Saturday, April 4, 2015

2014 Statistical Report

This afternoon, the Church reported the following statistics as of December 31st, 2014.

  • Membership: 15,372,337 (increase of 290,309 from 2013; a 1.92% annual increase)
  • Congregations: 29,621 (increase of 368 from 2013; a 1.26% annual increase)
  • Stakes: 3,114 (increase of 64 from 2013; a 2.10% annual increase)
  • Districts: 561 (a decrease of 10 from 2013; a 1.78% annual decrease)
  • Convert Baptisms: 296,803 (increase of 13,858 from 2013; a 4.90% annual increase)
  • Increase of Children on Record: 116,409 (increase of 923 from 2013; a 0.80% annual increase)
  • Full-time missionaries: 85,147 (increase of 2,112 from 2013; a 2.54% annual increase)
  • Church service missionaries: 30,404 (increase of 6,372 from 2013; a 26.5% annual increase)
The significant increase in the number of church service missionaries constitutes the greatest growth development within 2014 as evidenced by an annual increase of 26.5%. It is unclear what has fueled this growth, but larger numbers of North American Latter-day Saints reaching retirement age and desiring to serve church-service missions from their homes may be a source for this unexpected increase. The trend in decreasing the discrepancy between membership and congregational growth rates continued in 2014. This suggests higher convert retention rates and possible improvements in member activity rates in some areas of the world. However, the number of convert baptisms remained disappointingly low compared to the number of missionaries serving for 2014. The average number of converts baptized per missionary inched upward from 3.4 converts baptized per missionary in 2013 to 3.5 converts baptized per missionary in 2014.

There were several indicators that "real growth" accelerated in 2014. The net increase for the number of stakes was the highest the Church has experienced in 16 years and the net increase for the number of congregations was the highest the Church has reported in eight years. The Church also set a new record for the most members serving full-time missions and church service missions.

Another interesting finding with the 2014 statistical report was that the Church set a new all-time record for the largest increase in the number of members added to its records within a single year (413,212). However, the Church also set a new record for the largest difference between the number of members added to its records and the net increase in membership for the year (112,903). In other words, the number of children added to church records and the number of converts baptized during 2014 was 112,903 shy of the net increase of these two statistics. This suggests that there were a significant number of individuals removed from church records during the year. Most of these removals were likely due to renewed efforts in many areas of the world to update local membership records.


Adam said...

Here are some of my thoughts:

1) With Quentin L Cook saying that there are less people removing themselves from records and getting excommunicated than in years past, it does mean that they are likely cleaning up records. Yes baby boomers are going to be passing away at a higher rate and will be contributing to the number of removed records, but the number is much too high to attribute it to strictly that. It wouldn't surprise me if the church likely does some form of (as they say in accounting) "income smoothing." Example, if a company’s stock had 10% growth one year, than -2% the next, than 10%, etc., they would much rather smooth it out to 4% per year, and often pay off debts, etc. in good years to smooth it out and have nice consistent growth. (See McDonalds stock before 2012 or GE under Jack Welch, income smoothing helps attract investors even though both situations technically have the same returns.) The membership increase which has been steady while the removed records looking erratic as listed below makes me think they gotta be doing something along those lines, though I’m not sure why the church would care what the public would think and hence attempt ways to smooth it out.

Year Membership+ Removed Records
2014 290,309 122,903
2013 299,555 98,876
2012 341,127 53,476
2011 309,879 91,350

So while 2012 was just a weird year, 2014 looks like it was smoother. It is by far the largest ever removed, considering 2013 was the largest before this year. I would expect the church growth to continue to increase between 280k to 330k for a while longer as they sift out those that have been sitting in databases for decades.

2) We often look at baptisms per missionary, but I don’t like that statistic because it assumes that only missionaries are responsible for baptisms, when if you were to put 4 missionaries in a ward or branch instead of two, the chances that baptisms would magically double are low, though you could expect retention and reactivation to be much better. Wards and branches have a much better influence on baptisms. When you look at converts per ward/branch, it evens out much better and you can see it has been pretty steady with slight gains recently. Another nice stat that you'll see below is the improvement in membership divided by the number of new congregations. Below you’ll see how wards have been doing better not only at getting more converts per congregation, but also the increase in retention that the missionary force has been providing.

Year Conv/Missi Conv/Congre NewMem/NewCongr
2014 3.49 10.02 788
2013 3.41 9.67 1253
2012 4.61 9.39 1483
2011 5.08 9.52 2499

Detractors really can't find any negatives in this years numbers. Great year for the church. This next year looks like it'll be even better. Expect a baby boom similar to the missionary wave of a few years ago. I'd say this next year or the latter will see a great increase in babies.

John Pack Lambert said...

I know in my girlfriend's branch over this last year they updated the records to reflect that at least 4 members had died, although these people had died in previous years.

On the new general authorities, all were born in the United States. However Hugo Montoya Monroy has lived basically his entirely life in Mexico, served a mission there, was educated there, and worked there and served as a church leader there.

I wonder if he is related to the Mexican Revolutionary Era Mormon martyr, Rafael Monroy. However Monroy is not an uncommon name, so he might not be.

Elder Stanfill may be the first General Authority called born in Montana.

Tom said...

I'm interested to know more about efforts to remove names of missing people from the church records. That's something I've hoped we would do for a long time and I'd love to read more about that. Can someone point me to an article or even an anecdotal reference?

Also, the CDC notes an annual death rate in the U.S. of 821.5 per 100,000. If we took the entire population of the church and applied this rate, the number of deaths would look something like ~123k. ( I do realize that the church is not all Americans, but I would guess the U.S. has as low a death rate as most countries and much lower than some areas where the church has many members (Mexico, central america, Africa).

cheyney webb said...

I wonder about the Increase of children of record at .8%. I have a spread sheet around but I remember its been a lot higher in the past decade, increasing even while overall growth was slowing. Of course western countries reducing fertility rate could play a major part, but is this something to worry about?

Rusty Jones said...

1.92% growth is pretty bad knowing 50% won't stay active. The world population growth is 1.1%. This would suggest the church is relatively contracting.

Eduardo Clinch said...

While missionary numbers are up, it remains to be seen if RM retention rates may rise. Hopefully. Baby boom deaths are now starting to pick up. It will be interesting when more apostles are born since 1945, but that may take another 10 years at least. The oldest, Elder Perry, still looks strong.
Attrition through record removal would be an interesting stat list since 1830. What would the yearly rate be?

Rick said...

Adam why do you expect a baby boom this year?

Brandon Plewe said...

I too have been disappointed by the mismatch between the huge increase of missionaries and the small increase of baptisms, but much of what constitutes "missionary work" has changed in recent years, at least in the U.S. (where most of the surge went, rather than Africa where they could baptize all they wanted).

My son in Florida has had a couple baptisms in the past year, but has brought about a dozen less actives back into activity. To me, that is a more valuable use of his time, even though it doesn't show up in the statistics (except that both of his baptisms were part of reactivations-a teenage son and a girlfriend). They are also doing a lot more service (20 hrs/wk), which has made a difference in the general mood of the community toward the Church.

Mike Johnson said...

Ivory Coast

New Temples. Yes.

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

YES! Bangkok, Thailand Temple! I could cry right now! we've been working very hard for this!

TempleRick said...

Isawan, I'm so excited for you and the members throughout Southeast Asia!

John Jehosefat said...

The church had the lowest growth rate since 1946 this past year, which is sad considering the number of missionaries. If you look at the growth rate of wards (which is based on activity) it is barely on par with the world growth rate.

Brooks M. Wilson said...

Having two sons currently serving missions, I would have liked seeing more convert baptisms but as Brandon Plewe mentioned, things have changed. As some of you know by now, fertility rates have fallen in most of the world. Because missionaries baptize in younger demographics, the percentage of choice demographics is smaller than in the past.

Demographic momentum may explain why growth is not greater compared to population growth. Despite below replacement population rates in much of the world, populations in these countries have not yet started to decline because population will increase until the last year that the birth rate exceed replacement.

Mike Johnson said...

There is another source of loss numbers. I don't think this a measure of cleaning up records. We don't remove records unless people die, people ask to have their records removed, or are excommunicated.

This year's membership = last year's membership
+new children of record
- those withdrawing from the church (excommunication or requrest)
- deaths.

So, the 112,000 is the sum of those withdrawing and deaths. I would submit the majority of these are deaths. A 1% death rate would be 150,000. A 0.5% death rate would be 75,000. In the US, the death rate is just over 0.82% annually. That rate might be high for members of the Church in the US, because a higher fraction of Church members are younger (LDS members skew lower than the US overall). On the other hand, membership is all over the world, including in areas with both higher and lower death rates than the US.

Still, LDS deaths probably vary between 50,000 and over 100,000 annually. And likely account for the majority of the difference.

John Pack Lambert said...

Claims about the percentage that will "stay active" are complicated by lots of other factors. Just because someone goes inactive for a time does not mean they are permanently lost. Also, various factors alter the retention rates from time to time.

It should also be born in mind that growth in the number of children of record is not the same as births. New children of record more often come from the % of membership that is active, so there are lots of factors going on. On the other hand, not all people become children of record at birth. Last Febrary in my ward a set of year-old twins were blessed.

John Pack Lambert said...

We would expect a baby boom this year, because the wave of sister missionaries who went just after the missionary age lowering was announced by President Monson got home last fall. Many will get married and have their first child by the end of this year. Although I expect to see that phenomenon more next year.

John Pack Lambert said...

The higher average life expectancy of church members also causes a lower death rate. However it should also be kept in mind that the actual time of a persons death and that showing up on church records does not always correspond.

On the other hand I knew someone on my mission who when their records were requested for their new location, the ward clerk was notified this person was dead.

Jonathan Pugmire said...

A possible contribution to the increase in the number of members subtracted from the membership total could be increased efforts to clean the membership records.

Last year the church started sending batches of membership records back to the last known wards from the " lost member" file in Salt Lake. They included a list of several things to do to find their current address. We found the forwarding address or updated their current status for many records in our area. On a churchwide basis I'm sure this helped with reactivation efforts while also increasing the number reported as deceased or wanting their name removed.

Adam said...

You can use different measure to see what the amount of deaths "should" be, but we just have past years to go off of. If the majority were simply deaths, there is no reason why in just 7 years the number of removed/deaths would almost triple from 47k in 2007 to 122k now. There aren't THAT many more people dying. I'd be willing to guess over half are clean-ups, unless they were bloating/fudging the numbers in years past, which I don't think was the case.

As mentioned by some posts, not sure CDC and such stats work well either, since over 50% of the church's membership converted or was born into the church in the past 20 years. I'd guess the church's demographics are likely a lot younger than the general US/world population.

There was more family importance than conference than in years past. A lot of RM sisters are engaged/getting engaged right now, so I'd guess the next year or two should be pretty fruitful. I'll throw out a prediction of at least 140k by the end of 2016. It also looks it should continue to increase based on the predictions for increase in missionaries, meaning that demographic wise there are more youth going through the church than in years past.

James Anderson said...

I've just learned they are not sending as many missionaries as before to the Honduras San Pedro Sula East mission, and proselyting areas are being consolidated. Where there were say three companionships for example, there are now only two.

No word on why this is happening, although baptism rates are moderate, I understand most companionships are getting at least one every month, some more, some less depending on various factors.

Henry Ponnefz said...

The probable reason they don't have as many missionaries in Honduras is the danger. It is the most dangerous country in this hemisphere right now. My friends that lived there moved to Panama because they were mugged and one of their relative was killed when a thief was going to take a cell phone from him.