Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Most Populous Metropolitan Areas Without a Reported LDS Church Presence

Cities almost always offer greater proselytism opportunity for the LDS Church than rural areas. Large populations concentrated in small geographic areas allow for high mission efficiency with even a small missionary force and few church resources. Cities are generally easily accessible. Rural areas, which tend to be sparsely populated, often require a large number of mission outreach centers to administer a small population and in many areas are difficult to access. Large cities often attract people throughout the region, country, or world to visit, temporarily work, obtain education, or become permanent residents. Latter-day Saint converts from these temporary visitors or residents have many times in the past facilitated the spread of the Church to other unreached areas or even rural communities when they return to their hometowns. The Church has taken advantage of the benefits of city-focused church growth outreach as manifest by the Church generally establishing congregations in the largest cities prior to expanding into smaller cities or rural areas.

There remain many large cities which do not have LDS congregations established. Below is a list of the 14 cities which rank among the world's 100 most populous cities which do not have a reported LDS congregation. Some of these cities likely have groups of foreign or native members, especially in nations with a restricted Latter-day Saint presence like China. Population data was taken from
  1. Tehran, Iran (12.8 million)
  2. Wuhan, China (8.95 million)
  3. Shenyang, China (6.8 million)
  4. Chongqing, China (6.4 million)
  5. Ahmadabad, India (5.95 million)
  6. Chengdu, China (5.7 million)
  7. Khartoum, Sudan (4.975 million)
  8. Pune, India (4.85 million)
  9. Chittagong, Bangladesh (4.625 million)
  10. Shantou, China (4.6 million)
  11. Alexandria, Egypt (4.575 million)
  12. Harbin, China (4.4 million)
  13. Surat, India (4.225 million)
  14. Kanpur, India (3.675 million)
With the exception of English-speaking branches or small congregations for native members in China, none of the above listed cities appear likely to have LDS congregations created in the near future. Iran, Sudan, and Egypt have heavy restrictions and widespread abuse or religious freedom whereas cities listed above in India are located in areas with few Christians and generally strong anti-Christian sentiments. Bangladesh offers considerable religious freedom for Christians, but the small Bangladeshi Latter-day Saint community concentrated in Dhaka may delay any gains in national outreach for many more years.


Unknown said...

I served in the New Delhi mission, and was told by companions from the Bangalore mission that there is a homegroup comprised of several families organized in Pune (which falls within the Bangalore mission boundaries).

Bryce said...

Hi Matt, I've been following your blog for some time now, thanks for all you do! After following what is happening with the Church in so many places, I was wondering how things are going in Bangladesh and Belarus. I'm posting this comment under one of only two entries for Bangladesh I see, and I note that there are no posts for Belarus. From reading on and elsewhere the Church seems to have had a presence in both countries for some time with potential for so much more. Given what I have read the last couple years on places such as Turkey, Cuba, Pakistan, etc. I was simply wondering if there is anything new happening in these two nations...

Matt said...

Hi Bryce,

I am glad that you have enjoyed the content on this blog and on the website.

To answer your question, there have been very few church growth developments in both Bangladesh and Belarus that I am aware of. In Belarus, the Church experienced its greatest growth in the early and mid-1990s. As a matter of fact, the Church operated more congregations and was established in more cities at this time than at present. Changing religion laws appear the primary reason for this significant contracting in LDS outreach over the past 15 years. These laws prohibit foreign missionaries from leading congregations, teaching in church meetings, and proselytism. The self-sufficiency of the Church in Belarus appears to continue to be excellent as local members have been forced to become self-reliant in meeting their own needs. However, available resources are insufficient for making any noticeable headway in expanding into additional cities. I do not think that there are many converts baptized nowadays as active LDS members have likely become socially entrenched in the at least four operating branches. Due to poor receptivity and other social issues, I do not see much of a change in growth trends in Belarus for some time unfortunately.

As for Bangladesh, the greatest progress in the past 20 years has been that convert baptisms appear to have occurred more regularly. It does not appear that the Church faces any legal restrictions from assigning missionaries or even openly proselytizing. A foreign member has served as branch president for some time and provides good administrative support. However, it is likely that a native Bangladeshi serving as branch president would open more doors into making greater progress growing the size of the branch and establishing additional groups and branches elsewhere in Dhaka and Bangladesh.

If I find anything new on these two nations, I'll be sure to make a post about it.

Will said...

Also there is this development with Bangladesh: