Saturday, July 27, 2019

Rapid Church Growth in Mozambique

A recent Church Newsroom article noted that there has been significant progress with church growth in Mozambique. Some highlights from the article include:
  • Increasing numbers of convert baptisms in Beira after Cyclone Idai destroyed 90% of the buildings in the city four months ago
  • Thirteen convert baptisms in the Luaha Group in northern Mozambique (Luaha operated as a branch until a couple years ago)
  • Average attendance in sacrament meeting nationwide is nearly 70%
  • Three new stakes anticipated to be organized within the next year if current growth rates are sustained
  • Eleven of the thirteen branch presidents for branches outside of stakes have received temple ordinances since early 2018. Some areas where members live in the country require 100 hours of travel to reach the nearest temple.
  • Hope from members that a temple will one day be constructed in Mozambique
The two facts reported in the article that were most surprising to me were the high percentage of members who attend church services and plans to organize three new stakes within the next year. Even countries in Africa with moderate or high member activity rates generally report church attendance that constitutes only 50% of membership on church records. Although these percentages may be artificially higher due to large numbers of nonmembers in attendance, this nonetheless indicates significant progress with strengthening Church membership and activity. Also, the Church in Mozambique has historically struggled with inactivity and leadership development, particularly prior to the establishment of stakes in the country for the first time.

The Church created its first two stakes in Mozambique in 2015 (Maputo and Beira) followed by a third stake in 2017 (Beira Manga). Currently, only the Maputo Mozambique Stake has enough congregations to divide to create a new stake (10 wards, 2 branches), whereas the other two stakes do not have enough congregations to divide to organize new stakes (the Beira Mozambique Stake has seven wards, whereas the Beira Mozambique Manga Stake has five wards and two branches). The only district in the country, Nampula, has six branches although three of these branches were organized earlier this year. Thus, Nampula appears unlikely to become a stake given the recent establishment of most of the branches in the city (five of the six branches have been organized since October 2017). Therefore, many new wards appear likely to be organized soon if there are any realistic prospects for more stakes to be created. The Church reported 12,274 members, 22 wards, and 12 branches at year-end 2018. If 70% of Church membership attends sacrament meeting, then the average ward or branch may have as many as 250 people in attendance. Membership growth rates have accelerated in recent years from annual membership growth rates of 4-7% a year in the early 2010s to 13-15% for most years in the mid and late 2010s. In 2018, church membership increased by 13.3%. The Church was first established in Mozambique in the late 1990s. There were 200 members and one branch in 1997.

Click here for more statistical data on the Church in Mozambique.

Updated Country Profile - Bangladesh

Click here to access the updated country profile for Bangladesh, the world's eighth most populous nation inhabited by approximately 160 million people. No other sovereign nation in the world has as large of a population and only one Latter-day Saint congregation. Only one other country in the world has a larger population and no mission (Pakistan). The Church in Bangladesh has experienced essentially stagnant growth since the early 1990s when the first and only branch was organized in Dhaka. See below for the Future Prospects section of this article:

The lack of local leadership among the handful of Bangladeshi members in Dhaka continues to delay greater progress with the establishment of the Church. Additionally, no full-time missionaries have been assigned to the country, which appears out of concern of the Church’s legal status in the country and the influence of Islam on local culture. Given security and cultural concerns, only South Asian members appear likely to serve proselytizing missions in Bangladesh. Moreover, missionary activity would likely rely on member referral rather than traditional missionary finding tactics if full-time missionaries are assigned one day. The Church’s growth and progress in nearby Pakistan suggests similar results may be achieved in Bangladesh if the proper vision and consistent outreach is maintained that specifically focuses on the development of local leadership and helping greater numbers of young single adults serve full-time missions so one day there can be a native full-time missionary force capable of meeting local proselytism needs. Bangladeshi members who join the Church in other nations may return to their homeland and help build up the Church. A senior missionary couple from the India New Delhi Mission assisting with leadership development and humanitarian appears likely in the foreseeable future.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Updated Country Profile - Brunei

Click here to access the updated Reaching the Nations country profile for Brunei. With a small population of less than half a million, Brunei has a predominantly Malay population and some of the most significant religious freedom restrictions in Southeast Asia. The Church had two member groups in Brunei approximately 10 years ago, although it is unclear whether these groups both continue to operate. The Church's district based in Miri, East Malaysia administers to Church members in Brunei. See below for the Future Prospects section of this updated article:

With a small population and heavy government restrictions on non-Muslim faiths, Brunei is unlikely to experience significant church growth in the medium-term future. No other Muslim nation in Southeast Asia is as intolerant towards Christians. Government restrictions and Malay cultural customs limit missionary efforts among religious minorities to personal contacts of Church members in Brunei. Prospects exist for groups to mature into independent branches under the Miri East Malaysia District if foreign members with leadership experience remain active and stay in the country for extended periods of time. Greater progress will not occur until local members join the Church in greater numbers. Additional foreign members who relocate to Brunei may help strengthen congregations if they are able to locate them. Information on meetinghouse locations accessible upon request to Church Headquarters or mission headquarters may have a tremendous impact on better organization and accounting of members in the country, and help establish a more permanent Church presence in the long term.

Monday, July 1, 2019

June 2019 Newsletter

Click here to access the June 2019 newsletter for