Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Membership by Country Statistics Released for 2016

The Church has released 2016 membership and congregation totals for nations with a reported LDS presence. These statistics can be accessed on Church's official website at http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics. Data is available under the country profiles on the right side of the site.

Countries with the highest annual membership growth rates in 2016 (10% or greater) are listed below. Lists for nations with the most rapid membership growth rates are also available for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The percentage next to the country name is the annual growth rate percentage which is followed by the country's LDS membership at year-end 2016. Countries in bold experienced a membership increase greater than 200. 
  1. Montenegro - 35.3% -23
  2. Cote d'Ivoire - 22.7% -39,589
  3. Guernsey - 20.8% - 58
  4. Antigua and Barbuda - 20.4% - 230
  5. Solomon Islands - 19.9% - 952
  6. Israel - 19.4% - 258
  7. Benin - 17.0% - 2,638
  8. Turkey - 16.9% - 513
  9. Togo - 16.0% - 3,804
  10. Malawi - 16.0% - 2,486
  11. Sint Maarten - 15.2% - 281
  12. Liberia - 15.1% - 11,135
  13. Lesotho - 14.7% - 1,001
  14. Rwanda - 13.4% - 390
  15. Saint Kitts and Nevis - 12.8% - 238
  16. Angola - 11.3% - 2,123
  17. Ireland - 11.0% - 3,816
  18. Democratic Republic of the Congo - 10.3% - 52,869 
  19. Cameroon - 10.0% - 1,628
Below is a list of the top ten countries by numerical membership increase for the year 2016. Each country is provided with the numerical national increase in membership. Additionally, the percentage total Church membership increase accounted by each country is provided. Lists are also available for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015. 70.4% of the 2016 net increase in LDS membership can be attributed to the following 10 nations. 
  1. United States - 60,539 - 24.4%
  2. Brazil - 27,389 - 11.0%
  3. Mexico - 22,303 - 9.0%
  4. Philippines - 17,664 - 7.1%
  5. Nigeria - 10,870 - 4.4%
  6. Peru - 9,967 - 4.0%
  7. Cote d'Ivoire - 7,331 - 3.0%
  8. Argentina - 7,052 - 2.8%
  9. Guatemala - 6,457 - 2.6%
  10. Ghana - 5,137 - 2.1%
Country-by-country membership statistics shed light unto recent trends in decelerating LDS membership growth rates for the worldwide Church. LDS membership growth rates in the countries with the three most members - the United States, Brazil, and Mexico - continues to decelerate. Annual membership growth rates for these nations in 2016 were as follows: the United States (0.93%), Mexico (1.60%), and Brazil (2.06%). To contrast, the Church during the past 15 years has generally experienced annual membership growth rates between 1.5-2.0% in the United States, 2.0-4.0% in Mexico, and 3.0-5.0% in Brazil. In other words, the rate of membership growth during 2016 in these three nations was approximately half of historical averages since the year 2000. Ineffective proselytism tactics, lack of engagement of ordinary members in missionary activity, increasing secularism and materialism, and decades of low convert retention problems have appeared primarily responsible for this deceleration in growth.

Membership statistics for 2016 also indicate significant accelerations in membership growth in Sub-Saharan Africa - particularly in West Africa. Good receptivity to LDS teachings, expansion of the Church into previously unreached areas, the organization of small branches in lesser-reached urban areas to spur greater growth, strong member-missionary involvement in proselytism in certain nations, and good self-sufficiency in meeting regional missionary needs all appear responsible for this acceleration in growth. Furthermore, most areas also report good convert retention and member activity rates.

The Church in Cote d'Ivoire stands as the quintessential example of the implementation of effective church growth tactics in a nation with a population that is generally receptive to LDS proselytism. Both Ivorian missions are self-sufficient as evidenced by Ivorian members serving as mission presidents and only Black Africans full-time missionaries serving in the country. Church leaders have implemented aggressive national outreach expansion efforts. There are more than three dozen cities and towns with an LDS presence as of early 2017, and the first LDS congregations were organized in two-thirds of these cities within the past five years. Additionally, many congregations report good to excellent member involvement in proselytism and local leadership development. Ivorian members also number among the most active in regards to temple attendance worldwide. For example, three of the five Ivorian stakes in 2012 were among the top 25 stakes in the world for the percentage of adults submitting family names for vicarious temple ordinances. It is therefore not surprising that the Church in Cote d'Ivoire reported an annual membership growth rate of 22.7% in 2016 - the highest reported by the Church in Cote d'Ivoire since 1995 when there were only 2,800 members nationwide. The Church reported 39,589 members, 182 congregations, 11 stakes, 11 districts, and two missions as of year-end 2016.

Analysis regarding 2016 congregational growth trends by country will be posted in the coming days.


james anderson said...

At the end of last year, the number of temples outside the US was one shy of being even with the number inside the US. Paris will even that, then next year sometime, the balance will finally tip towards the world outside the US havng more

Eduardo Clinch said...

Excellent reporting, thanks.
My home ward experienced very few serious investigators in 2016; perhaps this is an indication of slower growth as noted nationwide. However, the DC South Mission did achieve its goal of 300+ convert baptisms. I don't know if that number is above or below the US level of growth for 2016 per the Virginia area covered (maybe 2,000,000?), but off hand 300 seems seems pretty small, even below the lower 2016 rate.
Lots of reasons for slower growth as mentioned, but it is always disappointing to see teenagers stop attending as I have seen in my ward the last couple years.
Wonderful to see dynamic growth in the newer countries like Montenegro and other places -Guersney- ! it is awesome to see positive growth.
Antigua, Turkey.
I am surprised that Israel did not have more members alteady. I was there in the 1990s and I got the impression that more LDS were migrating there.
Interesting. Maybe someday.

Mike Johnson said...

Praying for President Monson who has been hospitalized.

Mike Johnson said...

Forgive the shout of joy:


95,198 Total Church Membership
3 Missions
200 Congregations
46 Family History Centers

200 congregations. Finally.

Bryan Dorman said...

I remember very well we were baptizing 40 to 50k in Mexico in a year while on my mission there in 2005 to 2007. With NINETEEN missions.

Now we baptize less than half that with THIRTY-FOUR missions?!!

I will be honest, I am disappointed in those numbers though I am thrilled for Africa doing so well.

My old mission is is doing well in baptisms though due to them and the local leadership expanding out to outlying areas. Such is the case in Comitan and in San Cristobal. Most of the people in Central and Northern Mexico are loathe to split wards and stakes in a three/two method as it hurts the pride of the leaders that someone needed help from another branch or ward to divide.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Pride.Not good.
The criteria to be baptized has been raised in most places as I understand it. Must attend Church more than before.
I think that younger missionaries is part of the equation of less convert baptisms, too.
However, there are benefits in helping members to be more strengthened, perhaps. Hard to know, but I think that more regular members, active and less actives both, maybe do more to try to accomodate elders and sisters to feel taken care of, which may raise activity and unity.
Maybe not. But the age change will continue to have a cultural and structural effect on the faith and its membership.
We trust that the shift has more strengthening effects and long term benefits for every one involved. Also, I expect more dependence on senior missionaries to grow the Church in deeper and more expansive ways.
Great time to be alive and see continued real growth.
One more thought:
In my first area my companions and I baptized 16-17 people in 4+ months. In my last area we baptized 5 in 3 months. It is possible that those five may have been more significant the long term growth of the faith despite the differences on paper.

Thomas Lang said...
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Thomas Lang said...

I'd be interested to see what, if any areas saw a decrease in LDS population.

I recently returned to my mission after being home for 6 years. I was surprised to see only one new family in one the branches I used to be a missionary in, and overall less people at church. When I asked the Elder where they were doing their finding he said, 'well its really going to be through the members and their friends that long term growth will be achieved'.

It was sad because a majority of the 10 families at church were 'found' not referrals. And its hard to imagine a large gold mine of referrals from members who have been going to church for years. Almost all my referrals came from recent converts and investigators. Sometimes you need to find a new patient zero. Not to mention I believe when missionaries are finding new people, even if they do not decide to join the church it makes the members excited. Taking members and less actives on teaching appointments seemed to me to be a better way to teach missionary work and church activity then going into members and less actives homes and teaching them.

Side note looks like estimated growth in the US population as a whole was around %.9 and global population growth %1.1 so even our depressed growth is still ahead of the world at large.

In response to possibility of younger missionaries being affected I know several friends who seemed to lose interest in the church from 18 to 19. The long term affect of getting some of those bubble members out may outweigh the decrease in baptisms (even if younger missionaries are partially responsible for decreased baptism).

Jeff Fuller said...

Would be really interesting to see this data done over a full decade, from 2007-2016. Would take out some of the statistical noise/quirks with reporting and surges based on migration/missionary surge/etc ...

Eduardo Clinch said...
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Eduardo Clinch said...

Does Virginia have 3 or 4 missions? All of DC South (except maybe a few units of the DC YSA Stake) Mission is in Virginia.
So that only leaves Richmond and the Hampton Roads area, or is there one more?
Does Richmond cover all the way to Bristol and the Appalachian Mountains?

Mike Johnson said...

DC South, Virginia Richmond, and Virginia Chesapeake Missions.

However, a majority of the West Virginia Charleston Mission is in Virginia and the Winchester Virginia Stake is the Maryland Baltimore Mission.

The Kingsport Tennessee Stake is about half in Virginia and is in the Tennessee Knoxville Mission.

james anderson said...

One way to help Church growth is family history and using FamilySearch in the effort. There is an area now on lds.org that covers this although briefly.

Some radio station in Sao Paulo did a program about FamilySearch and family history. Of course in a city with a metro area of 21 million you are going to have a lot of listeners no matter what the slice percentage-wise of the pie is. The station was probably heard as far north as past Campinas, and even as far west as Sorocaba and east the same distance. So that means the audience potential was much larger, probably over 25 million.

They got 40,000 new signups on FamilySearch from just that one program.

They have 300 cameras in 50 countries sending the equivalent of 3 terabytes of data a day back to Salt Lake. Partnering with Ancestry and other brings even more data. Indexing, some done by nonmembers, helps too. And a few partners, they work with nearly a hundred right now, are also helping, some provide software, some provide organizational tools, and a few even allow anyone who wants to to collect data, which in turn helps everyone, member or not, find and add names to the tree.

The easiest of these is BillionGraves.com, you download their app on a smartphone, and if it has GPS you can go to any place there is a grave, take pictures of the hedstones there, and upload, others transcribe and that helps if you shot a large number, and some where they match a name already on the tree, are connected by site users either during transcription or by matching names added later.

They are even getting data where we are not. Laos, places in Turkey, Namibia, etc. Most records are US/Canada or western Europe so far, but by making this tech available, we can get some things that FS or the partners may not always be able to get around to, and sometimes match with cemetery records that they already have.

One third of the names added each month to the tree are added by those who are not members

700 million sources, 2.5 million names a month, I'm not sure the rest but it's big.

John Pack Lambert said...

Here http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865677069/New-LDS-pilot-programs-bring-education-to-Mormon-children-in-island-nations.html is an article about an education initiative that I hope pays off. Right now it is being piloted in three ways in Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

John Pack Lambert said...

In 2012 none of the 10 countries contributing most to the growth were in Africa. Last year only 2 were. So this is the first time that Ivory Coast actually is a top 10 contributor to growth. I have a feeling we have not yet begun to see what will happen in Ivory Coast. On another note I am hoping Malawi's growth leads to stake formation soon.

On a last note, Turkey is doing well. I am thinking what Turkey needs now is more branches in places like Istanbul and Izmir. Growth at this stage I think works best in small branches and not large units where people get lost. You just need to keep high long term retention rates. Otherwise the small branches remain small but with long membership lists that make it hard to conduct outreach and so that when people come a few times and then leave they fall through the cracks.

John Pack Lambert said...

It is nice to see Lesotho over 1,000 members. Hopefully they will continue to grow and soon get a stake. I have to admit I am in shock to see Ireland on the list. I thought the Church was essentially stagnant in Ireland. Hopefully this growth starts reflecting in unit creation, although for various reasons even higher active membership, even when it involves members who go to the temple, does not always mean more units.

John Pack Lambert said...

The top 10 nations only provided 70% of increase as opposed to 73% of increase. This is probably a good sign for the Church reaching the entire world.

John Pack Lambert said...

Is there any indication of what percentage of the missionaries in Ivory Coast are Ivorian nationals?

John Pack Lambert said...

I am wondering if Israel has a high rate of members who migrate there and then leave. I was reading about a book written by a Sister Boyd who is a Jewish American convert to the LDS Church who lived in Israel for a time. I got the impression she probably has since moved back to the US but it was not 100% clear.

I wonder what percentage of Church members in Israel are Filipino migrant workers. If it is like other mid-east countries it is a fairly high percentage. In many cases these workers are forced to come without their spouse or children, so the Church generally encorages them to not stay too long but to find a way to reunite with their family which normally means going back to the Philippines and maybe making less money. I know we had a Filipino man in our ward who had left his family back in the Philippines and went back because the bishop encouraged him to value being with his family. It is a different case for those who come with their immidiate family, and in some countries paths to bring the immiediate family there exist, but many especially in the middle east, and especially Israel, try their harderst to stop such. Israel because it wants to remain a Jewish nation.

My current ward has seen 9 baptisms since the start of November. Probably not a lot if you consider how many people live in the ward boundaries, but controlled growth where people build the connections and receive the support they need to stay is the best. Telling Sister Houze of how the Church used to have a chapel on Sorrento in Detroit before it was bulldozed to build a freeway touched her more than I expected. Having a youth at the same time volunteer that there is a picture of her great grandparents in front of that chapel I think helped Sister Houze to see even more we are a unified people, even if some want to see metro Detroit split on racial lines.

John Pack Lambert said...

If we do better at retention, and also focus on and get results in reactivation we are making progress. Baptisms are not everything. The strong focus on getting members to the temple, and putting time into following through to get that result may take time away from finding, but as President Hinckley lamented in the late 1990s it did no good to have members coming in the front door to go out the back door.

I do know someone who was baptized in the early 1990s while she was living out of wedlock with a man. She admits she has conflicted memories of her baptism day because she knew then she was not living right. She was inactive for many years, but did get endowed a few years back, about 20 after baptism. I am sure that her baptism then was a violation of the rules on the books, and how much current procedures would better screen against such a baptism I can not say, but I think requirements like higher numbers of time going to Church not only make it so people have more connection with fellow members, but make it so that they are more likely to come in line accepted behavior or accept that they can't be baptized if they are not.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think law of chastity issues are a much bigger issue in the lower baptism rates than people have been willing to say.

This is partly because of paper the Church has always had a hard policy on the law of chastity. At the same time the general increase of violation of it is not seen as a new development.

However a few factors play in. One is I think that actual enforcement on the ground has picked up a bit recently. Paired with this is some of the low natural growth we see is a result of hollow numbers we got 20 years ago from people baptized who did not internalize the law of chastity.

The law of chastity issues are also presents a harder line.

In the US the majority of births are out of wedlock. Culture almost expects people to cohabitate before marriage. The US government has tried to force employers to pay to fund the contraceptions needed by young professionals so they can have an active uncontrolled sex life without facing the consequences.

My first baptism on my mission involved a woman who was living out of wedlock with a man within a month of baptism. We did not teach the law of chastity well enough or maybe it was just not internalized. The fact that we taught her and her nine year old daughter at the same time makes me suspect it was mainly the former.

While Iglesia ni Christo's 53 lessons before baptism seems a bit extreme, I think the current policy of at least 3 times attending Church and some other changes since I was a missionary make things better. I hope a higher percentage of people brought to baptismal interviews are turned down than in my mission. I had companions who did baptismal interviews and from what I was told it took very little understanding or show of commitment to pass. It is hard to draw a clear line, and I have seen cases like the 13-year-olds baptized in my ward 16 months ago without any parent who are still active show that even the least expected to succeed cases can work.

Also, areas that effectively and faithfully implement the Addiction Recovery Program see great results.

We need to remember that numbers alone are not the goal, and keep not just baptism but the temple in mind.

John Pack Lambert said...

On my mission a lot of people got married to long time live-in significant others shortly before baptism.

This is one option. However it will not work in all cases. I remember in John P. Livingstone's article on "establishing the Gospel Simply" in BYU studies about his time as mission president in Detroit and creating branches that unified people in the city based on culture (he insisted that seeing it as race missed the point), that he mentioned understanding the issues and feelings of having a person who one had had sex with in the past try to come into their life again was one issue that the urban people resonated with that few suburban Mormons could relate with.

On my mission I saw one sister who came back to Church on the Sunday gospel principals taught about the law of chastity never return again. The whole lesson was poorly given, and maybe if I had not been such a new missionary I would have spoken out more against it. The sister had had at least one child since baptism and never been married. I am sure she felt targeted by the lesson, and the ward mission leader knew he had acted unwise. The fact that he defended it as just giving the next lesson shows that he knew in his heart of hearts that he had not followed the spirit in this case.

So I will submit that in the Church we can often do a better job of teaching the law of chastity in a way that it is not seen as a club to attack people.

John Pack Lambert said...

I have to say that I am not sure that "younger missionaries" is really a big impact. Elders are not that much younger than they were before, and I have had friends who could not have left a day sooner than they did under the old system under the new because they submitted their papers while still in high school.

The big change will be in having had more women who were missionaries. What the cumulative effects of this change will be remains to be seen,

John Pack Lambert said...

I am also tempted to wonder if younger missionaries are leading to fewer baptisms if it might be because they are following the rules better and not bending them just to get desired numbers.

I have known lots of very active members who were found through door to door knocking. I also know some active members who were essentially self referrals from internet research on the Church.

We need to be in the right place at the right time. Missionaries need to work, even if the work feels ineffective.

I hated that my lazy senior companion who would go from watching TV at one members house to another most of the time, still managed to have a baptism. However we would have probably had more if we had spent time tracking, visiting less active members with a clear spirtual message and the like. On the other hand I knew missionaries who worked their tail off and seemed to get no results.

james anderson said...

Teaching the law of chastity upfront has worked in some areas, but cannot work everywhere and the place it has is east Africa, Mozambique, Uganda?

They baptize many they teach there in part due to that. But try that in the US? Right now, forget it.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Lazy and immature missionaries happen at all ages, true. Hopefully internally more younger returning elders and sisters will add to Church growth a great deal. More go in the first place, more gain quality depth of Christ-like testimony and stay active as adults.
With younger missionaries the last few years we have had these issues: the elders would fail to go out on local planned exchanges with priesthood due to lack of planning. Backward thinking. Worse, seasoned priesthhod holders were left in the lurch or not contacted. Also, side note, I noticed in our mission we really do not do splits (doubling numbers) but one male accompanying. A trio does less than two pairs, in my opinion.
We have had elders insult their hosts at a dinner by claiming their left over food was not good enough to take home.
A ward mission leader made a special flyer to be disseminated by the elders, particular to the local ward meetings, Scouts, and temple and the elders never gave away one, apparently.
Makes me wonder.
Points taken about living difficult gospel laws and feeling offended or targeted while taught. That's tough.
My ward's last adult convert (2014) has gone less active because of cohabitation, it appears. The one before her claimed basic church teachings are too boring, she says. But she is admittedly not really motivated to attend.
All of that said, missionary work progresses. The spirit of Elijah marches on regardless.

John Pack Lambert said...

Just since 2014 the number of baptized Catholics in Africa has risen from 186 million to 222 million. We have a long way to catch up.

John Pack Lambert said...

In 2010 there were 22.6 million baptized Catholics in Nigeria up from 19 million in 2005. I am not sure what the number is today. However this means there are more Catholics just in Nigeria than there are Mormons worldwide. Nigeria at the time had well over 150 million people so less than 15% of the population is Catholic.

L. Chris Jones said...

You only need to be born to qualify for baptism in the Catholic church. Birth rate is high. And so the numbers grow.

Jeff Steed said...


I think more emphasis should be made in your analysis to comparative declining population growth rates. Yes, the Church only grew last year in net new members in the U.S. by 0.9%, but the growth rate of the U.S. for last year was only 0.6%. That is still growing a faster than the U.S. population by a full 50% percent -- which is still very significant. Also, these numbers do not take into consideration the greater emphasis on reactivation efforts of U.S. members -- which have had considerable success in the states.

I agree with you conclusion that growth rates of the Church in the U.S., Brazil, and in more established nations are declining, but so is the average population growth rate as a whole in those areas. As long as the Church continues to grow at rates that exceed the average population growth rates, then I really don't see any problem for the Church -- (compound interest is a powerful thing).

James said...

I have been astounded at the Church growth developments. It is significant indeed that of the 12 temples announced in the last three years, there have been 3 for Africa, 2 each for Brazil, elsewhere in South America, and the United States and 1 each in the Caribbean and Asia. And the 2 newest US temples are in LDS strongholds. This demonstrates to me that we have come a long way since we were able to be called just a "Utah" or "United States" Church. I personally believe we might see the day (perhaps very soon) where the number of temples in Utah (which, with this most recent announcement, has jumped to 18) directly corresponds to the number of temples in Brazil (which, with those most recent announcement, comes to 10). I have also spoken before of the stagnated growth in the United States of which Matt spoke in that article for which he was interviewed. So I believe that we will see the Church thrive in other areas of the world while we might not see temples announced in the United States at nearly the same rate that they have been lately. Time will tell. Thanks for letting me contribute to this wonderful discussion.