Sunday, February 20, 2011

Assessing Member Activity Rates by Percentage Increase in Seminary and Institute Enrollment

For several years the LDS Church has released a summary of seminary and institute attendance for most countries in which the Church has a presence.  Attending seminary or institute provides increased opportunity for members and investigators to enhance their doctrinal understanding of the Church, form friendships with active members, and facilitate regular church attendance.  Noting changing numbers of students enrolled in these Church Education System (CES) programs by country offers insight into change in member activity rates among youth and young adults as many active Latter-day Saint youth and young adults participate in these programs.  The Church does not release member activity statistics, but member activity rates can be ascertained by examining other reported statistics, such as increases in the number of congregations, the formation of stakes, the ratio of membership to congregations, and the percentage of total membership enrolled in seminary and institute.

Below is a list of the countries which experienced at least a 30% increase in CES enrollment between the 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 school years.  Countries with fewer than 100 students enrolled during the 2008-2009 school year have been omitted.  The country name is provided, followed by the percentage increase and the reported number of enrolled students during the 2009-2010 school year.
  1. Ethiopia - 138% - 107
  2. Guyana - 133% - 296
  3. Kenya - 95% - 1,295
  4. Trinidad and Tobago - 92% - 152
  5. Swaziland - 64% - 121
  6. Mongolia - 62% - 1,195
  7. Netherlands - 50% - 581
  8. Republic of Congo - 44% - 720
  9. Czech Republic - 42% - 102
  10. Cameroon - 40% - 192
  11. Tonga - 38% - 2,224
  12. Cote d'Ivoire - 37% - 5,017
  13. Singapore - 33% - 204
  14. Madagascar - 31% - 666
  15. Wales - 31% - 194
  16. Cape Verde - 30% - 573
The percentage increase in students enrolled in CES programs has outpaced the percentage increase for total church membership in each of these countries during this period, which may suggest that in addition to moderate to high rates of convert retention that some inactive members may have been reactivated and are now enrolled in seminary and institute.  Countries with slow or stagnant membership growth listed above (the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Tonga, and Wales) likely experienced strong growth in seminary and institute enrollment from institute and seminary outreach directed towards active members previously not attending classes and inactive or less-active members which have been reactivated and are now attending classes.  Countries which experienced notable increases in CES enrollment between 2008 and 2010 with fewer than 100 students enrolled in 2010 include Saint Vincent and Estonia.

It is important to note that enrollment in seminary and institute for students does not guarantee that students attend church meetings regularly or follow LDS teachings, but enrollment in these programs indicates that these members affiliate themselves with the Church and more than often are actively participating in other church programs.


Tom said...

Great to see part of the UK pop up on this list, something positive at last.

The United Kingdom has well established and mature leadership, strong family structures and high birth rates. Each mission gets a fairly number of baptisms each year too.

one issue though: Retention. I have saw many converts get lost. Luckily in my congregation since 2010, we've had 7 baptized and retained 5 (attending weekly).

That feels like progress to me in a country which is so hampered by secularism and doesnt have the mass convert rates which Africa/Asia/Latin America can boast of :)

John Pack Lambert said...

Another factor in the high growth may be the creation of seminary and institute programs in branches that did not have such or even the creation of branches in areas where there were Church members but not an organized presence. While such would not be all that many members, when we are talking about just over 100 people in the CES program creating three branches each with seminary classes of 5 people, which could be the children in two families, at the time the branch was organized and then the baptism of another family with 2 children of seminary age and one younger child could be a significant factor.

This is without a question of an indication of Church growth however you look at it, but in addition to retention and reactivation it could reflect either program or basic church organizational expansion.

Tom, are you in a branch or a ward? I am only certain my ward here in the US has had 2 baptisms in the last year, I moved into it recently so I can say for sure since August it has been 2, so even if we have 100% retention you have more souls coming to Christ.

John Pack Lambert said...

My earlier statement probably works the best with Ethiopia and less with some other countries. Program expansion to wards and especially branches that did not have seminary before and taking institute to the people could be big factors in other countries, especially in some cases institute expansion, but probably most of these countries were not heavily effected by the incorproation of members who lived beyond branches into branches.

I am still trying to figure out how the figure for Tonga with almost 20 stakes is below that for Ivory Coust which I am fairly certain does not even have four stakes.

I am wondering how Liahona High School in Tonga works into the figures and if the students there do not get counted. That would explain the numbers somewhat.

I thought of another set of people. When I was in seminary for about half a year we had a girl there who was not a member. Due to family opposition she did nto get baptized. In theory you could have more people in seminary and institute that there are members in your country. In practice this is extremely unlikely, but there may be in some cases many youths in seminary lacking parental permission for baptism, which hopefully is a sign that in some of these countries we will see a large number of baptisms in the near future.

It is not surprising to see Ethiopia, Kenya or Mongolia on the list, but it is quite encoraging to see the Netheralnds on the list. Despite the general growth of secularism in Western Europe and least in some parts of that area things are looking up for the Church.

Tom said...


I am part of a ward. We have 127 active members in total, based in an area with a population of 179,000.

The ward gets about 5+ converts a year, the stake I am based in gets 55+ in total. (One ward in my stake had 22 baptisms in 2010!) I have no idea though how many were retained.

Nonetheless the area I live in is strong for missionary work and I am also a product of missionary work in that area myself.

Soon I will be submitting my mission papers, I will be happy to post where I am sent on this blog :)