Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Draft of Case Study on the Effect of Lowering the Minimum Mission Age on LDS Growth

I am currently writing a case study for  on the Church's recent decision to lower the minimum mission age in regards to how this will affect LDS Church growth.   I wanted to temporarily post the draft of the case study on my blog to receive your input and feedback prior to posting it on the Cumorah website.  

Please include your feedback under the comments section.

*I have posted the case study on  Click here.


ginalynn said...

Thank you for breaking the possibilities down into such detail. I am not a statistician or even very mathematical so none of the equations of the mission age announcement had entered my mind. What I do know is that the bottom line is that the Lord has said send more missionaries and His will is being carried out. As for the possible immaturity of the 18 year olds, "Whom the Lord calls, He also qualifies." It will be beautiful to see the Gospel spreading throughout the world. We live in remarkable times, what a blessing.

Adam said...

As for the comments about putting multiple companionships in an area and how it hinders long term growth, I can see that as a problem with fledgling groups relying on Elders. I have seen areas where there was already somewhat decent organization and additional companionships where put in and it greatly helped retention and reactivation.

Was this the case you noticed with the the RM questionairres or was it more for all units in general?

Matt said...

We have found that multiple missionary companionships assigned to a single unit often reduces self-sufficiency. This is clear from the Church in several Eastern European countries (Greece, Russia, Bulgaria) and the Caribbean (Guyana, Suriname, Aruba, Curacao) where in a few instances the Church has had more missionaries than non-missionaries in attendance at church on Sundays. Yes, there are times when assigning a second companionship can help with reactivation efforts or efforts to organize a second unit. So to answer your question, this was not something that came out of the RM surveys but rather member and church leader reports from around the world.

Rolf said...

By reducing the age both for women and men I hope that the church will use this change in the missionary program to also change the focus. Today there is too much focus on short term growth – we need true converts that will result in real growth. I think this is only possible by reducing the stress on missionaries and mission presidents to baptize. Have missionaries focus on challenging investigators to commit to reading the scriptures, praying, coming to church and changing their lives. Let local priesthood leaders be responsible for interviewing investigators for baptism. They have the long term perspective.
This could be a great opportunity to “be one” in missionary work – by taking away the conflict that is often seen between the mission and the local priesthoods leaders. If we are not “one” the Lord will not bless us.
I have followed closely the missionary program since 1978 in Europe (Norway, Sweden, UK, Italy and Denmark). And in my opinion – this is the reason that members in Europe don’t have confidents in the program, they have seen way to many inactive investigators become inactive members. I hope we can be “one” – and this is a good chance to do just that.

Mike Johnson said...

Good draft. Some comments:

1. Could you add some charts to illustrate the trends you cite?

2. As for the maturity level, I would submit that a 20-year-old missionary with 12 months of service will usually have a lot more maturity than a 20-year-old greenie. Missions mature young missionaries at an accelerated rate. Very few organization would rely heavily on a staff of 21-year-olds or younger. But, it is working.

3. One of the biggest benefits, I think, will be that more missionaries will eventually mean more returned missionaries and more local leadership in the future.

4. There are more than 350,000 seminary students or almost 90,000 in each class. If half are male and all went on missions, there would 90,000 young elders in the field. There is room to grow. I agree that we will see a lot more sisters in the mission field. Even after the initial bump normalizes for the long term, with the gap between high school and missions narrowed there will be more missionaries than now. If more sister missionaries are seen in wards, more young women will be motivated to go.

5. I would put Elder Nelson first as he was clearly presiding at the press conference. He is the Chairman of the Missionary Executive Council and Elder Holland is a member of the council. Also, you might want to site Elder Evans, the Executive Director of the Missionary Department as well.

6. If we can't get enough visas, that would be a boon for people in the Eastern US or other areas where the LDS population is a tiny minority. There are an awful lot of wards here in Virginia that are praying for sisters to be added to the elders in the ward.

Matt said...

Thanks for your comments! I will include graphs and tables when we post it on the website.

Eduardo said...

Very interesting projections. On a personal note, I remember finishing my mission in 1991 and thinking what an honor it would be to be called as a missionary president (and wife, of course). The only calling I have aspired to. My dream then was Cuba, since it was an island, Spanish speaking and closed off due to politics. While reading this article with the estimated increase in missions, from a total of 383 all the way up to 617 by 2017, I felt that maybe I would be needed! After making it into my 40s and staying worthy and active with languages, I thought maybe this would be the time. But then I thought: I am not independently wealthy, I still have small kids, and there are probably 10 guys or more in my ward alone older, more prepared and better qualified to go as Mission Prez. But, at least I can still feel excited for all those new missionary couples presiding around the world, and hopefully I will know a few. 617 missions would almost double the current number; a great thing. I love seeing the expansion of the faith in action, creating new stakes and missions and temples. Thanks for documenting the growth and change. To me, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is growth and change, both individual and collective.
Carry on, youth of the noble birthright. Carry on.
And I can still go full time again when I am 62 or so. We shall see.
And lastly: a few church guys, like Seminary teachers, are called to go pretty young. It can happen to the young ones, too. If not me, let it be many others.

Matthias said...

Wouldn't increased longevity also be a cause of the increasing member to missionary ratio? In the 70s there were a lot fewer people above the age of 70 or 80 as a percentage of church membership, so they may be watering down the ratio, no?

Jeff said...

I found this to be a very interesting and well researched case study - thanks Matt.

I don’t want to cast a negative tone to this, but, I wonder if religious trends in America are affecting the LDS Church. A recent Pew Research study showed that the number of Americans unaffiliated with any religion increased from 15% to 20% since 2007. Among people under 30-years-old the unaffiliated rate is 32%.

Do you feel this trend may bleed over to the LDS church?

In your study you noted that as of 2007 thirty percent of all 19-year-old males served a mission and over 80% of young men in active LDS families have served a mission. Is this trend holding up?


Christopher Nicholson said...

Yes Jeff, I'm afraid that trend has bled over. Marlin K. Jensen spoke at Utah State University late last year and mentioned that the Church is having a period of apostasy like never before since the Kirtland bank failure. Many of the people leaving or going inactive are the rising generation who encounter things on the internet about church history that they've never heard before, and then feel like they've been lied to by the Church. The new Sunday School curriculum is designed in part to help with that issue. I believe retention and reactivation of young people was also the main motivator for the recent development of YSA wards and stakes.

Anonymous said...

Just looking at Provo's craiglist for apartment room shares, the vast majority now are women right now looking to leave their leases to go on missions.

soc. man I am ---------------- said...

The missionaries in our mission had a conference with a GA this last weekend. A lot of questions regarding the missionary changes were asked. our missionaries this sunday explained that The GA informed them that there will be new missions created - but not many. The church is expecting a 2-4 year bubble and then the numbers will fall back to the new normal which will be 7,000 - 10,000 more than now. Many of the existing missions plus the addition of a few will handle the load. Many of the missions who don't have enough sisters will now get them.

Matt said...

I believe that the Church will create several dozen new missions next year to accommodate increases in the number of missionaries. Senior missionaries in Africa report that Elder Holland told members in a stake conference yesterday that there would be 30 to 40 new missions created next year. Elder Holland also reportedly informed members that the 3,000th stake will be created on November 19th.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Also in this most recent report, Elder Holland lowered the expected number of missionaries serving a year from now from 90,000 to somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000.

Mike Johnson said...

"Elder Holland also reportedly informed members that the 3,000th stake will be created on November 19th."

That would mean 8 stakes created this weekend.

Jeff said...

Hi Matt. Any data/info on how this change might affect college attendance, for LDS young men in particular? It may prove difficult to defer admission and/or scholarships for young men who go into the mission field straight out of high school, especially for those who plan to attend non-LDS universities.

Martin said...

I think the concecuences of this should the thought of carefully and also analize the situation of the young members living on buenos aires apartments