Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Most Encouraging and Discouraging Church Growth Developments for 2019

Click here to access an article I just posted on www.cumorah.com regarding the 10 most encouraging and 10 most discouraging Church growth developments during 2019.

28 comments:

Nephi said...

Great analysis. Thanks for all your hard work and keeping us up-to-date on LDS growth.

coachodeeps said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eduardo said...

Great job on top ten and bottom ten indicators. Encouraging to see good new growth in a few Caribbean islands. Certain African nations continue to bloom while some are not reached yet.
Western countries struggle with secular/immoral social causes, but we try to hold on to every disciple of Christ that we can.
Must continue to minister visit all our people. Do it.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think the formation of missions in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Camerroon and a second mission in Mozambique will greatly advance the work.

Christopher Duerig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Duerig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

Thank you, Matt, for this great report, and for all the fine continued work you did in 2019 to keep us informed of such developments. The Lord is prospering His work where the proper conditions allow it to be so, and for the areas where problems exist, it will be up to the Church member citizens who follow the counsel of President Ballard to pray for their nations and the political leaders thereof that will likely make the ulitmate and lasting difference.

A few updates, if I may: First of all, on the temple front, as 2019 drew to a close, I posted a few different temple projects, which you can find on my blog at the following web address:

https://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

Secondly, I heard again early on New Year's Day 2020 from my Central American Churcch member contact, who provided updated information on the 3 temples most recently announced within that area:

https://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com/2019/12/final-temple-construction-progress.html?showComment=1577891850937#c2242783797207473044

If the previous assertion from this member is correct (that ground is expected to be broken for all 3 temples before the end of the first half of 2020) there will almost certainly be announcements in that respect relatively soon. I also anticipate that coming announcements will be made in short order regarding the groundbreaking arrangements for the Auckland New Zealand Temple and for open house and dedication arrangements for the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple within the next week or two.

Above and beyond that, however, KSL provided on-air updates over the weekend and through New Year's Night indicating that full-scale renovation efforts on the Salt Lake Temple are expected to get underway officially later today (January 2). So there will be a lot to look forward to. And finally, in an unusual move, the Newsroom, the Church News, and the blog on the Church's official website provided on New Years Day an invitation from President Nelson for 2020, in conjunction with his statement about it being a bicentennial year that will feature a unique April 2020 General Conference. You can find the web addresses for those resources in the following comment from my blog:

https://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com/2019/12/final-temple-construction-progress.html?showComment=1577925256840#c1340723605867288453

So there will be a lot to look forward to between now and the April General Conference. In the meantime, I want to extend my personal best wishes to all of you for a happy, safe, healthy, and prosperous 2020. Thanks.

Tony said...

As usual the church is late to the game Seventh day adventist and Jehovah's witnesses have been in these countries over a hundred years! The church could really do with upping its game. The Jehovah's witnesses just announced they have material in over a thousand languages and baptised over 300,000 in 2019. Why is the church always playing catch up?

Whizzbang said...

is that number correct, 100,000 people have their name removed every year since 2014? That is wild! I know people go inactive but that many people having their name removed seems unreal

Christopher Nicholson said...

That number includes the members who died.

Downtownchrisbrown said...

The 100000 includes deaths as well

James Anderson said...

Almost every ward has a death every so often, many several a year, and even if the funeral isn't held in that meetinghouse often the bishop will announce something regarding either the death or the funeral.

Pascal Friedmann said...

Name removals, as a general rule of thumb, are quite rare. During my time in the Church, I've not encountered a single occasion of a name removal, even during the years when I was in a position to hear about it (clerk callings, including for membership, have followed me around for a long time). At the same time, the Church does not have a full record of all deaths of nominal members. Those that are counted in this manner were most likely at least so attached to the Church that leaders would have noticed they died.

James said...

Tony, in a way I can understand the sentiments you expressed. But in a larger sense, I feel that people sometimes have a tendency to blame the Church for problems that are not necessarily of the Church's own making. As has been detailed elsewhere, there are a lot of nations in the world where the Church would be looked upon with more suspicion than other religions, especially the predominant ones in such regions. That is the main reason the Church has struggled so much in Russia, is noor t currently allowed to engage in normal activities in mainland China, and may be considered as not being as much "in the game" as some of the other religions you mentioned in other parts of the world. I won't even mention areas fraught with political turmoil, or corrupt leadership, or areas where high religious persecution prevails and remains the status quo.

As for areas where those types of conditions do not exist, there may still be a tendency to blame the Church for not doing nearly enough to expand its' reach. But in all such instances, my preference is to remember that the Lord said, "I will hasten my work in its' time", and that He has also said "My ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Additionally, what the First Presidency said in response to the whistleblower's alleged complaint of financial wrongdoing by the Church also may hold true for other factors, particularly the statement that "claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information." Whether or not the Church is able to be more transparent regarding the reasoning behind what is and is not done in and for the Church and the world, the fact of the matter is that for those of us not privvy to deliberations and conversations and the decision-making process which are going on at Church headquarters, we can pontificate about the Church's supposed oversights and shortcomings, but may be doing so based on incomplete information.

As far as people who have had their names removed from the records of the Church, I do have a direct connection to one such individual. As my only brother grew into adulthood, he became disatisfied with the way that my parents made efforts to keep his life on track. He gradually stopped attending Church regularly, did whatever he could to push the envelope as far as distancing himself from the Church (and, to varying degrees within the last decade or so, from our family as well). I have recounted here how, around 2-3 years ago, he announced to everyone on Facebook that he was withdrawing his name from the Church membership records. That was primarily due to the fact that he met and married a woman who, due to a familial situation of her own, did not speak or talk very warmly about the Church. The irony was, however, that even as my brother distanced himself from the Church, the woman he eventually married convinced him to resume and maintain regular contact with the rest of our family.

The odd thing about his situation was that no matter how much of the family he did not maintain contact with, he always stayed in touch with and showed concern for and interest in me, and when it comes to our attitudes about the Church, we have been polar opposites during that period of time. But in that respect, we have always had a bond where we can fail to see eye-to-eye on a variety of aspects, but there is still a concern for one another and a desire to maintain contact. So in the example of my brother, I hope there is some insight some of you here can glean on the question of those who have their names removed from the records. I can't say my personal experience in that respect is the typical or normal status quo, but I hope these insights, such as they are, are helpful to those who read them. Thanks.

Bryan Dorman said...

Mexico seems to have stopped hemorraghing congregations which is good. I can tell you that in certain sectors the congregation amount is increasing again. This has necessitated the formation of two new stakes in Puebla over the past couple of years and another that should form during this year, which would be the third stake in the Nealtican area.

I don't want you to report on that development until I can find official confirmation that a stake WILL form on a specific date. But the Nealtican area is a very interesting case because it is a town with less than 20,000 people, with chapels on almost every other street corner. Without a doubt it is the highest concentration of members anywhere in Mexico, outside of the northern colonies.

Cory said...

Hey everyone, I just wanted to to share with you a project that I've been working on. Just for curiosity sake, I began looking at the locations of church meetinghouses in various parts of the world to see what infrastructure the church had in various cities. I started to take screen shots on Google street view of the chapels that I found interesting. Then I just started saving pictures of all the chapels as I researched different parts of the world. I've built up a good stock of photos, so I decided to create a Facebook page to share them. I'm going to post the pictures of the chapels from a certain stake in the church on a daily basis.

https://www.facebook.com/latterdaysaintchapels/

So if you are interested in church meetinghouses, location, outreach, architecture, and regional variation, then please like the page. I just barely created the page and I don't have experience building a social media following, so any help in sharing the page is appreciated.

Eduardo said...

The Restored Church is not the most effective evangelizer, as evidenced in mentioned growth by the JWs and SDAs in certain parts of the world. Adventists and Witnesses have their own methods of growth, expansion, retention, which does not involve promulgation of the Book of Mormon or temple work, for example. These efforts can slow down proselitization in many ways near and far, but we believe (at least I do) that the Lord has His purposes and ways of the Restoration of All Things.
Line Upon Line.
Sounds cliche, but it is true.
Just as us individuals are very imperfect in our ways and efforts to help spread Zion (i.e. ministering, evangelizing, family history, service...) the Church itself is as human as us.
But it will continue as prophesied, and fullfill all its aims.
For prophet. Not for profit.
100 k per year removed from rolls seems about right, considering the parable of the seeds in the various types of earth.

John Pack Lambert said...

My first response is because we do not want to see the total disintegration from core doctrines the Jehovah's Witnesses saw in the Congo and some other southern African countries in the early 20th century.

Translating the Book of Mormon is more difficult than translating a few basic tracts.

The biggest factor is the importance of temples. Never under estimate the need to build temples everywhere.

John Pack Lambert said...

It would also include excomunications which are distinct from name removals.

John Pack Lambert said...

I once knew someone who was listed as dead on Church records but was still alive.

I have known people who had their name removed from the records of the Church. My branch has one case that probably should be because after their baptism their legal guardian cut all contact with the Church. This was a somewhat elderly person so the whole matter is confusing. My branch has a very large number of people living in group homes in its boundaries.

John Pack Lambert said...

Some commentators here seem to underestimate how much ideas related to polygamy slow the growth of the Church. On the other hand in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa an uncompromising opposition to polygamy may slow Church growth.

Eduardo said...

Yep, questions about modern day prophets, history of polygamy, blacks and priesthood, 10 percent tithing, Word of Wisdom.. . there are plenty of non-traditional Christian issues to deal with, plus regular Christian ones for people to accept.

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

The recent developments noted here seems to me to point to a trend of islands and island nations be being better fit with the LDS gospel message. Examples like Cape Verde, growth in the Caribbean areas, as well as continued historic growth in Phillipines, Polynesian Islands (Tonga, Samoa French Polynesia etc) and even England and New Zealand as examples. I have my own guesses but I am curious any one's thoughts on why that might be?

Also @John Pack Lambert to me temples and fam history are the most important because that is what LDS are uniquely able to contribute. Seventh Day Adventists, JW's and others can and are teaching about Jesus and are really reaching those places laying that base level Christian understanding. If you think about it as team effort we (LDS) are staying focused doing what we're best at.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

I like that train of thinking, Skorance.

A lot of the other proselytizing churches have gone in and laid a foundation that we can build upon, particularly in Buddhist, Islamic, and Hindu nations.

Speaking of other religions, one great thing about the Catholic (as well as Anglican and other similar churches) being around so long is that they kept pretty good records: marriages, baptisms, etc. We can now go back in many cases and offer conversion to those on the other side who were members of other churches throughout their whole lives - entire generations of families from other religions, in fact.

Unknown said...

do you really think the Lord is prospering his work. While at the same time the Sda and JW grow in much larger numbers. Both Organizations were still very small when the LDS church was firmly established in Utah back in 1930 but have been overtaken. And today nearly treads water in most developed nations.

James said...

Yes, I absolutely do. But I also think that some people confuse prosperity and high success rates. THey are not always one and the same thing. Areas where the Church has successfully been established could be considered as prospering in the gospel if the Saints in those regions are doing well to live the gospel and strengthen each other as individuals and families, as congregations, as missions and areas, and as a whole, to the very best of their abilities. In Africa, there are many unreached areas. But the prosperity of the Church in Africa is more accurately measured by the fact that a third area will become operation therein in August of this year (the Africa Central Area, which is being created from a division of the current Africa Southeast Area between the new area and what will be renamed the Africa South Area).

Another great measure of the Church's prosperity is in the fact that, even as so many new temples are under construction, so many previously-operating temples are able to be simultaneously closed for renovation, including the larger-sized Hamilton New Zealand, Hong Kong China, St. George Utah, and iconic Salt Lake Temple, and so many others are being queued up for a likely groundbreaking within the next 12-18 months (there are 19 such temples currently).

The Church is also prospering by saving money on building operational costs through the transition to the two-hour Church. President Nelson has enacted measures that will unify an increasingly-diversified Church membership in so many respects. Church leaders, from our beloeved prophet, to his apostolic colleagues, to the general authority seventies, to the general auxiliary leaders, are finding more and more effective ways to reach a global audience with their messaging, both through social media and through frequest travels. Area, mission, temple, and congregational leaders are doing all they can in their various stewardships to ensure that Church members adapt to the many changes that are being made, and that the members over whom they have a direct stewardship are having their needs met. Individuals, families, and congregatiosn have also been blessed to take on more direct personal and group responsibility for what we are getting out of our Sunday meetings every week.

James said...

And General Conferences every April and October allow the Saints to gather as one body to receive instruction and inspiration from general Church leadership. By all of these measures, the Church is prospering quite well. In short, there is more truth than we might realize at times in the message found in the words of the second verse of "Let Us All Press On", which says:

We will not retreat, though our numbers may be few
When compared with the opposite host in view;
But an unseen pow’r will aid me and you
In the glorious cause of truth. (emphasis added by me)

The Prophet Joseph SMith laid out more on this in the following statement: "the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

We are seeing a fulfillment of that statement in what is happening in our day. And as Daneil prophesied, the little stone is rolling forward in our day, and will continue to do so. But there is another side to all of this that I would like to point out here, in relation to the statement that "no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing." While that is absolutely true, it is similarly true that no unhallowed hand will be able to help move it forward. If we allow ourselves to get so focused on the minutae of the numbers involved that we lose sight of the fact that the Lord is, in fact prospering His work person-by-person, family-by-family, congregation-by-congregation, region-by-region, and on a CHurchwide basis, then I fear we are missing the mark.

On a monthly basis, the developments reported through official Church websites, such as the Church News and the official Church website, along with unofficial personally-owned and maintained-websites that cover Church-related developments (which include the Church of Jesus Christ Temples website, this blog, and my own blog, just to name a few), provide in their coverage ample evidence of how, in what manner, to what extent, and in which respects, the Church is truly prospering. The information found in each of those outlets speaks for itself as to the prosperity, strength, and yes, even the success of the Church. Hope this answer is helpful.