Saturday, April 3, 2010

Statistical Report 2009

The following information was presented in the Saturday afternoon session of the 180th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints portraying the status of the Church as of December 31st, 2009.
  • 13,824,854 members
  • 280,106 converts baptized in 2009
  • 119,722 new children of record for 2009
  • 2,865 stakes
  • 344 missions
  • 616 districts
  • 28,424 wards and branches
  • 51,736 missionaries serving
Worldwide Church membership growth slowed during 2009, increasing at a rate of 2.34% or 316,345. The most recent year with as low as a growth rate was 2005 when membership grew by 2.32%. The combined increased in covert baptisms and new children on record was among one of the most impressive indicators of growth in 2009. These two indicators totaled 399,828. There have only been two other years in Church history where the sum of convert baptisms and increase of children on record have exceeded 2009: In 1996 (402,402) and 1990 (408,877). Increase of children on record was slightly less than 2008, which was the highest since 1982. 2009 saw the most convert baptisms since 2002. We did not see a greater increase in membership growth due to the large number of removed individuals from Church records. This statistic can be calculated from the difference between 2009 and 2008 membership totals and subtracting it from the summation of convert baptisms and increase of children on record for 2009. Removed members numbered 83,483 in 2009, the largest number seen since 1998. Most years see between 30,000 to 80,000 names removed from Church records due to death, excommunication, or requests from inactive members.

Stakes increased by 47, the largest increase since 1998. Congregations increased 315; slight more than 2008 but much lower than most years in the past three decades. Consequently the ratio of members to congregations worldwide increased to 486, six more than 2008. It should be noted though that congregational growth outside the United States was at its highest rates in more than a decade mainly due to increase in congregations in Africa and Latin America.

Missionaries serving decreased in 2009 by 758; the largest drop since 2004. The number of missionaries serving began declining in the early 2000s from the low 60,000s to 51,000 in 2004. Missionaries serving began to increase to 53,164 in 2006 and has since declined in the hundreds each year.

23 comments:

Tom said...

As a whole would you rate this growth news as positive or negative? I am unsure what to make of it, though I am worried of a potential slowdown in church growth.

Ultimately the challenge for the next decade are:

*reached out to hundreds of unreached areas

*Improve retention

*Increase strength of member missionary work

*Raise the average annual convert number from 300,000 to 400,000

Are these aims realistic?

Tom said...

just a brief point, why does it say "in 2008" for the numbers?

Matt said...

I would say that this news is positive as an increased number of converts are being baptized (with fewer missionaries) and more children are being born into Church. However these statistics will mean very little if we don't see a large increase in congregations this year or the next. Areas which have seen large membership increases with very little congregation increases include the Philippines and many areas of Latin America. I think that the goals you purposed are definitely realistic.

rfelsted said...

Information from LDSchurchtemples.com for Dec. 31, 2009 showed 604 districts and 28,345 wards and branches, for a difference of 12 districts and 79 congregations from the official totals in today's Conference report. This reflects district and branch organizations in nations for which the Church does not yet report membership data.

Overall, I'd say the statistical report for 2009 was positive. I think it's only a matter of time before the growth trends go back to the rapid rates of previous decades. Meanwhile, more nations and cities are being opened to the gospel all the time. Also, the poor economic times of late have definitely had an effect on growth.

Tom said...

Well after a think about it, this looks more positive than the numbers actually reflect.

Although the children of record increase is less than the 2008-2009 statistic. Convert baptisms overall have risen by 14,000. But as your post states, despite the 3rd largest combination in the churches history it has been swayed by a large increase in the number of removed members.

As you stated, it could be through death, optional name removal or excommunication. If the dominant factor in this statistic is "optional name removal" then its little to worry about as a great deal of those requesting it would have been inactive anyway meaning they made little contribution anyway other than representing a number on the church records. Afterall, If they were not removed, yes that growth number would "look higher" but it would not "be higher" as those people would not be there anyway and simply be inflating the number.

Despite that however, I have a severe dissapproval of anti-mormon "ex-mormon" sites which encourage name removal. Though I am planning a long term scheme in order to constructively combat these websites as well as christian critic "apologetic" websites.

Rick said...

Tom, why should you care about people who no longer consider themselves to be Latter-day Saints removing their names from church rolls. Anyone who would be persuaded by a website to take the time to have their name removed should have their name removed. It would sure make home teaching and other administrative tasks easier in many wards. Clean, tidy church rosters are a plus. People who don't want to be in the church should come back when they can contribute.

Odell said...

Tom, I hate to dissappoint you but some of your assumptions are wrong. Most who resign from the church were active members. I was a first counselor in a bishopric when I resigned and a friend of mine had just been released as a temple president when he resigned. Most who resign were very active and attending members.

The chronic inactive, which probably make up about 65% to 70% of the LDS church membership don't care enough and certainly wouldn't know enough to submit a formal resignation to the church.

And wouldn't you rather have the totally disaffected resign than continue to be a drain on the resources of ward leadership already stretched to the limit?

Because my comments aren't faith promoting, although honest, I am sure this comment will quickly be deleted.

Matt said...

Although I don't have any official statistics, I am going to guess that active members who leave the Church make up a large portion or majority of those who request their names to be removed from Church records. I think that the other major group of individuals who request their names to be removed from the records grew up in the Church and started going inactive in their late teenage years or early 20s. These two groups appear to care the most that they had connections to the Church which they would likely to sever.

Odell said...

Matt: I honestly and respectfully disagree. I am pretty familiar with many former Mormons. Those who resign are the very active ones who leave the church.

Also, I believe the LDS church still continues to count excommunicated and resigned members. The reason I believe this is two partL (1) The death rate alone for a group at 13.8 million people would be about 111,000 a year. The LDS church's figures are far less. I suspect that it is simply unaware of most of the deaths which occur because the great majority of people it counts as members have no contact with it. Also, I know that the LDS church continues to maintain membership files on past members in the (unlikely) event such former members attempts to rejoin the LDS church.

Tom said...

I am sorry Odell but you are the "wrong one" not me:

Your "point" saying "Most who resign from the church were active members" is founded upon yourself and one other guy who resigned as active members. Now, in my last comment I did not say "active members" don't resign, did I?

Regardless you have placed your "Most who resign from the church were active members" comment above mine on little evidence and assumed my claim as being automatically wrong on your very unfounded and incredibly bias assumption.

What I was saying is that members who left years ago do still apply to have their records removed, and you cannot deny that. For I have seen people who have mentioned it on those ex-mormon sites. So basically to draw to the facts resignation numbers include some freshly resigned active members and former active members who left years ago and decide to want their records removed having realised they have the opportunity. So do not try and use unfounded individiualistic experiences to overthrow a more studious observation of a wider factor.

Plus we are not the only church with inactivity membership number problems, so stop beating a stick against us with it.

Odell said...

Tom: No need to go on the offensive, I'm not attacking you or your church, just making some intelligent observations about statistical information.

I don't know any inactive people who take the trouble to resign, most, in my non-scientific experience, tend to go inactive and basically don't consider themselves Mormon any longer.

While it is true that the Mormon church isn't alone in dealing with inactivity rates, it does not have as good a retention rate as other "high demand" religions such as Seventh Day Adventists or Jehovah Witnesses.

I love intelligent discussion and disdain the sort of bellicose attitude laced thoughout your comment.

Can"t we keep discussions civil?

Personally I think the LDS church could benefit from actually listening and learning about why people stop attending (go inactive) or why people resign.

It would seem to me that before a problem could be corrected, one would need to understand the nature of the problem itself.

Odell said...

An additional comment if I may. I know some who left the church emotionally who eventually resign for different reasons: (1) don't want to be official a member of an organization they do not support; or (2) want to be left alone by LDS church leaders and members.

Has the been your experience who people who bother to resign??

Odell said...

While we are on the subject of membership statistics, I think we can all agree that the LDS church does not open its membership records to independent auditing or verification. As far as I am aware, it does not report the number of excommunication or resignations.

Also, I do not believe it currently allows any inquiry into its membership information for any purpose.

The closest independent audit of claimed LDS church is by either sampling or national census (other than the United States).

According to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life in 2007, the LDS church membership in the United States was 1.6% of the US population. The United States population in 2007 was roughly 302 million, making the LDS population about 4.83 million members. The LDS church claimed US membership of 6.3 million members. If even a faction of the 1.47 non self-identifying LDS members in 2007 submitted a resignation letter, the LDS church couldn't have addressed the same. It appears to me that an intelligent deduction can be made that those who bother with resignation are largely those who were active church members who formally leave by written resignation.

rfelsted said...

Odell, you state the Church claimed 6.3 million US members in 2007. You are off by half a million. The 1.6% figure from the independent poll is very close to the actual figure for that time.

Likewise your imputation of LDS death rates as close to the US national average is again off base. Death rates for the Church have always been closer to 5 per thousand, almost 50% lower than death rates for the nation as a whole (Utah's death rate is 2d lowest in the nation).

Odell said...

Thanks for your insight. The LDS church claimed in 2007 that a majority of its membership resided outside of the United States. I believe that the LDS church maintains that most of its members reside outside of the US so I used reliable international death rates from the UN for my analysis.

I think that it is abundantly clear that most of the 13.8 million members the LDS church claims are unknown the church itself which results in very unreliable statistics. Having served a mission in Argentina in the mid 1980s and having been a traveling assistant there, I saw many baptisms with high levels of new converts never attending church again. It was my opinion that activity rates in my mission were around 15 - 20%.

I do not see this has changed from my leadership positions while in the LDS church including several bishoprics.

I suggest that the church's real growth rates would be more accurately determined by the rate of increase of units created, not claimed membership. Further, I believe that there are at least 4 million claimed members the LDS church has completely lost contact with but who are still counted and probably another 4 million which are completely inactive, although known to the church.

Just my two cents.

Odell said...

And I applaud the integrity of the blogger who has not deleted my comments, which has previously happened here.

rfelsted said...

Odell,
One wonders why you take such apparent satisfaction in your nonstop criticism and ill will directed at the Church. Please show your integrity by taking your attitude somewhere else and leave this blog to those of us with testimonies and who love to watch the growth of the Church.

Odell said...

To relstead:

I do not believe I have criticized the LDS church at all. Please point out my criticism and I have the integrity to take responsibility for it, especially if it is inaccurate.

Following LDS church membership numbers and the reporting of the same is an intellectual hobby for me and I believed that this blog was created for this very purpose.

Because I apparently do not believe the same as you is no reason to send me off packing. The ability to rationally discuss ideas is a worthwhile goal. I grant the religion and fervent believe can sometimes make rational discussion difficult.

ALthough I was an LDS member for nearly forty years and had served a mission, married in the temple, served in many callings, including bishoprics, ward mission leader, elders quorum president, high priest group leader, YM president and temple ordinance worker, I am a point in my life that I can actually detach most of my emotion from these sorts of conversations. The passion is gone.

I thin you would welocme an articulate, non-hostile opinion to your discussions. Getting an honest opposing opinion is a healthy and mature attribute.

Matt said...

(Different Matt here)

All I can say is that while the growth of the LDS Church is still increasing, most other Christian denominations are actually decreasing in their overall membership.

So it's all relative. Given in this environment where increasingly society is becoming more secular and not affliated to a particular religion, that the fact the LDS Church is still showing postive growth despite these headwinds attests that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is still moving forward to gather the Lord's elect.

rfelsted said...

Total wards and branches grew only by 51 from 1930 through 1940, from 1868 to 1919, or about 2 1/2% for the entire decade. Membership grew by over 28%, though, so members per unit grew from 358 to 449 (vs. 486 now).

The decade from 2000 to 2010 has had an almost identical percentage increase in membership but about 10% increase in congregations. Members per congregation grew from 417 to 486, but does not take into account groups and dependent branches, so members per congregation would be lower. We've been through these growth cycles before.

Deivisas said...

The Church Statistical Information has been published for the year ending in 2009.

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/statistical-information

-In lithuania where I served my mission Church membership is now reported at 900, an increase of 53 people.
-Estonia now is reported to have more than 1,000 members.
-Russia is now reported to have more than 20,000 members.

rfelsted said...

To Deivisas,

Thank you for letting us know about the statistical report. I don't recall it being available this early in previous years.

Daryl Tanner said...

How DO you get information on "covert" baptisms?

Worldwide Church membership growth slowed during 2009, increasing at a rate of 2.34% or 316,345. The most recent year with as low as a growth rate was 2005 when membership grew by 2.32%. The combined increased in covert baptisms and new children on record was among one of the most impressive indicators of growth in 2009.