Saturday, April 1, 2017

2016 Statistical Report

This afternoon, the Church reported the following statistics as of December 31st, 2016.

  • Membership: 15,882,417 (increase of 248,218 from 2015; a 1.59% annual increase)
  • Congregations: 30,304 (increase of 288 from 2015; a 0.96% annual increase)
  • Stakes: 3,266 (increase of 92 from 2015; a 2.90% annual increase)
  • Districts: 556 (decrease of 2 from 2015; a 0.36% annual decrease)
  • Missions: 421 (increase of 3 from 2015; a 0.72% annual increase)
  • Convert Baptisms: 240,131 (decrease of 17,271 from 2015; a 6.71% annual decrease)
  • Increase of Children on Record: 109,246 (decrease of 5,304 from 2015; a 4.63% annual decrease)
  • Full-time missionaries: 70,946 (decrease of 3,133 from 2015; a 4.23% annual decrease)
  • Church service missionaries: 33,965 (increase of 2,186 from 2015; a 6.88% annual increase)
The increase in the number of stakes constitutes the greatest positive development in the 2016 statistical report. The number of stakes increased by 2.90% during the year - the highest annual percentage growth rate for the Church since 1998. Improvements in leadership development outside North America and emphasis on reducing the number of congregations per stake in certain areas of the United States appear to primarily drive accelerated stake growth in 2016. The number of church service missionaries also increased by 6.88% in 2016 compared to 2015.

Essentially all other indicators of church growth reported in the 2016 Statistical Report suggest slightly decelerating growth for the Church as a whole. Congregational growth trends constitute the greatest concern in the report as the increase in the number of congregations (wards and branches) organized in 2016 significantly declined compared to 2015 (e.g. 288 versus 395). The number of converts baptized, increase of children on record, and the number of full-time missionaries serving all declined compared to 2015 although these declines were slight (e.g. 4-7%). In other words, the productivity of the Church as measured by converts baptized, increase of children on record, and full-time missionaries serving has appeared relatively unchanged or slightly less than 2015. The "double cohort" of full-time missionaries serving that resulted in the reduction in the minimum age for missionary service in late 2012 has appeared to have fully come to an end, resulting in no more artificial inflation in the number of members serving full-time missions. Thus, future changes in the number of missionaries serving will reflect the rate of members serving full-time missionaries.

Membership growth for the Church slowed to 1.59% in 2016 - the lowest annual percentage growth in membership since 1937. The net increase in church membership during 2016 was a mere 248,218 - the lowest annual net increase in church membership since 1983. The summation of convert baptisms and increase of children on record was 349,377 - the lowest since 2005.

Not all aspects of membership growth statistics reported in 2016 indicate negative developments. Fewer members appeared to have had their names removed from church records due to death, resignation, or excommunication during 2016. The difference between the summation of converts baptized and increase of children on record and net increase in church membership was 101,159 in 2016. Although this is the third highest number for this statistics, it is less than what it was for 2015 (110,090) or 2016 (122,903).


Ohhappydane33 said...

It is not at all clear whether the number of excommunicated and/or resigned members are removed from membership statistical Totals. Just saying...

John Pack Lambert said...

Of course people who are excommunicated or resign from the Church are removed from the membership statistics. The statistics cover actual members, not people who are not on the records of the Church.

John Pack Lambert said...

The true measures of conversion, such as retention of the newly baptized in activity and their progress to temple attendance are much harder to qualtify. I have a strong faith that the newly reformated system of what the role of temple and family history consultant is, among other developments, will lead to the Church seeing new heights in real growth.

Christopher Nicholson said...

And how exactly should they make that clear? Should they release all 15+ million names on the records so we can verify for ourselves when some get removed, or what?

John Pack Lambert said...

Of the 6 new general authorities called, only 2 are from the US. In fact, an equal number are from Brazil as from the US. The other two are from Peru and Fiji. Taniela B. Wakolo, the one from Fiji, is currently serving as a mission president in Arkansas.

There are also now two Elder Godoy among general authorities. One is from Peru and the other is from Brazil, so I do not think they are related. Elder Joni Koch, one of the general authrotities called who is a native of Brazil, was serving as president of the Mozambique Mission at the time of his call. I am a bit confussed because the Church News article I came across says that he was going to preside over the Portugal Porto Mission.

Ohhappydane33 said...

I have my doubts that the records of excommunicated and or resigned members are expunged or otherwise destroyed. Once on the records, always on the records. Yeah, I know the drill here. How DARE I make this assertion?! Well, aside from the Church disclosing such information, none of us will never know for sure, including you John.

Ohhappydane33 said...

Christopher: How about a total number of excommunications and or resignations per year? Seems pretty simple to me and the Church undoubtedly has these totals located somewhere. Sincerely yours, Miserable and Unhappy Dane.

Christopher Nicholson said...

My question stands, Dane.

james anderson said...

John C. Pingree is apparently the son of another john C. Pingree who headed the Utah Transit Authority for some years in the 1990s until, according to rumor, being run out on a rail by some others who did some good and bad things until they also retired including stopping at least horurly service to the Provo Temple in 2015 to 'improve service' or so they thought.

That temple had been served for 29 years every day it was open and sometimes by as many as three different routes and very frequently too, now it's by a gerrymandered intercity route which doesn't see that traffic because no one understands it goes by there during the morning and afternoon rush

mormonchess said...

I know an excommunicated brother that attends my ward. His name is not on the membership records.

Of course, Church headquarters will have the record of the excommunication, but the name is expunged from official rolls.

Ray said...

Matt, your last figure of 122,903 was for 2014. The number for 2016 is 101,159.

Thanks for your thoughtful analysis. Hopefully the individual year-end 2016 national totals will be available very soon.

John Pack Lambert said...

The central point of excommunication and having names removed from the records of the Church is taking these names out of counting. It is one of the key differences between Mormons and Catholics that Mormons consider those excommunicated to no longer be part of the Church.

Probably a bigger point is that recent policy changes have made it harder to give a child a name and a blessing. The exact policy change may not have affected very much. However, for example Brother Franco, whose wife was just called as the 2nd counselor in the Primary General Presidency, was blessed at birth because his uncle was a member of the Church, but really had no contact with the Church again until he turned 10.

There are other policies that have been done at various times that have redcuced the number of counted people on Church records without having any effect on attendance.

John Pack Lambert said...

Interestingly enough both of the Brazilian General Authorities called today have bachelors degrees from BYU. One has an executive MBA from what I think is an institution in Brazil. That is Elder Joni Koch who is a native of Joinville, Brazil, the city where the first branch was organized in Brazil back in the 1920s.

Elder Brian K. Taylor, another of the newly called 70, is a son-in-law of Vaughn J. Featherstone. He is also a grad of BYU.

John Pack Lambert said...

Joni Koch, the newly called general authority who is currently serving as president of the Mozambique Mission, is married to a woman whose maiden name is Ludwig. She is from Uruguaiana, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in the interior along the border with Argentina and just a little north of the border with Urguguay.

Elder Parrella, the other Brazilian general authority just called, joined the Church in 1971 when he was about 9. He is a native of Guarujá, a city on an island off the shore of Brazil in Sao Paulo State. He is the one who has both a bachelors and MBA from BYU.

Brett Stirling said...

The Church would have detailed statistics on active and less active members. It's interesting to see the overall number being discussed with no context given with the above breakdown. Close to 16 million sounds good. However, as most Bishops and all auxiliary leaders to the side and above would know, many people don't remove their names officially after ceasing associating and self identifying in national census as LDS.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Some people understand Church statistical policy so well, I am amazed at the depth of understanding. These elite minds cut right through the sanctimonious nonsense and proliferation of incoherence that occurs in so many blogs.
Glad we have a blogger who authoritatively knows the truthes and REAL story of how things work.
And completely sane, by the way.
Most impressive.
I've enjoyed conference so far. Growth is ultimately personal, if I may add my two cents.
At the risk of being obtuse and incoherent.
Did I check my assertions? Yup.
I'll take 1.59 percent growth, falsified membership records or no.
The Church is on track. It's up to us to be counted.
Sorry if that doesn't make sense; then again skip it and read the next comment to avoid any further thought about such meandering musings.

John Pack Lambert said...

Elder Wakolo has only been a member since 1994, or for 23 years. He may be the most recently baptized of the general authorities. He was born in June 1967, so he will be 40 this year. All 6 newly called General Authorities were born in the 1960s. Elder Godoy was born in 1968, he is the youngest of the 6 new ones.

Brother Godoy has a masters degree from the Technical University of Madrid, which he got in 2006. He worked as a dentist, but later became a full time employee of the Church Educational System. He has been an institute coordinator, institute director, country director for CES and was the South America Northwest Area director for CES at the time of his call. He is the only one of the 6 new general authorities who has not been a mission president.

John Pack Lambert said...

I remember back when the North Shore Massachusetts Stake was organized I remarked this was irregular since it is not named after a specific city. I just learned that the stake that Elder Joni Koch was living in at the time of his call as a mission president, the Vale do Itajaí Brazil Stake, is not named after a specific city. Vale do Itajaí is a mesoregion in Santa Catarina State of Brazil (the same state where Elder Koch was born). Its population is said by Wikipedia to be largely of German and Italian origin. Mesoregions exist for statistical purposes, but are not administrative areas.

John Pack Lambert said...

Of the new area authorities 3 are from Ghana, 1 from Ivory Coast and one from the Republic of the Congo.

Randolph Finder said...

As an additional point, In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Church growth of membership was below 2%. The most recent other 3 year period in which that was true was pre civil war: 1856,1857 and 1858.

Iris and Craig said...

I don't want to sound negative, but where is all this Church *growth*? Back when the age change happened all these comments popped up on here from everyone saying Elder Cook or Elders so and so for the 70 said that we'd see baptismal growth like we have never dreamed of, or baptizing millions a year etc etc. it got me all pumped up, but man it's been years and nothing out of the ordinary has happened and this net increase has been one of the lowest in decades....:(

Ohhappydane33 said...

Iris and Craig: A substantial amount of growth appears to be in western Africa. If not for Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria, recent growth would truly be abysmal.

Bryan Dorman said...

HappyDane has a point in that we might never know the total membership that has resigned/name removal/excommunicated. There is however a second source that can be considered. That of national censuses where religious identification is used and "Mormon" is one of the available religions.

I remember some time back INEGI (Mexico's stats division) identified in Mexico somewhere to the tune of 300 thousand self-identifying Mormons and around a million and a half self identified Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jehovah's Witnesses are quite conservative in their reporting practices as they count the baptized publishers as full members of the Church and sympathizers have a different number. The number of baptized Witnesses in Mexico isn't above half a million. But there are over a million sympathizers so that explains the 1.5M figure.

In Mexico though Mormons have historically gone to Church a couple of times, been baptized, and not really checked on by missionary or member alike once the missionary goes to another area or returns home. Result: They don't feel at home anymore and they get inactive. You talk to inactives to say if they had gone to Church and they say they "were" members but not anymore (though the papers say otherwise).

Right now in Mexico there are 200+ stakes and 40 districts. ARound 2000 wards and branches. Which would add up to 300k active members thereabouts assuming 150 active per ward (a good round number that is fairly close to average), which explains the INEGI number for Mormons correctly. If Mexico had Cote d'Ivoire's activity rate we would not be looking at 2000 wards but at 8000 wards and branches.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I made a comment about 1.59 percent growth being ok, plus questioning how it is people outside of our Church statisticians and leaders know who exactly is counted.
I tried to contribute to the dialog but couched it in sarcasm, which recently a visiting general authority says is a negative thing...
Having said that, I am still optimistic about overall growth.

Michael Worley said...

I & C

1- I think the fulfillment of the apocryphal statements you've heard are still yet to come. The number of missionaries may rise rather quickly over the next 3 years.

2- I think that the struggles we've had only show the wisdom in the age changes-- if we hadn't had a double cohort, there would be a lot more weakness seen in the numbers.

3- It is clear to me that reactivation grew a lot because of the surge.

4- The public statements on the predicted effect of the surge don't match the comments that you and I have both heard bout fast growth.

5- The growth in Africa, if it continues, will be some of the strongest growth in active members-- both as a percentage and, I believe, numerically--ever. We've learned a lot from the nations where a lot of people went less-active.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Whether the LDS Church truly grows dynamically in the context of how the world and even some Church leaders (and members) define it, I am not sure that the Lord has that/it counted the same way. I am not trying to prescribe how the Lord thinks, how He judges, how he operates, how He is moving, etc. Or even how we people tabulate success.

I myself have had high hopes for amazing growth in the past. I remember reading a book excerpt, maybe by Elder Boyd K. Packer, about how Church growth would be exponentially huge in Brazil alone by 2020 or so. That was in 1997, and things have not gone as predicted by him or others, like Rodney Stark back then.
In the late 1990s I also was very optimistic about Chile, where I had spent some time and efforts and studies; back then the stakes had reached one hundred and things seemed like our faith was the inevitable future there.

This year I am simply grateful that they are getting their second temple (finally!).

In the 1830s, about five of the original 12 apostles hand selected by Joseph Smith turned against him and the faith, as I understand it, and some of them went on to persecute the early Saints. Maybe I have some of my early Church history fuzzy, but my point is is that it is hard for us to know "how successful" the faith grows by numbers and outside/external indicators.

The sheer number of functional temples worldwide indicates to me that the Church of Jesus Christ is in fine shape, relatively.

California, again, is "shrinking", yet by so many statistics is doing great.

Arizona? Amazing. Idaho? Fantastic.

Places in Africa are finally expanding that I have been looking at for two decades or more (Angola, Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi), not counting West Africa. East Africa is slow, granted, but again, the Lord is in charge.

It is awesome! Sorry to be such a cheerleader full of enthusiasm, but I see the cup as at least 75 percent full.

Happy General Conference weekend.

And yes, I believe my statements are coherent and not too sanctimonious. Thanks for allowing us a forum to freely express our ideas and thoughts.

I always knew we were better than the Soviet Union. I think time has proven me right.

John Pack Lambert said...

In my home ward largely as a result of the surge they have started doing monthly missionary prepartion classes for teenagers. This is something that was not done before. The effects of better prepration as a result of the 2012 change will probably only begun to be seen this year.

Mike Johnson said...

Five temple:
Manila general area
Saratoga Springs

Mike Johnson said...

Five temples

Manila general area
Saratoga Springs

coachodeeps said...

Five temples!

coachodeeps said...

TempleRick, your home town!!!

Fredrick said...

Of all five Saratoga Springs and Pocatello were the most expected. Finally - Pocatello will get a temple.

Brasilia wasn't much of a surprise. Nairobi was.

The second Manila temple was surely the dark horse of the five.

Mike Johnson said...

Nairobi has been discussed at some length on this board with growth not just in Kenya but in Uganda.

Fredrick said...

Nairobi did not seem to show the kind of growth that would warrant a temple compared to the nations on the west coast of Africa. I expected another temple in Nigeria before Kenya.

So Africa has three operating temples. 2 under construction and 3 announced. That's quite remarkable.

John Pack Lambert said...

True but I think the feeling was it would wait for more stakes. There is another district in Kenya that might have been aporoved for stake status (Chilu Hills or something like that). Still I am a little surprised that there was bo temple announced for Nigeria. Nigeria with 42 stakes all assignned to one temple and the temple under 20,000 square feet and evidently schuduled to about the max seems a strong camdidate for a new temple. On the other hand I think the Church will want to staff any new temple fully with Nigerian temple workers. At least in Benin City. That temple would only have a core area of maybe 7 stakes so a little hold off might be warrented. Still I expect both Benin City and Lagos to have temples announced by 2020. But what do I know I expected Trujillo, Peruvian to be one of the late 1990s 30 temples, was convinced that President Monson would announce a Brasilia Temple when he went to Brasilia after dedicating the Curitibia Brazil Temple and waa fully convinced that if any temple was announced this weekend Managua Nicaragua would be.

John Pack Lambert said...

Africa has 1.2 billion people so 4 times the US population. The US has 78 temples plus 3 under construction and 2 announced. So a similar number of temples per person in Africa would be about 320.

I guess if we look at it as 3 temples with 5 more it is s process of near doubling. Still if I remember right there was a point where Mexico had 1 temple with 11 more on tthe way. The South-east US if you excluded Texas and Maryland at one point had 2 temples with 5 on the way assuming one didnt include Louisville.

Even currently the Africa situation is not the only impressive one. Peru, Ecuador and Colombia have between them 4 temples with 4 more on the way.

I wish the other 2 temples in Africa had 4 new tempkes announced to draw away from them. It could happen.

Jim Chase said...

I thought being a missionary in 1980 was difficult enough. I had my share of success but I wished I could have taught more at the time. Back then the average missionary baptized 6.5 people a year.(church wide) Last year it was down to it's lowest average ever that I know of at around 3.5 people per missionary. It's a tough time to be a missionary in most parts of the world right now if you are looking for people to teach and baptize.

There are a few reasons for this, such as easier access to anti-Mormon literature via the internet, a less religious world than it was 30 years ago and the possibility that the Church has done a bad job at comforting the Church history issues which makes the Church look dishonest. There may be other reasons but my post was mostly to tell the missionaries, "Good luck out there!" It's rough times out there right now in most parts of the mission field.

Jim Chase

Eduardo Clinch said...

Comforting people for issues of concern regarding Church history is a constant source of friction for many. No organization is perfect, but like many things in life we try to emphasize the positive, which in the LDS case is substantial.
The wars rage on, but the champions in the end will have more virtue and love, for sure.
Charity and discipline. Will prevail, like God's will does, like our stalwort elders and sisters.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think one problem is that people act as if the Church should be perfect in everything and take offense when members on the past acted in different ways than we would today.

Beyond this a lot concluding some material on Wikipedia is written to try to criticize the Church. No where is this more evident than on the treatment of LDS leaders pronouncements on inter-racial marriage. Never mind that Spencer W. Kimball at a BYU devotional in 1955 declared that inter-racial marriage is no sin. Any realistic approach to the issue would accept that no one has specified inter-racial sex as specifically more sinful since then and the quotes in the issue before that such as Brigham Young's denoucing of sex by men with women of a certain alleged lineage need to be conditioned in the general assumption on 1861 weather fair or not that such was sex between master and slave and consider many modern writers treat all such sex as rape (altgough others consider the issue more complex) and thus clearly side that the men involved are evil and law breakers.

From President Kimballs talk to some more recent but hard to pinpoint point the rhetoric on inter racial marriage is best seen as discouraging marriages built to much on the knight in shining armor saving the damsel in distress. Elder Kimballs bigfest fear in 1955 is his white male listeners would see marrying a Native American woman as part of the generalized rescuing of the Lamanites and rush into marriage of grand romantic ideas of saving a people instead of a close person to person marriage. Another issue there are more recently was wanting marriages to succeed and recognizing that race or more specifically the dense cultural constructs that are covered by race are one facror that cam at times effect the likelyhood of marriage success

One of the big problems with Wikipedia article is that it never really addresses the real lived rhetoric on marriage in the Church. What I kbow is I heard marry in the Temple and marry a fellow Mormon over and over and over.

I did hear a little anti-interacial marriage rhetoric but very little and it was rare enough that I can specify which of my fellow history majors at BYU I will never actually respect any of her work because she voiced suxh racist ideas. In fact on the other hand in the early 2000s one of my sisters had a BYU professor who pushed back with the argument that hid white brother and saidbrother's fiancee who was black had an awful lot in common starting with both being returned missionaries.

My other reaction in that among my non-Mormon white colleges growing up in Sterling Heights there was a lot stronger antsgonism towards inter-racial marriage. It was my Eush Limbaugh hating liberal counselor at school not any of my white Church leaders some of whim were very politically conservative who gave me counsel against inter-racial marriage.

This is despite the fact my counselor only had a story to maybe react to and my youth leaders could plainly see me with Michelle Isaac in my arms at multiple dances. Maybe not as much as I wished but it was only at church dances that I actually interacted with real live black females enough go touch them.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Marriage is a divine process, and when people truly love each other God is happy. They raise better children, no matter what ethnic background.
I have seen many interracial marriages, particularly Anglos and Asians. Beatiful children and the church benefits.
One sweet couple I knew was a Chinese American and an Albanian.

Jeff Steed said...


You really don't have a clue what you are talking about. First, excommunicated members and resigned members are indeed removed from membership statistics. Anyone who rediculously claims else is selling something fierce.

Second, even in the US, the church is still growing at around twice the average population growth rate. Worldwide population growth rates are now around 1 percent as a whole. In the U.S., the 2016 population growth rate estimate is 0.6 percent. Again, active growth rates for the church are near double those numbers.

By comparison, world population growth rates in th 90s were closer to 4 percent. In the US, population growth rates in the 90s were about 2 percent. Compared this to population growth rates in 1990s, the church is doing just fine.

Indeed the church can't help it if people in general (not just mormons) are 1) getting married less and later in life, 2) are having fewer children. The church can't help the fact that the world population as a whole (especially in the US) is getting much older on average. Americans as a whole are also having far fewer children.

Do yourself a favor and look up the meaning of "compound interest." As long as the growth rate of the active members of the church exceeds the growth rate of the population in a given area, the church will not only grow, but will continue to grow over time much faster than the population in that area. This continues to occur pretty much everywhere in the world excepting those few jurisdictions that that have rampant unrest and turmoil (hence emigration-- i.e, South Korea), political corruption (i.e., Venezuela).

Case and point, as long as the active growth of the church continues to grow just as fast or faster than the surrounding population, the church will continue to grow well. As mentioned, the church is meeting or exceeding these growth rates where it is operating quite globally -- again, excepting a literal handful of areas that have rampant social unrest, political corruption, or net declining population rates.

b-man said...

Jeff, where are you getting growth rates for the church that are specific to the United States? I thought the church only published such data about the church as a whole? I'm just curious if you have access to more detailed data? If so, I'd love to see it.

As for relative growth rates, we have two things to consider, relative and absolute growth rates. It's possible that a relatively small religion like Mormonism would have larger percentage growth rates than some larger faiths, but take a very, very long time to catch up because of their relative sizes differences. A 10% increase in Mormons would equate to 1.5 million people, while a 1% increase in Catholics would equate to 12 million people, for example. By the way, even if you assume many of them are not true "believers," from what I can see, Islam, not Mormonism, is poised to take over the world. If trends continue, it will surpass Christianity thanks to its higher birth rate.

I think the issue with growth really comes down to momentum. As a faith, it's helpful for others to feel like you are up and coming if your goal is to increase converts. No one really wants to join the "losing" team. We used to tout our stats and loved to say we were the fasted growing religion, although I don't think that's true anymore. From what I can tell, for example, the Seventh Day Adventist faith is not only growing faster than us, but is now larger than us (~19 million members) despite being a younger church. You can look up their very detailed statistic report, if you don't believe me. They give a detailed breakdown of converts, those who leave, die, etc. Perhaps we could take a lesson from them when it comes to transparency so that blogs like this aren't needed.

I'm sure it goes without saying that the church would prefer higher growth, but it doesn't seem like growth is the only goal of the church. The church wants to feel like it's following God's will, which is why I assume it's willing to take positions that don't help much from a proselytizing standpoint. In my opinion, our missionary effort is as much, if not more, about retaining the young adult members of the church as it is about finding converts. Those people, after all, are the future of the church. If we lose most of the young people, what future does the church have?