With Saturday's historic announcement reducing the minimum age for missionary service to 18 for men and 19 for women, there is a high likelihood of the Church experiencing a significant increase in the number of members serving missions within just a matter of months. This increase appears likely due to a higher percentage of women considering full-time missionary service prior to marriage and educational pursuits, perhaps an increased percentage of men serving missions as fewer become inactive or disqualify themselves from full-time missionary service following high school graduation and before reaching the previously appointed mission age of 19, and a renewed excitement and enthusiasm among many in the Church to serve full-time missions. Over the past two years, the Church has already reversed its decade-long trend of declining or stagnant numbers of full-time missionaries serving as the full-time missionary force has increased by approximately 6,000. The big question for church growth researchers is how will this recent increase and anticipated swell in the missionary force affect the number of converts baptized worldwide, convert retention rates, the ratio of convert baptisms to missionaries serving, the opening of additional cities to missionary work, the organization of new missions, and the opening of additional countries to proselytism?
I am currently in the process of writing a case study for cumorah.com examining the potential for church growth within the next five years as a result of this change in church policy. Please provide your thoughts, predictions, concerns, and analysis under the comments section below.