regard, except perhaps to lower the overall quality of available Anti-Mormon literature.

Even the information is "new", as in published and widely disseminated, as opposed to esoteric like before. You discount the power of dissemination that the Internet is.

Real circular logic here is: asserting that the "quality" of anti-Mormon literature was higher before the Internet. As the Internet's contents come directly from the publications that predated it, how exactly does the quality diminish just because it enters the Internet? And are people today more prone to believe crap than before? Conversely, are people more inclined to be skeptical today than before? I'd actually assert "yes" to that last question; because "once burned twice shy". And today anyone can get "burned" so much faster than in the past, before the Internet. Education is a swift process today compared to pre-Internet days.

Of course, historical trends always continue unabated, so you must be right that Church growth will continue to diminish.

Wait a minute...

...why is THIS the trend that will continue, and not the earlier historic trend of explosive growth?

Someone seems to be using circular logic here...

And the reason why I expect the trend to continue downward is because of the dissemination of information. As you seem to ignore or disregard this as a real factor, we disagree....

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Even the information is "new", as in published and widely disseminated, as opposed to esoteric like before. You discount the power of dissemination that the Internet is.

That axe swings both ways.

Real circular logic here is: asserting that the "quality" of anti-Mormon literature was higher before the Internet. As the Internet's contents come directly from the publications that predated it, how exactly does the quality diminish just because it enters the Internet? And are people today more prone to believe crap than before? Conversely, are people more inclined to be skeptical today than before? I'd actually assert "yes" to that last question; because "once burned twice shy". And today anyone can get "burned" so much faster than in the past, before the Internet. Education is a swift process today compared to pre-Internet days.

I think people are as gullible today as they've ever been. I have also not seen an increase in skepticism. Access to information does not make an education.

And the reason why I expect the trend to continue downward is because of the dissemination of information. As you seem to ignore or disregard this as a real factor, we disagree....

I deal with missionaries in the United States on at least a weekly basis (usually more) and know what is going on with their various pools. I can recall only one person who dumped them due to the internet and if they'd been at all skeptical they would have seen their argument as a pack of lies. The arguments he used against the elders were those all but the most virulent and/or stupid anti-Mormons would have been embarrassed to hear. I doubt the impact is as big as you imagine.

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Ceasing Church activity when you have covenanted to attend your meetings through baptism is itself a sin. Therefore anyone who goes inactive is choosing to indulge in at least one sin.

I have never ceased attending church meetings, they are just in a different building. So am I sinning?

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Nope. Anti-Mormon literature challenging the Church has always been with us. The Internet has changed nothing in that regard, except perhaps to lower the overall quality of available Anti-Mormon literature.

I disagree. While literature has been in existence, the availability hasn't always been high. When I was baptized in the early 90's, the only anti-literature I would encounter would come if I visited a major church geography, such as Palmyra. With the rise of the internet, and apologetics, and further research into Mormon history, published material is simply a google search away.

While there is a lot of squabbling about whether literature is anti-mormon or not, the fact is, with very little probing, anyone can find well-researched literature that refutes and cast doubts on the truth claims of the LDS church.

Anecdotaly, in my neck of the woods, there has been a rise in people leaving the church or lessening their activity who give the reason that they no longer believe all the truth claims of the church. While people aren't leaving in droves, it is a new trend, one that we hadn't seen even 5 years ago.

H.

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Ask God.

It is.

"Turn, O backsliding children, said the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:"

-Jeremiah 3:14

Doesn't sound like a lot huh? Fills the earth but small bits of each part.

Bingo.

"Behold, I will send for many fishers, said the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks."

-Jeremiah 16:16

First we pull them in in large nets and then we have to hunt down the stragglers. We are currently in a 'hunting' phase in most of the world.

I doubt it. We were getting converts in huge loads with fewer missionaries back when we were 'those crazy Mormons living in the wilderness' with tales of sordid polygamy, treason, etc.

Then the staunchest members who follow the counsel of the Brethren and learn their religion and the gospel and study it in-depth would be falling away in droves. I do not see this.

Most don't know or care. The few who do outside the Church are mostly our enemies anyways. So this shouldn't change conversion rates much.

Most people don't seek happiness with any seriousness or at least are not willing to pay a steep price for it.

No, but it's easier.

The Savior spoke on this. Check what he said.

They don't seek happiness. They seek comfort or wealth or social acceptance or 'being left alone' or something else. Nibley was convinced humanity has an aversion to happiness. I thought him crazy at first but now I'm beginning to see his point.

It's the same wickedness.

Maybe but I expect that we have at least a century before we can expect the Savior to come in his glory. I hope not because I want to live to see it but....oh well.

Look, you seem to think that people are basically good (in a broad worldly sense) and I agree with that. They also follow the path of least resistance. You seem to expect that sweet reason and gradual conversions will win the world over. Is never going to happen. The scriptures are plain on this. The gospel brings strife and division.

We have recently enjoyed a long time of general acceptance by the world. This happens. They don't mind us. We have some camp followers and those outside who deeply respect us. Eventually though we will (like all dispensations) become a threat to those in power or to society in general or to 'intellectual progress' or whatever. Prop 8 may have been an opening shot but it was a paltry one.

The dangers of this age are we may come to 'like being liked' more then we love the Savior who upset the social, political, and religious order everywhere he went.

Sorry if I got too preachy.

Not preachy at all. I found your response thoughtful and insightful. Do you think that the members can do anything to change the image of the church or do you think the image of the church is just fine and doesn't need to change.

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Nope. Anti-Mormon literature challenging the Church has always been with us. The Internet has changed nothing in that regard, except perhaps to lower the overall quality of available Anti-Mormon literature.

Really? The internet has changed nothing in regard to the accessibility of "anti-mormon" literature? If you really believe that, you obviously don't use the internet much, or maybe you think its a vast network of inter-connected tubes? :P

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