Friday, November 7, 2008

Future Membership Growth

Last Saturday I gave a presentation to CES employees and seminary teachers in northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming about the growth of the Church. One of the teachers attending asked if there are any places in the world where we might see the kind of dramatic growth that we saw in the 1980s and 1990s in Latin America and the Philippines. This is a very difficult question to answer because membership growth rates can fluctuate drastically. However I wanted to take some time to address this question and to start I will review some of the growth that occurred in the past 25 years. The countries listed in Table 2 all will have over 100,000 members of the Church by 2010. I also provide projected membership for each of these countries until 2040. If you click on the table, it will open in a new window and be easier to read.


You can see some amazing growth has occurred in these countries since 1980. The Dominican Republic went from just 1,000 members to over 100,000 members in 2006. Membership in Brazil and Peru increased by a factor of 10. Membership in the United States has also doubled in the past 25 years. It is likely that we will find the bulk of the future growth of the Church in these 19 countries.

There are areas of the world which have high potential to experience strong growth in the next 20 years. These countries are in Africa, South America, and Asia. These are listed in Table 1.
These growth projections are based on how membership in countries which have over 100,000 members behaved when their memberships were smaller as well as their growth rates for the past eight years. I believe that these projections provide an accurate view of what the distribution of Church membership will look like in the coming decades with the exception of Paraguay and Malaysia. I imagine membership growth in Paraguay will slow in the coming years considering 1% of the population is already a member of the Church and Latin American countries tend to grow much slower once around 1-2% of the population is converted. As for Malaysia, there is always the possibility that membership could reach over half a million in the next 20-30 years, but unlikely considering the vast majority of the rapid growth the Church is experiencing there is due to immigrants and the native peoples on the island of Borneo joining the Church.

The most likely countries that we will see strong membership (and congregation) growth are mainly Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana. These countries resemble the growth seen in South America in the 1980s the most (even though it is not quite a strong as it was then).

Table 1

Table 2

2 comments:

Mara said...

Matt. Can you please send me a copy of the powerpoint you used at the CES training (asap). I want to use a piece of it in my seminary class. I will tell students about the blog.

my email is: neil.hansen@colostate.edu

Walter Valdez said...

cool info