Saturday, April 17, 2010

Congregational Growth Outside the United States: 2009

Here is a list of countries with at least five new congregations created during 2009. List for 2007 and 2008 are also available. Worldwide congregations reported by the Church increased by 315 during the year, with slightly more than 200 outside the United States. The United States has been omitted.
  1. Brazil +36
  2. Mexico +30
  3. Nigeria +29
  4. Ghana +21
  5. Peru +15
  6. Democratic Republic of the Congo +9
  7. Cote d'Ivoire +9
  8. Philippines +8
  9. Nicaragua +7
  10. Madagascar +7
  11. Colombia +6
  12. South Africa +6
About 65% of the non-US increase in congregations in 2009 can be attributed to the top five countries. International congregational growth has steadily increased over the past three years and the number of countries with five or more new congregations created has grown from 6 in 2007, to 8 in 2008, and to 12 in 2009. However congregational growth remains much lower than most years from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, where in some years there were over 1,000 congregations organized. One of the major reasons for slower congregational growth is increased standards for new congregations to be organized. During years with high congregational growth between the late 1970s and late 1990s, many congregations operated below current standards, hundreds of which were discontinued in the early 2000s. However retention and local leadership development problems remain major factors in limiting annual congregation increase worldwide.


Tom said...

The best indication of large scale church growth is to look at areas where membership and congregations are growing at the same time and rate.

In all the countries listed here, congregations and membership are increasing yes, but the rate of new congregations possibly still is trailing the amount of new converts.

For example, Brazil saw an increase of 42,118 members and 36 congregations last year. Although many of those converts will obviously account to existing congregations. If we divide the amount of converts per the increase in congregations we get 1169 converts on average per new congregation! Obviously retention still is an issue here, and is in many other countries.

Matt said...


This is very true and something that indicates that many converts are not being retained despite reforms in the missionary program. Not only Brazil, but Mexico and Peru also saw much slower congregational growth rates compared to membership growth rates (1,311 and 1,231 new members per congregation, respectively). 21 nations experienced membership growth greater than 1,000 with no increase of congregations or an increase over 1,000 in the ratio of new members to new congregations. Argentina had membership increase by nearly 8,800 in 2009, but the number of congregations declined by two.

Tom said...

In regards to the comment I have just posted above, I have just carried out the same test of congregational growth/membership growth on the 2009 statistics for the democratic republic of the congo.

from 2009-10 the Congo DR saw an increase of 4302 members, and as your post states an increase of 9 congregations. Dividing the numbers together we have 478 new converts per congregation. That suggests a much higher (though obviously not 100%) retention rate than we see in the latin american countries.

This is excellent progress, and to be honest I am excited about the church growth in this country more than any other in the world. Last years increase of 4302 was the largest annual increase in the countries history. Now combine this with the fact that most areas are reached, missionary work is stretched (having to rely on local + member missionary work)and we're creating an extra mission here.

As a result I can only see growth rates accelerating here. It does give me a concern it may be a strain on local leadership/organisation. But we could be potentially looking at 100,000 members here by 2020?!

andrew said...

you must be really busy these days