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Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in decline?


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I posted this in Poptarts thread on the decline of Christianity in general but thought it was worth  thread.

Form an Latter day Saint standpoint this article points out some disturbing trends and even the start of a decline in LDS membership starting in the 2030s.  

What steps can the Church do, if any, to stave this off?  Do you think the top leaders are worried? I think they must be.

Any other thoughts?

 

 

https://www.wherewillyougo.life/mormon-membership-will-begin-decline-by-2030/

 

Some quotes:

  Quote

The rate of growth in the Mormon Church is on a sharp decline (from 6.2% in 1990 to 1.2% in 2018)1.

 

 

  Quote

 

If we assume that the respective rates for the entire Mormon Church are similar, then the rate at which people are currently leaving the official membership is about 2.9%.

I’m sure that it’s troubling to Mormon leaders that people are leaving Mormonism at double the rate that people are converting to Mormonism.6

 

 

 

 

  Quote

 

What the Future Holds

If this trend of slowing over the last 10 years, continues, Mormon membership will peak around the year 2034 and then begin to decline for the first time in modern history.

Projections for Mormon Church Percentage Change

That means that total membership would look something like this:

Projections for Mormon Church Percentage Change

 

 

 

  Quote

 

My Prediction: Membership Will Decline Before 2030

I think that several factors are currently in-play that will make membership decline even faster.

  • Convert Baptisms Will Decline:
    • People Are More Informed: I expect first-world convert baptisms to continue to decline. Today, educated people are used to doing research on the web before buying a sofa or even dry erase markers. So, most people will do some serious online reconnaissance before changing religions too. When they do, they are likely to discover true and disturbing history that their Mormon friends don’t even know about and are unprepared to address (e.g. Kinderhook plates7, the GAEL8, BOM witness accounts9).
    • Fewer Baseball Baptisms: You’ve probably heard stories about certain Mormon missions where huge numbers of people were baptized who really had no business being baptized. Today, this is commonly referred to as baseball baptisms (probably named after one well-known such event that occurred in England). This happened on my mission in the mid-’90s just before I arrived. From all accounts, it was awful. At that time, missionaries couldn’t call home and were encouraged to write only uplifting things to family. If they wrote to general authorities, their letters were returned to my mission president (who was a vindictive person and the cause of all the problems). Today, however, missionaries have their own phones and they are encouraged to call home once a week. Among other positive things that are sure to come from this, it will most likely reduce the number of baseball baptisms, because word about awful mission presidents will get out quickly.
  • Resignations Will Increase:
    • Truth Crisis: The Mormon Church is in the midst of a crisis10. Many believing Mormons are leaving the Church after learning disturbing history of their own religion11. Most believing Mormons are still completely unaware of this information. I suspect that this will change in the coming years as it becomes more normal to know “apostates” and information becomes more prevalent and difficult to avoid.
    • Doubling Down: I predict that this problem will be exacerbated as Mormon leaders continue to deny that a truth crisis exists — instead telling the world that they are being transparent and honest about their version of history12. This will only compound the problem when more Mormons learn that this is not the case13. Many formerly faithful Mormons report feeling lied-to and deceived by their Mormon leaders, and that this was an important factor in their decision to leave14.
    • The Unpopular Side of Social Issues: One prominent example that has caused many Mormons to leave their religion behind, is the Church’s stance on homosexuality. They are slowly moving to be more accepting, but for many people, it’s too little, too late. Many Mormons will continue to question their faith until gay Mormons feel like first-class citizens in their own church.
      Another important social issue that’s causing many Mormons to question their faith is Church’s response (or lack thereof) to the spate of Mormon leaders in the news for accusations of sexual abuse.
    • Easy Resignation: Another factor that I predict will increase resignations is that a lot of former Mormons are being counted in the official numbers15 because they never took the time to remove their records. Removing your records used to be a cumbersome and irritating process. Today, you can do it for free on quitmormon.com in a few minutes. Former Mormons are more likely to resign in the future as they become aware of this resource.
  • Fewer Mormon Children: The birth rate — even for Mormons — is on a decline.
  • Boomers Will Die: Many baby boomers are senior citizens now, so, many of them will die in the next 10 years. Since they represent a spike in the population, this is likely to increase the death rate slightly.

In other words, I think that Rb will decine, Rc will decline, Rd will increase slightly, and Rr will increase.

 

 

 

  Quote

 

What Does This Mean?

I think that the leadership of the Mormon Church should be in full panic mode because the viability of their Church is being threatened.

Probably nothing can be done to reverse this trend in the short-term, but they can plan for the long-term health of the Church. I think that the only way to do this is to take accountability for their past inaccuracies and commit to complete honesty in the future16.

Personally, I don’t think there’s any chance they will do this.

I’m very curious to see what impact this will have upon Mormon Church membership numbers in the future.

 

 

 

This trend should be alarming and I agree with the bolded statement above that the LDS leadership is in full panic mode.  I also think long term they are fighting a losing  battle.  The historical issues and truth claims are easily researched and the plethora of problems so readily obvious it is easy for an investigator to do some homework and readily run away from the idea of joining the church. And we already see the church is bleeding many devote, committed, smart and economically well off member because of the almost impossible task of defending the sticky issues. 

Also I think many conservative religions will fall more out of favor over the social issues especially as older members die and younger people who have views contrary to many of the social positions of the the Church and other conservative religions simply opt out.

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Teancum said:
 
I posted this in Poptarts thread on the decline of Christianity in general but thought it was worth  thread.

Form an Latter day Saint standpoint this article points out some disturbing trends and even the start of a decline in LDS membership starting in the 2030s.  

What steps can the Church do, if any, to stave this off?  Do you think the top leaders are worried? I think they must be.

Any other thoughts?

 

 

https://www.wherewillyougo.life/mormon-membership-will-begin-decline-by-2030/

 

Some quotes:

  Quote

The rate of growth in the Mormon Church is on a sharp decline (from 6.2% in 1990 to 1.2% in 2018)1.

 

 

  Quote

 

If we assume that the respective rates for the entire Mormon Church are similar, then the rate at which people are currently leaving the official membership is about 2.9%.

I’m sure that it’s troubling to Mormon leaders that people are leaving Mormonism at double the rate that people are converting to Mormonism.6

 

 

 

 

  Quote

 

What the Future Holds

If this trend of slowing over the last 10 years, continues, Mormon membership will peak around the year 2034 and then begin to decline for the first time in modern history.

Projections for Mormon Church Percentage Change

That means that total membership would look something like this:

Projections for Mormon Church Percentage Change

 

 

 

  Quote

 

My Prediction: Membership Will Decline Before 2030

I think that several factors are currently in-play that will make membership decline even faster.

  • Convert Baptisms Will Decline:
    • People Are More Informed: I expect first-world convert baptisms to continue to decline. Today, educated people are used to doing research on the web before buying a sofa or even dry erase markers. So, most people will do some serious online reconnaissance before changing religions too. When they do, they are likely to discover true and disturbing history that their Mormon friends don’t even know about and are unprepared to address (e.g. Kinderhook plates7, the GAEL8, BOM witness accounts9).
    • Fewer Baseball Baptisms: You’ve probably heard stories about certain Mormon missions where huge numbers of people were baptized who really had no business being baptized. Today, this is commonly referred to as baseball baptisms (probably named after one well-known such event that occurred in England). This happened on my mission in the mid-’90s just before I arrived. From all accounts, it was awful. At that time, missionaries couldn’t call home and were encouraged to write only uplifting things to family. If they wrote to general authorities, their letters were returned to my mission president (who was a vindictive person and the cause of all the problems). Today, however, missionaries have their own phones and they are encouraged to call home once a week. Among other positive things that are sure to come from this, it will most likely reduce the number of baseball baptisms, because word about awful mission presidents will get out quickly.
  • Resignations Will Increase:
    • Truth Crisis: The Mormon Church is in the midst of a crisis10. Many believing Mormons are leaving the Church after learning disturbing history of their own religion11. Most believing Mormons are still completely unaware of this information. I suspect that this will change in the coming years as it becomes more normal to know “apostates” and information becomes more prevalent and difficult to avoid.
    • Doubling Down: I predict that this problem will be exacerbated as Mormon leaders continue to deny that a truth crisis exists — instead telling the world that they are being transparent and honest about their version of history12. This will only compound the problem when more Mormons learn that this is not the case13. Many formerly faithful Mormons report feeling lied-to and deceived by their Mormon leaders, and that this was an important factor in their decision to leave14.
    • The Unpopular Side of Social Issues: One prominent example that has caused many Mormons to leave their religion behind, is the Church’s stance on homosexuality. They are slowly moving to be more accepting, but for many people, it’s too little, too late. Many Mormons will continue to question their faith until gay Mormons feel like first-class citizens in their own church.
      Another important social issue that’s causing many Mormons to question their faith is Church’s response (or lack thereof) to the spate of Mormon leaders in the news for accusations of sexual abuse.
    • Easy Resignation: Another factor that I predict will increase resignations is that a lot of former Mormons are being counted in the official numbers15 because they never took the time to remove their records. Removing your records used to be a cumbersome and irritating process. Today, you can do it for free on quitmormon.com in a few minutes. Former Mormons are more likely to resign in the future as they become aware of this resource.
  • Fewer Mormon Children: The birth rate — even for Mormons — is on a decline.
  • Boomers Will Die: Many baby boomers are senior citizens now, so, many of them will die in the next 10 years. Since they represent a spike in the population, this is likely to increase the death rate slightly.

In other words, I think that Rb will decine, Rc will decline, Rd will increase slightly, and Rr will increase.

 

 

 

  Quote

 

What Does This Mean?

I think that the leadership of the Mormon Church should be in full panic mode because the viability of their Church is being threatened.

Probably nothing can be done to reverse this trend in the short-term, but they can plan for the long-term health of the Church. I think that the only way to do this is to take accountability for their past inaccuracies and commit to complete honesty in the future16.

Personally, I don’t think there’s any chance they will do this.

I’m very curious to see what impact this will have upon Mormon Church membership numbers in the future.

 

 

 

This trend should be alarming and I agree with the bolded statement above that the LDS leadership is in full panic mode.  I also think long term they are fighting a losing  battle.  The historical issues and truth claims are easily researched and the plethora of problems so readily obvious it is easy for an investigator to do some homework and readily run away from the idea of joining the church. And we already see the church is bleeding many devote, committed, smart and economically well off member because of the almost impossible task of defending the sticky issues. 

Also I think many conservative religions will fall more out of favor over the social issues especially as older members die and younger people who have views contrary to many of the social positions of the the Church and other conservative religions simply opt out.

Prophecies in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants indicate that after a period of serious internal dissension and worldwide persecution the members of the Church who remain true and faithful through this time of great trials will receive great outpourings of the power of God in great glory. As a consequence of this stunning victory over the forces opposed to God, the Church will then arise fully equal to the task of building Zion while the rest of the world will be distracted as the nations of the world descend into a state of constant warfare. What you apparently believe to be signs of the Church’s decline are simply the fulfilling of prophecy on the way to the Church’s ultimate glorious victory over Satan and his earthly servants. Great tests of faith must first be successfully endured before the remaining faithful members of the Church can be endowed with enough power, enlightenenment and wisdom to establish the latter-day Zion of refuge and safety from the foretold tribulations of the last-days.

Edited by teddyaware
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1 minute ago, teddyaware said:

Prophecies in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants indicate that after a period of serious internal dissension and worldwide persecution the members of the Church who remain true and faithful through these great trials will receive great outpourings of the power of God in great glory. As a consequence of this stunning victory over the forces opposed to God, the Church will then arise fully equal to the task of building Zion, while the rest of the world will be distracted as the nations descend into a state of constant warfare. What you apparently believe to be signs of the Church’s decline are simply the fulfilling of prophecy on the way to the Church’s ultimate glorious victory over Satan and his earthly servants. Great tests of faith must be successfully endured first before the remaining members of the Church can be endowed with enough power, enlightened and wisdom to establish the latter-day Zion of refuge and safety from the foretold tribulations of the last-days.

Rah, rah!  It is always prophesied not matter which way it goes. Now can you step off the Samuel the Lamanite wall and address the post?

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I remember, not long ago, a prediction by a journalist that claimed, in the not too distant future, the membership in the Church would rival that of the Catholic Church.  It's kind of like global cooling and then global warming, the truth never lies in the extremes.

Edited by T-Shirt
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My predictions:

We, along with all of our brothers and sisters, will continue to exercise our agency in deciding whether to allow Deity to enter into, and abide in, our lives.

Disciples will continue to strive for eternal life through their efforts to know and love their Father and Savior.

Those disciples will continue to invite their brothers and sisters to seek, from Him, the wisdom God has promised to His children.

God will continue to bestow His wisdom abundantly to His children who seek it with the requisite intent.

Satan will continue his efforts.

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29 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

I remember, not long ago, a prediction by a journalist that claimed, in the not too distant future, the membership in the Church would rival that of the Catholic Church.  It's kind of like global cooling and then global warming, the truth never lies in the extremes.

I know what you re referring to annd you have grossly overstated it.  The sociologist I believe was Rodney Stark and in the 80 called Mormonism a new world wide emerging religion that could grow to 100 million members by the mid 21st century. If I recall he revised his projections as convert numbers declined.  Who could have known how damaging free access to information would be to the church.

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11 minutes ago, let’s roll said:

My predictions:

We, along with all of our brothers and sisters, will continue to exercise our agency in deciding whether to allow Deity to enter into, and abide in, our lives.

Disciples will continue to strive for eternal life through their efforts to know and love their Father and Savior.

Those disciples will continue to invite their brothers and sisters to seek, from Him, the wisdom God has promised to His children.

God will continue to bestow His wisdom abundantly to His children who seek it with the requisite intent.

Satan will continue his efforts.

Which addresses nothing in the OP.

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13 minutes ago, Teancum said:

I know what you re referring to annd you have grossly overstated it. 

What did I overstate?  I never believed he was right and the whole point in bringing it up was to show that he was wrong, just like the author of your article will likely be wrong.

Quote

The sociologist I believe was Rodney Stark and in the 80 called Mormonism a new world wide emerging religion that could grow to 100 million members by the mid 21st century. If I recall he revised his projections as convert numbers declined.

And, the author of the article you posted will revise his predictions when he sees they aren't going to be accurate.

Quote

  Who could have known how damaging free access to information would be to the church.

Funny how the exact same information will damage the faith of some and will strengthen the faith of others.  I will not be surprised if the growth rate continues to decline.  Maybe some day it will reach a point of negative growth, I don't know, but I am quite confident there is no state of, "panic" amongst the leaders of the Church.  Growth does not equal truth.

Edited by T-Shirt
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6 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

What did I overstate? 

 

Stark never said the church would rival the Catholic church in numbers.

6 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

 

I never believed he was right and the whole point in bringing it up was to show that he was wrong, just like the author of your article will likely be wrong.

Wrong in the opposite direction.  And it is not my article.  He may be wrong.  But I don't think so.  Trends are there and troubling and the Church is doing a lousy job addressing them. But hey no skin of my teeth.  You and others like usual can  blithely dismiss such things and we will continue to watch the church decline.

6 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

And, the author of the article you posted will revise his predictions when he sees they aren't going to be accurate.

Maybe.  If factors change it would only be honest to do so.

 

6 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

Funny how the exact same information will damage the faith of some and will strengthen the faith of others. 

Funny that.  Confirmation bias is tough to overcome.

 

6 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

 

I will not be surprised if the growth rate continues to decline. 

That is good because it is going to for the foreseeable future.

Quote

Maybe some day it will reach a point of negative growth, I don't know, but I am quite confident there is no state of, "panic" amongst the leaders of the Church. 

Are you?  Why?  Based on what?  Apparently in at least 213 some LDS leaders were concerned enough to do this study.  

 

https://faenrandir.github.io/a_careful_examination/documents/faith_crisis_study/Faith_Crisis_R28e.pdf

 

You may want to take a look,

 

 

Quote

Growth does not equal truth.

I agree.  Up or down.  But so many in the Church thought it did in the 70s and 80s when I was growing up and serving a mission.  Losing an enormous amount of faithful members though may indicate your claims to truth have a major problem.

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16 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Which addresses nothing in the OP.

One is truth, which merits the attention of all, and if heeded, would have eternal consequences.  I prefer eternal truths over speculation and invite others to do the same.  You are free to choose.

Do you intend to take any action at all with respect to the speculation contained in the OP other than parroting it?  If not, I’m not sure what value you see in speculating about speculation.

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9 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Of course Church membership is in decline.  Society is in decline so it only makes sense that proportionally those following the gospel would decrease.

You think that is the only reason?

9 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

And as morality, standards, and values decline I'd expect membership to continue to go with it.

Or maybe there is a problem with the product.

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2 minutes ago, let’s roll said:

One is truth, which merits the attention of all, and if heeded, would have eternal consequences.  I prefer eternal truths over speculation and invite others to do the same.  You are free to choose.

Supposed truths. And hypderbole.

2 minutes ago, let’s roll said:

Do you intend to take any action at all with respect to the speculation contained in the OP other than parroting it?  If not, I’m not sure what value you see in speculating about speculation.

WHat action would I want to take?  I shared some thoughts and did not simply parrot it. And the article actually had methodology.  But as noted, I sure love these responses.  Hide your head in the sand and watch it all crumble. Fine with me.  I can see why there is a problem with people disaffecting if the sampling here is any indication on how TBMs approach the issue.  

 

But three reason I posted it was to see how people would respond, whether active members see a problem and what ideas you all might have to fix YOUR problem.  So this thread is very much serving its purpose.

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45 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Stark never said the church would rival the Catholic church in numbers.

That was simply my recollection from several years ago, however, I am not the only one:

Quote

Sociologist Rodney Stark, who predicted in 1984 that Mormonism would eventually rival Catholicism, Islam and other major religions with 267 million members worldwide by 2080, said aid lavished on new converts by a lay clergy rooted in international business and other top-tier professions explains much of the global appeal.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mormons-northeast/mormonism-thrives-in-heavily-catholic-northeast-idUSFLE26237320070612

Quote

Confirmation bias is tough to overcome.

To quote you, "You and others like usual can blithely dismiss such things..."  It is funny how with you, it is an honest display of enlightenment, but for the faithful it is a dishonest display of confirmation bias.

Quote

Apparently in at least 213 some LDS leaders were concerned enough to do this study.  

There are miles of distance between, "concerned" and, "panic".

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12 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

To quote you, "You and others like usual can blithely dismiss such things..."  It is funny how with you, it is an honest display of enlightenment, but for the faithful it is a dishonest display of confirmation bias.

Look you  are the one invested in the church now.  My point is not that the article is right or wrong. It is pretty obvious that the church has a problem keeping high quality members and its growth is diminishing.  What the long term impact is I do not know.  If you choose to ignore it or dismiss it, if you don't want to address it, if you want  to believe it is all made up and a lie well have at it.  Since at least currently I am hardly invested into the LDS Church it does not impact me much. 

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A useful resource I like to look at as far as hard numbers go is this blog: http://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/?m=1

It gives good overviews of growth developments for the church. I know that it's quite a contentious debate about how much membership the church will lose or gain over the coming years, and I think you can find what fits your narrative. Like I said, this blog provides good updates. From what I've read, there seems to be growth of stakes in the intermountain west, and lots of growth in Africa. Conversely the church seems to be shrinking in California. 

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To answer the question as an active believing Latter Day Saint, I think it's obvious that there are many major societal changes that are occurring that are causing faith to be frowned on more and more. I think that these kinds of discussions also need to point out that even though our growth is slowing, there is still growth. We focus on the US and Europe but as mentioned in my previous  post, the church is growing quite a bit in Africa. I am sure folks are worried about these trends, but panicking is a pretty strong word to use. Who knows what will happen in the next few decades?

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Just now, boblloyd91 said:

To answer the question as an active believing Latter Day Saint, I think it's obvious that there are many major societal changes that are occurring that are causing faith to be frowned on more and more. I think that these kinds of discussions also need to point out that even though our growth is slowing, there is still growth. We focus on the US and Europe but as mentioned in my previous  post, the church is growing quite a bit in Africa. I am sure folks are worried about these trends, but panicking is a pretty strong word to use. Who knows what will happen in the next few decades?

Here's the thing, how do the established Mormons in Zion feel about that?  Considering the likes of DeZnat seems to be getting popular in places as well as the older, wealthier ones who can trace their roots back to the pioneers grow resentful of transplants plus their privilege being called out by LDS leadership, we'll see how that goes.  I know a lot of the Mainlines and some Conservative Catholics aren't thrilled with the current state of affairs.

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3 hours ago, T-Shirt said:

I remember, not long ago, a prediction by a journalist that claimed, in the not too distant future, the membership in the Church would rival that of the Catholic Church.  It's kind of like global cooling and then global warming, the truth never lies in the extremes.

That reminds me of Joe Rogan and Ben Shapiro having a conversation about the future of the metaverse - virtual reality (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b9-tsND40g

History has always and the future will always lie in the extremes.

 

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2 hours ago, Teancum said:

Losing an enormous amount of faithful members though may indicate your claims to truth have a major problem.

By definition, one doesn't lose faithful members.

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

But three [sic] reason I posted it was to see how people would respond, whether active members see a problem and what ideas you all might have to fix YOUR problem.

There really is no meaningful reason to share in this thread what we know from personal experience helps the Church to grow because you have already predetermined what the 'problem' is and therefore what needs fixing, and I am certain that you are wrong.

58 minutes ago, Teancum said:

 It is pretty obvious that the church has a problem keeping high quality members ...

This is not at all obvious to me, and I sincerely doubt it is obvious to most other faithful members reading this thread. Has my ward lost some members over the nearly 19 years I've lived in this city? Yes, certainly. And no doubt those who left would label themselves 'high quality', 'TBM', 'prominent', etc., in their exit narratives, but that has not actually been my observation.

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2 hours ago, Teancum said:

You think that is the only reason?

Or maybe there is a problem with the product.

Nah... it's the market that's changed.  The product may no longer be in demand as much since it doesn't fit the current fads.

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13 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Nah... it's the market that's changed.  The product may no longer be in demand as much since it doesn't fit the current fads.

I agree with you, but I would also say that the "product" has changed in recent years, too. 

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4 minutes ago, JustAnAustralian said:

Law of chastity would stop a large chunk of my single non-member acquaintances. Word of wisdom would probably stop the rest.

I remember thinking that before my mission, but my experience then and since is that conversion solves both problems.

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