Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Mission in Wyoming

Last weekend, the Church announced the creation of a new mission headquartered in Wyoming. The Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission was organized on January 16th from a division of the Colorado Fort Collins, Montana Billings, South Dakota Rapid City Missions. Although boundaries for the new mission have not been announced, it appears that the mission will include several stakes in central Wyoming as evidenced by the mission being organized from three different missions. The new mission will have a strong emphasis on Martin's Cove and the Mormon Trail in proselytizing efforts - possibly in a manner similar to the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission. The mission president for the new mission is the former director of the Mormon Handcart Historic Site. The new mission is the Church's first mission to be headquartered in Wyoming.

Click here to access the LDS Church News article on this development.

Friday, January 9, 2015

11 New Missions to be Created in 2015; One Mission to be Discontinued

The Church announced the organization of 11 new missions in July 2015. These missions include:
  • Argentina Buenos Aires East
  • Argentina Santa Fe
  • Bolivia La Paz El Alto
  • California Modesto
  • Costa Rica San Jose West
  • Peru Trujillo South
  • Portugal Porto
  • Trinidad Port of Spain 
  • Utah Logan
  • Utah Orem 
  • Washington Yakima 
The Church announced that one mission will be discontinued in July 2015: the Utah Salt Lake City Central Mission (organized in 2012). The total number of missions will be 416 after these changes go into effect. Reports indicate that the number of members serving full-time missions has continued to remain high (84,728) but has decreased from its all-time high of nearly 89,000 reached sometime in 2014.

I was disappointed to see so few new missions organized in 2015 despite the Church holding onto most of its gains in the number of members serving full-time missions. No new missions announced for Asia or Africa was a major disappointment. The bulk of surplus missionary manpower continues to be allocated to areas where the bulk of LDS membership resides rather than to areas where the bulk of the world's population resides. Many African nations have receptive populations yet continue to lack separate LDS missions such as Burundi, Cameron, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Togo. Hopefully we will see greater mission resource allocation to these receptive areas within the coming years. The Church has likely avoided the organization of new missions in these and other countries due to a lack of members from these nations serving full-time missions. Although self-sufficiency is important to long-term growth and efficiency, a lack of mission resource allocation to under-serviced areas may result in missed opportunities for growth when populations are receptive and missionary manpower is plentiful.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Most Comprehensive LDS Statistical Database Released

As part of work I have completed for The Cumorah Foundation (cumorah.com), I have completed the most comprehensive country-by-country database to provide data on membership, congregations, stakes, districts, estimated member activity rates, and the percentage of the national population residing in locations with LDS congregations. Users can download the file as an Excel spreadsheet to explore the data. We hope that this resources will fuel additional research and interest in the study of missiology and LDS Church growth. Data in the database goes back to 1930. Enjoy!

Click here to view and download the database.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 2014 Newsletter

Click here to access our December 2014 issue of our monthly newsletter for cumorah.com.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Updated List of New Missions to be Created in 2015

I have come across additional reports of new missions to be organized in 2015. Here is an updated list of the 11 new missions to be organized in July:
  • Argentina Buenos Aires East
  • Argentina Santa Fe
  • Barbados Bridgetown
  • California Modesto
  • Costa Rica (2nd mission)
  • Peru Trujillo North 
  • Portugal (2nd mission)
  • Utah Logan
  • Utah Orem 
  • Washington Yakima
  • Wisconsin Appleton
Assuming no missions will be discontinued, the addition of these new missions will increase the total number of missions worldwide to 417.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Encouraging and Discouraging LDS Growth and Missionary Developments in 2014

I recently completed a case study for cumorah.com that identifies what I believe to be the top 10 encouraging and discouraging LDS growth and missionary developments for 2014. Please click here to view the case study.

The top 10 encouraging developments are:
  1. The Worldwide Surge in the Full-time Missionary Force Begins to Stabilize with Larger Numbers of Missionaries than Originally Expected
  2. Largest Net Increase in the Worldwide Number of Stakes since 1998
  3. Rapid Growth in West Africa
  4. Church Creates its First Stakes in Four Nations
  5. Reversing Stagnant Growth in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan
  6. Unprecedented National Outreach Expansion in Brazil
  7. Philippines Growth
  8. The Vietnamese Government Officially Recognizes the Church in Vietnam; Progress in Missionary Work Continues
  9. First Young, Full-time Missionaries Assigned to Burma and Gabon; Missionaries Return to Sri Lanka
  10. First General Conference Addresses Given in Languages Other than English
The top 10 discouraging developments are:
  1. Trends in Congregational Decline Intensify in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay and Persist in Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela
  2. At least 106 Countries and Dependencies Experience No Net Change in the Number of Official Congregations for 2014
  3. Continued Challenges Achieving "Real Growth" in Mexico
  4. Trends in Congregational Decline Persist in Japan and South Korea
  5. Contraction of LDS Outreach in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Continues
  6. Little to No Expansion of National Outreach Occurs in several countries in the Africa Southeast Area
  7. Stagnant National Outreach Expansion in India
  8. Only Two New Missions Organized Despite Surge in the Number of Members Serving Full-time Missions
  9. Conflict in Ukraine Closes the Ukraine Donetsk Mission - All LDS branches discontinued in Donetsk
  10. Missionaries Removed from Liberia and Sierra Leone

Monday, December 22, 2014

Go Ye Into All The World - New Facebook Group

After months of careful thought and planning, I have decided to create a Facebook group that promotes member-missionary efforts through social media advertizing. The new group is called Go Ye Into All The World and the Facebook page can be found here. The purpose of this page is to promote efforts to bring the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, particularly locations with no LDS presence. This can be done through ordinary Latter-day Saints using Facebook's ad campaigns.

I conducted my first ad campaign for Arochukwu, Nigeria from December 14th-19th. I targeted Arochukwu from December 14th-19th with an advertisement on the Book of Mormon. Arochukwu has no known LDS presence but is nearby several cities where wards and branches operate. It is one of the most populous cities in southeastern Nigeria without an LDS presence. Consequently I believed that this effort may contribute to the Church ultimately establishing a presence in Arochukwu. This effort reached 1,889 people and resulted in 54 website clicks to read the Book of Mormon page on mormon.org. Remarkably this ad cost only $5.

The opportunities for missionary work through social media advertizing are astounding. There are over two billion registered users on Facebook. Church leaders, full-time missionaries, and regular church members can invest small amounts of money into ads that reach tens of thousands within a short period of time. Advertisements can also be adapted to the culture and society of individual locations to enhance receptivity. A mission president may use social media to prime local populations prior to the assignment of full-time missionaries. Church members in the United States can target their own city or zip code to reach thousands with only a few dollars. Less productive areas of the world can use social media advertizing to find investigators. Area presidencies can use social media advertizing as part of opening additional countries to missionary work.

I am planning on creating a grassroots initiative to systematic reach countries and cities lesser-reached or unreached by the Church. However, I am going to advise those who want to participate to avoid targeting countries where proselytism is illegal or where conversion to Christianity carries significant negative consequences. If you are interested, join the group!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Another Two Missions to be Created in 2014

Missionaries serving in Utah report that the following new missions will be created in mid-2015:
  • Utah Logan Mission (division of the Utah Ogden Mission)
  • Utah Orem Mission (division of the Utah Provo Mission)
The number of missions in Utah will increase to 11 after these two new missions are created. This means that the average Utah mission will have a mere quarter of a million people within its geographical boundaries.

So to recap, here's a list of new missions I have come across to be organized in 2015.
  • Barbados Bridgetown
  • California Modesto
  • Peru Trujillo North
  • Utah Logan
  • Utah Orem
At this rate, I imagine that we may see 60 or so new missions organized in 2015, with the vast majority of these new missions organized in the Americas.

Two Additional Missions to be Created in 2015

I have come across reports of two additional missions to be organized in 2015. These missions include:
  • California Modesto Mission (to be created from the California Fresno and California Sacramento Mission)
  • Peru Trujillo North Mission (to be created from the Peru Trujillo Mission)
With the announcement of the new Barbados Bridgetown Mission, the number of LDS missions in 2015 will increase to 409.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

LDS Presence in Vietnam No Longer Sensitive

The Church has recently reclassified its presence in Vietnam from sensitive to non-sensitive. This change appears attributed to the Church obtaining government recognition earlier this year. Currently the Church in Vietnam reports one district located in Hanoi (organized on December 12th, 2010) and four branches (Hanoi, Hanoi District Branch, Tan Son Nhat, and Thao Dien). Full-time missionaries serving in the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission speculate that larger numbers of missionaries may be assigned and additional cities outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City may open to proselytism within the near future.

Earlier this year the Church reported 1,600 members in Vietnam.