Friday, October 4, 2013

Church Releases Limited Demographic Data on Full-time Missionary Force

Yesterday the Church published an article providing information on the number of young men, young women, and seniors serving full-time missions for October 2012 and September 2013.

The Church currently reports 79,800 full-time missionaries serving worldwide; 21,100 more than a year earlier (36% increase).  Young elder missionaries number 54,200 (68%) whereas young sister missionaries total 19,300 (24%).  Senior missionaries number 6,300 (8%).  In October 2012, there were 58,700 missionaries serving including 44,800 young men (76%), 8,100 young women (14%), and 5,800 seniors (10%).

The percentage increase in young women serving missions is particularly impressive (140%).  To contrast, the number of young men serving missions increased by only 21% whereas the percentage of seniors serving missions increased by 8%.  Prior to the announcement adjusting the minimum age for missionary service, the percentage of young women comprising the full-time missionary force appeared constant for several years as in 2007 the Church reported that sisters comprised 13% of the worldwide missionary force compared to 14% in 2012.

It is important to note that the Church has also experienced a significant increase in the number of seniors serving full-time missions over the past year (8%) notwithstanding no "age adjustment" or other change in church policy that would explain a sudden increase in this missionary demographic.  The Church has recently (2011) made missions more flexible for seniors to accommodate their unique needs and living situations.  The implementation of this policy may have contributed to some of the recent increase in the number of senior missionaries serving.

The current number of missionaries serving is less than I originally predicted for the one year anniversary of the adjusted mission age announcement.  In an article for, I predicted that there may be as many as 89,000 missionaries serving by October 2013 "due to a net increase of 31,000 missionaries (15,000 missionaries from lowering the mission age for men, 7,500 missionaries from lowering the mission age for women, 5,000 from hypothetically increasing the percentage of single men in North America who serve a mission by five percent, and 3,500 missionaries from the Church perpetuating its six percent annual growth rate for the number of missionaries serving that has occurred over the past two years independent of lowering mission ages)."  It appears that the Church has not reached 89,000 missionaries at the one-year anniversary primarily due to a smaller-than-expected increase for young men serving missions worldwide.


Michael Worley said...

I think we'll keep growing the size of the missionary force, at least through September of next year. This is good because it will give time for the Ward Councils to get in gear and help fellowship investigators better.

Christopher Nicholson said...

I always figured that the announcement was more for the women than the men anyway. It was a much more significant change for them and opened up the possibility for thousands who otherwise would have been too busy with school or whatever by age 21.

Another factor in the increase of senior missionaries, I think, is just the overall revitalized enthusiasm for missionary work sparked by the announcement. They're "catching the wave", as Elder Nelson would say.

I think it's good that the surge is happening a bit slower than expected, because the MTC is already having trouble handling it. And maybe this will give leaders more time to strategize their placement and avoid oversaturating certain locations.

Matthias said...

Anecdotally, a decent number of young men are going ahead and doing a year of school first. I think if you compare it to the proportion of young men before the change who turned 19 shortly after high school but did a year of college anyway, the percentages are pretty similar.

And really, if you were a young man who was somewhat marginal to get into BYU, U of U, USU, etc., wouldn't this have been the perfect year to apply?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thinking about my own personal situation growing up in California in a high school with few members of the church, and based on my outlook, financial ability, etc., I think if 18 was the earliest, I think I would have attended college for one semester after high school instead of two, resulting in my leaving about 4 months before my 19th birthday, instead of a few months after my 19th birthday.

In Queens, where I live, the church is still relatively young, and the sense with guys is that they can go "early" ie: before 19, if they are ready and have the money. However, many don't have the money and with many being 2nd generation Americans, many are delayed in school by a year. I think net net, in Queens NY, the mission age change will mean guys leave about 3 months earlier than before with a few going that otherwise wouldn't have, and puts many many more girls in the position to go, probably at about 19-20 yrs old. In a few years, my guess is that in Queens and elsewhere, people will be leaving closer to 18(men) and 19(women) than they are now since, beginning mission preparation earlier.

Mike Johnson said...

I note that the Church has started online seminary. It is in its infancy, but this offers another option for young people.

From the Church News:
"For online seminary, we have a little more than 250 classes primarily offered in the U.S., Canada, England and Australia," Brother Haws said. "We have a total of about 320 teachers and presently 3,200 students."

Mike Johnson said...

The Lakeside Ward, Saratoga Springs Utah Stake, was created on 29 September. There are now 10 wards in the stake:

Lakeside Ward
Saratoga Hills 1st Ward
Saratoga Hills 2nd Ward
Saratoga Hills 3rd Ward
Saratoga Hills 4th Ward
Saratoga Springs 1st Ward
Saratoga Springs 2nd Ward
Saratoga Springs 3rd Ward
Saratoga Springs 4th Ward
Saratoga Springs 5th Ward

The Meridian Ward, Lansing Michigan Stake, was created on 29 September. There are now 7 wards and 4 branches in the stake:

East Lansing University Ward (Student)
Holt Ward
Jackson Ward
Lansing Ward
Meridian Ward
Owosso Ward
Williamston Ward
Charlotte Branch
Jonesville Branch
Portland Branch
St Johns Branch

The Divinópolis Brazil District, Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission, was created on 29 September. There are 4 branches in the district:

Divinópolis 1st Branch
Divinópolis 2nd Branch
Itaúna Branch
Pará de Minas Branch

(Note, the Divinópolis 1st and 2nd branches were downgraded from wards).

The Joinville 2nd Ward, Joinville Brazil Stake, was created on 29 September. There are now 10 wards and 3 branches in the stake:

Boa Vista Ward
Fátima Ward
Guaratuba Ward
Iririú Ward
Itaum Ward
Itinga Ward
Jaraguá do Sul Ward
Joinville 1st Ward
Joinville 2nd Ward
Vila Nova Ward
Itapoá Branch
São Bento do Sul Branch
São Francisco do Sul Branch

Mike Johnson said...

No temples announced in President Monson's opening address

Ed Clinch said...

At the stake center where I play basketball which houses 3 wards, I have seen an increase of missionaries from what it used to be (posted on the hallway map), and it seems to have more sisters.
This is following the world wide trend. It is exciting to see elders and sisters serve that would not otherwise go.

Will this translate to more longer term activity of these individuals?

John Pack Lambert said...

It is possible that we over-emphasized the amount what for many was just a change of a few months would mean.

On the other hand, I know some people who have their mission calls but will not be leaving for several months, so it is possible they are staggering calls to avoid being overwhelemed by the surge.

I know other young men who still decided to do a year of college before leaving. I could have easily left on my mission 5 months sooner if I decided to only do a semester of college, so there may be more young men still choosing that course than initially expected.

John Pack Lambert said...

Since Elders serve 6 months longer than sisters, the current figures probably mean close to a third of missionaries now going out are sisters, actually a bit more, since half the elders and a third of sisters are still pre-announcement (OK, actually, more like a fifth or less of sisters because of group size changes).

Whizzbang said...

In the Winnipeg Mission they send home almost as many missionaries as the stake has baptized in 2013. One elder going home in a few weeks said that when he first came out the mentality in the mission was senior high schoolish and now it's dwindled down to junior high. They are sending WAY too many missionaries here, we love having the ones that stick it out but why they are sending as many here is a mystery. It seems that the amount of missionaries has gone up but baptisms are way down

Shelama said...

Someplace within the last year or so, either here or on or elsewhere, there was a post that reported how many thousands of dollars the Church effectively spent for a single convert who was still active at one year.

As I recall, it was something like $6-7000 dollars and it was significantly higher than what, for instance, the SDA's or the JW's were spending.

Wherever Matt posted that report, is it still up and available and is there a link?