Thursday, April 18, 2013

Recently Completed Case Study Essays (October 2012 - April 2013)

It's been a while since I have provided an update on recently completed case study essays.  See below for some interesting topics that I have researched and written about within the past six months.  We will be categorizing these on to make navigation easier as we have now posted over 100 case studies.


Mike Johnson said...

Matt, I appreciate all the work you go into to producing these case studies. Having just skimmed several, I find them to be fascinating.

While not to detract from the information found in these studies, I did want to point out that the LDS Church operates somewhat differently than others. In particular, I am thinking of the case study between our Church and the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.

We have a four-fold mission. JWs essentially have just one of those 4. They have missionary work, but they have nothing like perfecting the saints, redeeming the dead, or helping the poor and needy.

They have three primary levels--global, branch (98 world wide, generally covering 1 country), and congregation. The US Branch also serves as the global leadership.

There are three intermediate levels--zone (about 30 worldwide consisting of several branches), district (about 400), and circuit (about 4000). These are staffed by a single traveling representative.

Membership numbers for JWs count "publishers." Publishers are anybody whether baptized or not, who spend at least 1 hour a month in missionary work. The hours in missionary work is what congregations report up the chain--number of publishers and the total hours spent publishing. Anybody else in a JW congregation is an associate, whether they are baptized or not.

If your ward were a JW congregation, it wouldn't be a ward, but rather a fairly small branch. They don't allow congregations to get too large because missionary work suffers when that happens--people start falling through the cracks. The primary leadership in the congregation can be equated to the branch mission leader.

As for making converts, there aren't a required set of discussions. No commitment to obey the (1) law of chastity, (2) law of tithing, (3) word of wisdom, or (4) law of the sabbath. (The big 4 stumbling blocks as I remember from my mission--getting investigators passed those 4 made a big deal of difference. Get an unbaptized person to spend an hour on missionary work and the number of publishers--the only membership stat published--goes up. Baptism is a public expression often after spending a lot of time in missionary work and for males automatically makes them a ministerial servant and eligible to become and elder. But, it doesn't directly impact reported membership.

There is no home teaching, no family history work, no temple attendance, no paying fast offerings or helping the poor and needy. If we had to spend 1 hour a month to retain membership (encouraged to do a lot more) in missionary work, with no other Church requirements outside of the actual church meeting, we might grow faster as well. The Sunday School lesson would be spent on studying the latest issue of the Watch Tower.

Mike Johnson said...

(I am simply too long winded for the 4096 character rule ;>) )

But, we focus on serving others and trying to live a consecrated life and donate generously to the church.

Now, if we were like the JWs, our interaction with the stake (circuit in JW parlance) would be with the circuit supervisor--a paid full time position selected either by the branch or the general level (usually by the branch initially and eventually made permanent by the general level)--would visit the congregation twice a year spending a full week on the visit. He would go through all the financial and missionary work records in detail and speak in church. Each has about 20 congregations, so about 40 weeks out of the year are taken up with the these congregation inspections. Congregations that are growing and doing missionary work get favorable reviews and those otherwise do not.

The district supervisors meets with each of his 10 or so circuit supervisors several times a year, collecting the report data and forwarding recommendations to the branch and passing on branch and general decisions to the congregation.

Branches are led by a committee of 3 or more elders appointed by the general committee. They are supported by a large staff, processing the reports and developing improved missionary tactics.

There are 30 zone supervisors who inspect the branch headquarters.

It is a relatively simple organization designed to maximize missionary work.

I like to think that our Church is preparing for the return of the Savior. We do proselytize to increase members, but we also do repeated things designed to enable us to receive the benefits of the Atonement and thus comfort and move us ever closer to the standard of "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." This happens through long and faithful service.

Our ideal congregation size for the four-fold mission is a ward. It may not be ideal if one focuses only on missionary work. Our ideal is also to be part of a stake--an integrated body, which in my opinion serves more as the equivalent of a very large or mega church for us than as a "diocese" as is often mentioned. We can be part of both a very large church and a small or medium-sized church at the same time.

I think we need to keep in mind these differences when comparing membership growth. That said, I do think there is an important lesson from this case study in Russia and that is we gave up when the revolution of 1917 occurred. The JWs continued to try throughout the period and while that was done at significant sacrifice, it did pay dividends when the ability to proselytize opened up to the extent it did.

Mike Johnson said...

One thing more I have been thinking about when it comes to comparing our Church with how other churches work, is what do we call a congregation.

For us, it is simple. A congregation is a ward or a branch and there are 29,000 of them worldwide. But, it gets a little more complicated that that. There are different types of branches:

(1) branches in stakes or missions/districts that count as congregations.

(2) administrative branches that are a parent to one or more groups. I have seen Area, Mission, and District administrative branches. Administrative branches count as congregations.

(3) dependent branches, which are formed inside wards or other branches. These largely function as a congregation, but import their leadership. They do not count as congregations and stats are collected on dependent branches. Members of dependent branches are counted as members of the parent ward or branch.

Also, there are congregations called groups. There are military groups on many Navy ships for example. Group leaders, who need not be Melchizedek Priesthood holders, are called and set apart by stake presidents. There are also groups inside the Area, Mission, or District administrative branches. There aren't published statistics on the number of groups.

Now compare Catholics. A congregation is counted as a parish or a mission. Parishes range from the size of a small LDS branch to many times the size of stakes. About 3000 US Catholic parishes average 2000 or more in attendance at weekend services. Some parishes have 6 or 7 such services Saturday evening or Sunday. A mission is part of parish, often an additional site where services occur when they can--say monthly when a priest is available. I would think a mission would be more like an LDS dependent branch--part of the larger congregation. But, the Association of Religious Data Archives, counts each mission as a congregation.

I wonder how many groups and dependent branches there are out there. Most churches seem to count their counterparts as congregations.

Mike Johnson said...

In addition to the 10 (if I recall correctly) wards and branches created on 14 April that I posted earlier, I have now learned about 3 more.

The Grand Forks 2nd Ward, Fargo North Dakota Stake was created on 14 April. There are now 6 wards and 7 branches in the stake:

Aberdeen Ward
Bemidji Ward
Fargo 1st Ward
Fargo 2nd Ward
Grand Forks 1st Ward
Grand Forks 2nd Ward
Clearbrook Branch
Detroit Lakes Branch
Fargo YSA Branch
Jamestown Branch
Lake Region Branch
Sisseton Branch
Wahpeton Branch

The Ibara Branch, Abeokuta Nigeria District, Nigeria Lagos Mission, was created on 14 April. There are now 8 branches in the district:

Abeokuta 1st Branch
Abeokuta 3rd Branch
Ibara Branch
Idi Aba Branch
Ilewo-Orile Branch
Kuto Branch
Obantoko Branch
Odeda Branch

The Cardston YSA Branch, Cardston Alberta Stake was created on 14 April. There are now 6 wards and 3 branches in the stake:

Aetna Ward
Cardston 4th Ward
Cardston 6th Ward
Cardston 7th Ward
Glenwood Ward
Hill Spring Ward
Cardston YSA Branch
Kainai Branch
Lee Crest (Care Center) Branch

Matt said...

As a RM who served in Japan, I now tweet for the Church in Japanese as part of the missionary efforts. The new website in Japanese is helping. But for the Japanese people in general, since all they see are American Missionaries riding their mountain bikes, they assume all Mormons live like this -- fun-less, weird, austere lifestyle with a bunch meaningless "rules".

That don't understand that Mormons live regular normal lives. But do know, there is increased awareness and openness to learning more things about the Church in Japan, which will translate to more baptisms.

On a side note, the Church in Japan should also address about how to have better intercommunication skills and emotional health. It seems a lot of investigators and church members in Japan get easily offended, assume the wrong things, don't know how to resolve conflicts or concerns, and/or fail to reach out and support each other. So people go inactive not because of lack of testimony, it's because of lack of belonging.

Mike Johnson said...

I have learned of another congregation making 14 this past Sunday.

The Waterloo Branch, Freetown Sierra Leone East District, Sierra Leone Freetown Mission was created on 14 April. There are now 8 branches in the district:

Grafton Branch
Kissy 1st Branch
Kissy 2nd Branch
Kossoh Town Branch
Thunderhill Branch
Waterloo Branch
Wellington 1st Branch
Wellington 2nd Branch

Yoshi! said...

These are great case studies. I've also noticed that the Church recently announced that seminary enrollment has reached an all-time high. They say that the increase in enrollment last year was more than other years; any reasons as to why?

Ray said...

Mike, 14 new units created on Apr. 14! This must be a record for one day, or at least the most in one day for many, many years. Great news, and thanks for sharing this with all of us.

Mike Johnson said...

Seminary change sorted by increase:

Location Increase 2012 2013
Mexico 4244 24055 28299
Tonga 1616 650 2266
Peru 1092 16877 17969
Samoa 685 1755 2440
Guatemala 641 6094 6735
Colombia 590 3462 4052
Ivory Coast (Cote d’lvoire) 426 548 974
New Zealand 385 1978 2363
Fiji 321 285 606
Argentina 301 6202 6503
Kiribati 281 84 365
Ghana 207 2304 2511
Paraguay 206 1612 1818
Other 206 97 303
Mozambique 192 63 255
Zimbabwe 183 827 1010
Honduras 175 4389 4564
Nicaragua 150 1773 1923
Ukraine 136 141 277
Ecuador 132 4089 4221
Marshall Islands 128 0 128
El Salvador 126 2523 2649
Liberia 120 214 334
Congo, Dem. Rep of 119 1824 1943
Venezuela 98 3826 3924
Costa Rica 95 822 917
Taiwan 93 613 706
Russia 77 233 310
Dominican Republic 74 2304 2378
Cambodia 72 214 286
Panama 61 1110 1171
India 53 322 375
Kenya 50 546 596
American Samoa 49 727 776
Uganda 47 148 195
Brazil 42 22613 22655
French Polynesia 41 954 995
Madagascar 38 417 455
Italy 36 413 449
Hong Kong 33 248 281
Zambia 32 132 164
Togo 31 135 166
Thailand 29 199 228
Congo, Republic of 26 271 297
Spain 26 815 841
Jamaica 25 107 132
Ireland 20 52 72
Benin 15 53 68
Cape Verde 15 209 224
St. Lucia 14 0 14
Burundi 13 0 13
France 12 474 486
Puerto Rico 12 198 210
Croatia 11 1 12
Lesotho 11 28 39
Albania 9 36 45
Botswana 9 41 50
Trinidad & Tobago 9 60 69
Mauritius 8 5 13
Netherlands 8 123 131
Portugal 8 280 288
Aruba 7 0 7
Romania 6 21 27
Swaziland 6 36 42
Tanzania 6 13 19
Denmark 5 106 111
Turkey 5 0 5
New Caledonia 4 35 39
Vanuatu 4 164 168
Cyprus 3 0 3
Czech Republic 3 19 22
Guadeloupe 3 14 17
Kazakhstan 3 9 12
Malawi 3 18 21
Moldova 3 0 3
Antigua and Barbuda 2 13 15
Cameroon 2 72 74
Luxembourg 2 2 4
Northern Ireland 2 49 51
St. Croix 2 5 7
Sweden 2 197 199
Switzerland 2 225 227
Bonaire 1 2 3
Curacao 1 5 6
Niue 1 4 5
Norway 1 117 118
St. Kitts & Nevis 1 6 7
Belgium 0 99 99
Finland 0 194 194
Iceland 0 7 7
Papua New Guinea 0 268 268
Slovenia 0 4 4
Barbados -1 13 12
Central African Rep. -1 15 14
Greece -1 2 1
Grenada -1 6 5
Indonesia -1 151 150
Martinique -1 4 3
St. Maartin -1 7 6
St. Thomas -1 3 2
Cook Islands -2 38 36
Dominica -2 2 0
Bulgaria -3 9 6
St. Vincent & Grenandines -4 15 11
Suriname -4 32 28
Scotland -5 156 151
Belize -6 96 90
French Guiana -6 6 0
Lithuania -6 13 7
Namibia -6 40 34
Poland -6 8 2
Serbia and Montenegro -6 6 0
Singapore -6 97 91
Wales -6 88 82
Austria -7 105 98
Japan -7 1540 1533
Hungary -8 55 47
Latvia -8 18 10
Reunion -8 25 17
Armenia -9 65 56
Estonia -10 20 10
Ethiopia -10 48 38
Guam -18 271 253
England -19 1794 1775
Sri Lanka -23 23 0
Uruguay -23 1407 1384
Korea, Rep. of (South Korea) -27 969 942
Guyana -32 166 134
Haiti -46 287 241
Germany -60 812 752
Malaysia -68 289 221
Australia -70 3085 3015
Nigeria -77 3192 3115
South Africa -87 1664 1577
Sierra Leone -120 735 615
Canada -127 4617 4490
Mongolia -158 493 335
Bolivia -167 5542 5375
Chile -181 7299 7118
Micronesia -214 214 0
Philippines -1110 17901 16791

Utah 1728 86069 87797
Michigan 635 919 1554
Arizona 551 13673 14224
Texas 419 7486 7905
California 345 17831 18176
Idaho 327 16974 17301
Colorado 166 4207 4373
Wyoming 140 1977 2117
North Carolina 136 1708 1844
Virginia 126 2373 2499
Washington 113 7934 8047
Missouri 100 1887 1987
Maryland 61 757 818
Nebraska 48 384 432
Pennsylvania 48 915 963
Minnesota 42 909 951
Nevada 41 5489 5530
New York 41 1163 1204
Montana 30 1160 1190
Arkansas 27 527 554
Alaska 25 967 992
North Dakota 25 144 169
Alabama 22 602 624
Oregon 19 4206 4225
Massachusetts 18 370 388
Louisiana 17 345 362
Oklahoma 13 801 814
Indiana 11 1015 1026
Tennessee 11 1085 1096
Mississippi 6 269 275
Rhode Island 6 93 99
Delaware 5 122 127
Kansas 4 740 744
Vermont 4 79 83
Florida 3 2430 2433
Georgia 2 2018 2020
South Dakota -2 165 163
Connecticut -3 216 213
Kentucky -4 552 548
West Virginia -6 281 275
District of Columbia -8 134 126
Illinois -9 1322 1313
New Mexico -11 1355 1344
Maine -17 196 179
Wisconsin -19 579 560
Iowa -21 630 609
Hawaii -22 1732 1710
New Jersey -25 443 418
New Hampshire -28 332 304
South Carolina -39 573 534
Ohio -84 1529 1445

Mike Johnson said...

Somebody asked somewhere about why seminary grew why it did. I just posted data from this years and last years reports by country and state.

2/3 of the growth was from outside the US.

Location Increase 2012 2013
World Wide 16291 375389 391680

Outside United States 11274 175722 186996
United States 5017 199667 204684

The following were also listed in this years report, but had 0 seminary students (and if listed last year, also had 0).

Northern Mariana Islands
Cayman Islands
Solomon Islands

Ricky said...

Matt, thanks for your fine work here.

I have a couple corrections to suggest for "LDS Outreach among the Nivacle Amerindians in Paraguay". Should I email them to you directly?

Ricky Loynd

James Anderson said...

A 'Grand Forks 2nd Ward' has existed off and on for years. This is simply a recreation of the ward that has existed in the past.

I knew of a Grand Forks 2nd Ward since the mid-80s as the zone leaders were stationed there for that area.

I was part of the effort that would lead to the 2nd Ward in Fargo, the 'Lake Regions' branch (Fergus Falls), and the Wahpeton Branch.

One thing about Fargo North Dakota Stake is there may not be a second stake anytime soon, it's more than 50 miles usually between localities mentioned. Some may be slightly closer to each other, but by and large the smaller places are quite distant from the central cities. Fargo's stake president for some time was all out of one ward, and the high council was largely from that same ward, right in Fargo.

In 1985 or so, rumor had it they were contemplating forming a Fargo 2nd Ward, but that was about the time the family that produced the 80s pop music success, 'The Jets', moved out. That was what was going around about it when I got there.

Matt said...


If you could email me those corrections/feedback for that case study that would be great.

Ricky said...

Matt, what's your email address?


Matt said...

John Pack Lambert said...

Matt, I think your point shows why we need the "I am a Mormon" campaign to do country specific higlights, which they may have already started. People need to see there are Japanese Mormons living regular lives, the same with British, Australian and so on. I know the missionaries here in Michigan have at times encoraged me not to dress formally when I go with them to teach someone, because they want the investigators to see that members do not always have to wear formal clothing. I wish we had focused on bringing members not formally dressed with us to our apointments more when I was on my mission.

John Pack Lambert said...

Unless some of the branches in the Fargo stake are close to being wards, or they can create a few more units, they probably won't split the Fargo Stake at present. With only 6 wards, the new stakes would average only 3 wards, and even with 3 or 4 branches added on that would be extremely small.

Mike Johnson said...

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) (

and looking at the counties in North Dakota and Minnesota for the units of the Fargo North Dakota Stake, the Church reported that the congregation affiliated membership for the stake as of December 2010 of
4,253. Unless that number has dramatically changed, the Fargo Stake isn't close to splitting.

Fargo 1st and 2nd wards, YSA Branch Cass County, North Dakota (3 congregations, 1,162 adherents)

Grand Forks Ward Grand Forks County, North Dakota (1 congregation, 970 adherents) (Now split into 1st and 2nd wards).

Bemidji Ward Beltrami County, Minnesota (1 congregation, 575 adherents)
Aberdeen Ward Brown County, South Dakota (1 congregation, 395 adherents)
Jamestown Branch Stutsman County, North Dakota (1 congregation, 292 adherents)
Detroit Lakes Branch Becker County, Minnesota (1 congregation, 217 adherents)
Clearbrook Branch Clearwater County, Minnesota (1 congregation, 215 adherents)
Sisseton Branch Roberts County, South Dakota (1 congregation, 157 adherents)
Wahpeton Branch Richland County, North Dakota (1 congregation, 143 adherents)
Lake Region Branch Ramsey County, North Dakota (1 congregation, 127 adherents)

Ray said...

Mike, don't forget the incredible growth in ND since those figures from 2010. I'm thinking that the state has added 20% in membership since then (ND has grown to 1.3% LDS, a big jump in recent years).

This is due to the big oil boom, and, granted, most of the growth is around Williston, but I'm sure the state has seen growth just about everywhere, with unemployment under 3% and surging immigration to cash in on the local economy.

I like the website a lot. One warning: the 2000 figures are not reliable for some reason, but 1980, 1990, and 2010 are pretty accurate.

You also have to realize that if a meetinghouse is on the edge of a county line and has members from both counties, the entire membership for that branch or ward will be credited to the county where the chapel is located. But I agree it's a great resource. I like the metropolitan area application also.

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, Ray.

I do wonder how much growth has occurred in North Dakota membership.

I think the issue isn't so much with 2000 numbers in ARDA, but that definitions of what is counted as an adherent changed between 2000 and 2010, thus the warnings about comparing 2010 with previous reports. The Catholic church for example shows a significant loss in adherents during the decade, while the LDS church shows significant gain, but both cases are significantly influences by the changes incorporated before 2010.

ARDA documents significant changes in how both the LDS and Catholic church reporting occurred, making both more consistent with the protestant entries.

Yes, I am aware of how they count--congregations are assigned to a county and all adherents of the congregation assigned to a county. That creates issues in some places, like Fredericksburg, VA, where the total number of adherents of Fredericksburg is far above the population of Fredericksburg, because people go into the independent city from the surrounding counties to go to church.

I have found several places where a ward or branch is found in each of 2 or more adjacent counties, but they meet in a single building in one county, resulting in ARDA reporting two (or more) LDS congregations in one county and none in the other(s).

It isn't clear to me the best way to count congregations. Matt would count them by name of the congregation, regardless of whether they actually meet in the community (or for that matter include very much of the community), while ARDA focuses on where the congregation meets (where the local church is located). Two approaches, but I can work with each.

I love data both personally and professionally. I'll take the data and strife to understand how it was generated. ARDA is a great source of data, but it is limited to once a decade. And I still don't know what is counted in terms of clergy for the LDS Church (members of bishoprics or missionaries or church service missionaries all of which could conceivably match the given number in the US).

Mike Johnson said...

My own stake has some issues in ARDA.

In December 2010, there were 3 wards in Spotsylvania County and 6 wards and 2 branches meeting in Stafford County. One of the wards meeting in Stafford County then, the Fredericksburg Ward, was entirely from south of the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg and in surrounding areas of Spotsylvania County, but they met in the stake center north of the river in Stafford County. So, by the ARDA rules there should have been 3 congregations in Spotsylvania County and 8 in Stafford County. If Fredericksburg Ward were considered to be part of Spotsylvania County--where most of the ward members live--than it should be 4 in Spotsylvania and 7 in Stafford.

But, ARDA lists 5 Congregations and 2,513 adherents in Spotsylvania County and 6 Congregations and 1,937 adherents in Stafford County. We moved into Stafford County in August 2010, so we are among the adherents in Stafford in the 2010. The sum of 11 Congregations between the two counties was correct, but the mix is not. So, I am not sure which wards/branches are included in each county. Two of the wards/branches meeting in Stafford are for some reason listed in Spotsylvania. One might be the Fredericksburg Ward, but that was one of three meeting in the stake center at the time (as well as now). And ARDA's most fine detail is by county (they also do state and metro area, but both are made up of counties). So, I can only assume 11 congregations with 4450 adherents at the time in Stafford and Spotsylvania combined.

Mike Johnson said...

7 North Dakota counties grew by more than 10% between 2010 and 2012. All are in the far western part of the state. 3 others grew by around 7%, 2 along the western boundary and one in the center.

The county in the Fargo stake that grew the fastest between 2010 and 2012 is Cass County (with Fargo itself) at 3.9% increase. I took the percentage increase from 2010 to 2012 for all the counties with congregations in the stake and assumed the LDS population changed equally with the county population:

This changes the LDS population from 4253 in December 2010 to 4326 if the LDS population grew proportionately with the counties. While the rest of the counties showed small increases in population, Stutsman and Richland, both in North Dakota, showed slight population declines.

In other words, the eastern part of the state is not where North Dakota has been growing. The population has been growing rapidly in just about all the counties in the western part of North Dakota.