Saturday, April 2, 2022

2021 Statistical Report

This afternoon, the Church reported the following statistics as of December 31st, 2021.

  • Membership: 16,805,400 (increase of 141,737 from 2020; a 0.85% annual increase)
  • Congregations: 31,315 (increase of 179 from 2020; a 0.57% annual increase)
  • Stakes: 3,498 (increase of 35 from 2020; a 1.01% annual increase)
  • Districts: 520 (decrease of 17 from 2020; a 3.17% annual decrease)
  • Missions: 407 (increase of 2 from 2020; a 0.49% annual increase)
  • Convert Baptisms: 168,283 (increase of 42,353 from 2020; a 33.6% annual increase)
  • Increase of Children on Record: 89,069 (increase of 23,629 from 2020; a 36.1% annual increase)
  • Full-time missionaries: 54,539 (increase of 2,720 from 2020; a 5.25% annual increase)
  • Church service missionaries: 36,639 (increase of 6,112 from 2020; a 20.0% annual increase)

As noted last year, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the Church's operations in nearly all areas of the world, and this has resulted in a significant decrease in growth rates for most metrics reported in the Church's annual statistical reports. For example, the number of converts baptized into the Church in 2020 was 49.4% less than 2019, and the number of children under age 8 added to Church records was 30.6% less in 2020 than in 2019. Moreover, it is also important to note that 2021 was far from a "normal" year for the Church's operations due to the ongoing pandemic, and as a result growth rates for most metrics again were less than normal but generally substantially higher than for 2020. The number of converts baptized in 2021 was 33.6% higher than in 2020, but the number of converts baptized in 2021 was 32.4% less than the number of converts baptized in 2019. There was a greater rebound in number of children added to Church records in 2021 compared to 2020 (36.1% annual increase) compared to convert baptisms, albeit the number of children added to Church records in 2021 remained less than in 2019 (5.51% less). This was probably the greatest surprise in the 2021 Statistical Report for me given I anticipated there would be children who were not blessed and not had membership records created in 2021 that would have had this done in 2021, and thus result in a "double cohort" of children of record increase. The difference between the summation of converts baptized and new children under age 8 added to Church records and net membership increase for the year totaled 115,615 - representative for most years in the past decade (generally 90,000-120,000). This indicates that the rate of deaths, excommunications, resignations, and removal of records for unbaptized children over age 8 has remained constant during this time. Good way to conceptualize membership growth during 2020 and 2021 is that the net increase in membership for these two years combined (240,364) was approximately the net increase just for the year 2019 (251,301).

Statistics regarding congregational growth and stake/district growth were unremarkable for 2021, especially given the pandemic's impact on the ability to organize and hold conferences, reduced church attendance, and travel restrictions for Church leaders. The net decrease in the number of districts for 2021 was 17 - the largest drop in the number of districts since 2013. However, the number of districts in the Church has steadily decreased at a very low rate every year since 2009 (primarily due to the rate of districts maturing into stakes outpacing the creation of new districts). The net increase in the number of stakes for 2021 was 35 - nine more than 2020, but nonetheless the smallest net increase in the number of stakes (excluding 2020) since 2010. The annual rate of congregational growth for 2021 slightly slowed compared to 2020 to 0.57% - the lowest rate reported since 2018 (when significant congregation consolidations in Mexico artificially lowered the net increase for the year).

There was a significant increase in the number of Church service missionaries in 2021 compared to 2020 (20.0% increase), and the number of Church service missionaries in 2021 was the highest reported by the Church except for when an all-time record for this statistic was set in 2018 (37,963). However, the number of full-time, proselytizing members serving full-time missions increased by only 2,720 (5.25%) to 54,539. Again, it appears that the ongoing pandemic resulted in many young single adults postponing or cancelling plans to serve full-time missionaries. The many messages in General Conference addresses shared today regarding the importance of full-time missionary service for young men is likely in direct response to these disappointing missionary statistics and increasing opportunities for Church growth in the near future. At year-end 2019, the Church reported 67,021 full-time missionaries which indicates an 18.6% decrease for the two-year period. The Church reported gradual increases in the number of members serving full-time missions in the late 2000s and early 2010s from 51,736 in 2009 to 58,990 in 2012 (just a few months after the announcement on the lowering of the minimum age for full-time missionary service) until the number of members serving full-time missions reached an artificial high of 85,147 in 2014 that resulted from a double-cohort of age groups serving full-time missions (i.e., members who began their service at the previous minimum age versus members beginning their service at the revised age). After this double-cohort passed, the number of members serving full-time missions settled to around 65,000-70,000.


Cody Quirk said...

A very good improvement from our 2020 numbers, imo.
Looks like church growth is getting back into the swing of things as the COVID restrictions get lifted. 👍

Chris D. said...

Matt, in this Statistical Report (01/01/2021 - 12/31/2021), you state there was a net decrease of total of 17 Districts in the same period. But I only count 13 Discontinued Districts for the year 2021 in your list. Do you know which were the other 4 missing Discontinued Districts from your list? Sorry, I'm just curious because the numbers don't add up. Once again I appreciate all your great research and reporting to us common laymen here with Growth Statistics.

R. Jofre said...

Probably the remaining districts were upgraded to stakes. Not discontinued but still subtracted from the districts total and added to the stakes total.

Сњешко said...

That would make sense to me

James said...

In your analysis, is it appropriate to compare 2021 to 2020, or 2019? 2020 feels like such an anomaly, but is 2021 also considered kind of a throwaway year because of COVID?

I expected a bunch of pent-up demand for baptisms and new members of record from 2020 to hit in 2021, but it isn't looking that way when you compare 2021 and 2019 numbers.

James said...

It looks like you also expected some pent up numbers from 2020 coming through in 2021 when you analyzed 2020 numbers, Matt. Some quotes from 2020:

"However, the dramatic decline of approximately 30,000 in 2020 appears primarily due to delays in blessing children among infants born to church members...It is anticipated that the increase in children of record for 2021 may be much higher than 2020 or previous years if COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed and conditions continue to normalize."

"The Church reported only 51,819 members serving full-time proselytizing missions as of year-end 2020. The number of full-time missionaries widely vacillated during the year due to temporary releases or early permanent releases of full-time missionaries during the year. Many members have appeared to chose to postpone missionary service until conditions further normalize. Nevertheless, many members continue to begin missionary service, albeit their numbers appear less than normal. This is also a likely metric to see a significant and temporary increase in 2021 if conditions continue to improve."

But, "... the pandemic did not appear to significantly change trends with deaths, excommunications, resignations, or removal of unbaptized children of record over age 8 for the year 2020."

" late 2020 there were also reports of some missions where the number of mostly convert baptisms surpassed the number of baptisms for the same month in 2019."

All of these data from 2020 seem to point to a temporary abnormal increase in growth numbers for 2021 compared to normal years like 2019. I'd like to see a juxtaposition between what we expected 2021 to look like a year ago vs. what has happened.

Matt said...

Christopher Duerig - eight districts were organized in 2021 and 13 districts were discontinued. There were 12 districts that were reorganized into stakes. This results in a net decrease of 17 districts.

John Pack Lambert said...

I have been told pandemic service conditions have also lead to many missionaries returning home early or being reassigned to service missions who would have been able to serve longer without the level of being cooped up.

In some wayslots of places did not really even start heading back towards normal until February 2022 and the ending of the omicron wave, and there are still many restrictions and limitations.

Because of this I am hoping 2022 will see numbers turn around.

I also have to wonder if some children born in 2020 might not be accounted for in records until 2028 when they are baptized.

Ohhappydane33 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris D. said...

Matt, Thank you for clarifying my error in doing the math. I had not taken into account the ones that had been reorganized as new Stakes. And the 8 new Districts. Thank you.

Cody Quirk said...

"I expected a bunch of pent-up demand for baptisms and new members of record from 2020 to hit in 2021, but it isn't looking that way when you compare 2021 and 2019 numbers."

Nice 'expectations'; unfortunately they're unrealistic. We still had various COVID restrictions in various countries that still stunted church growth; yet not as bad as 2020 did- so these numbers are actually good and realistic of the international climate of today -for missionary work.

Adam said...

I know a decrease in districts shows that there is less organic growth in new regions, but I see it more as a good thing that so many are getting upgraded and existing stakes are splitting. 25 years ago back in 1996 districts used to take up 23% of the total with stakes at 77%, now it is up to 87% stakes and just 13% districts. As the world fills with members you gotta think that one day there will hardly be any districts left, the Philippines alone moved that number a percent in just the last 15 years with all the districts they've been upgrading.

I like to run 5-year averages to help tease out irregularities. Even before Covid, the five year average for child of record had decreased every single year since peaking in 2012. Covid has only made it worse. It is now at the lowest level since 2005.

Utah had the 6th highest rate of being infected with Covid, but the 3rd lowest death rate in the nation, so Covid didn't really hurt the membership numbers there like I thought it would.

Adam said...

I have seen a lot of anecdotal examples of missionaries coming home 6-9 months early due to Covid stuff and restrictions in foreign countries that might have very well still have been serving. I would expect there to be a big jump in missionary numbers just from Elders and Sisters serving as long as they are supposed to.

MainTour said...

Isn't supposed to be 3499 stakes at 12.31.22? Is there a discontinued stake missing from Matt's reporting?

L. Chris Jones said...

It's also nice to see significant growth in service missionaries. In the past that was a cohort that did not get the chance to serve at all or the numbers weren't counted at all.

Shelama said...

It seems most likely that the long-term downward trend in the growth-rate of the Mormon church is continuing, irrespective of both COVID and the anomalous uptick in 2019. The fall below the world population growth-rate is probably real, even as active Mormons may comprise only 0.000640 or less of the total world population.

Even as the real decline in children of record continues.

The disproportionate membership increase in Africa plus elsewhere in the developing and impoverished world is probably maintained, even as the huge challenge in long-term retention of converts beyond 2 or 3 or 5 years is also. It seems that Mormon missionaries are ultimately producing more inactive Mormons than active.

In the foreseeable future, the Mormon church will likely be required to use their “Gospel Topics Essays” as their missionary curriculum even though that is very clearly never their intended purpose (for very obvious reasons).

A real and meaningful solution for the growth and missionary problems of the Mormon church would be to convert ALL of their full-time missionaries into service missionaries who leave their Book of Mormon home. Golden investigators will seek out the Mormon church and Mormon missionaries, even as those missionaries do some actual real good in the world. There would be more about Mormonism that reflects Jesus than mere words or a church name. Plus, all that fruitless time wasted tracking and knocking on doors would be saved, while baptisms and retention would increase.

Cody Quirk said...

I call into question the accuracy of your claims and perspective, Shelama.

James said...

Cody, I concur. Since the claims in the prior comment repeatedly referred to "the Mormon Church", which has been inaccurate for at least 3.5 years, and since official information recently released directly counters that viewpoint, you are rightly skeptical.

Eduardo said...

Shelama, based on your perspective and conclusions, you negate a powerful narrative of faith in Jesus Christ and the Restoration of all things through this Church, which claims to be His. My parents were fruits of those missionaries that you claim to be less effective in their tracting and seeking believers, as Christ and the original apostles of Him plus Paul did across the globe.
Africa (a huge continent with many nations with little Christian presence) has a fast population rate as noted, but this is where the Church is growing faster than most places. Converts are being retained, better than much of the world.
While many members fall away, long time and short term both, the Church of the Saviour is still filling the earth as prophesied for thousands of years, and the Lord is gathering Israel, one conversion at a time.
It is happening.
God bless you and all of us to understand this.

John Pack Lambert said...

The number of districts may not be easily comparable over time. Before World War II there were large areas of the Church where all district presidents were young full time missionaries.

Since World War II this has been rare, but in some places they seem to not create districts until there is more depth of local leadership that was once the case.

They also seem to wait for more local development in some areas to move branches to full groups than was once the case.

That said, at few years ago when Uganda hit 2 stakes it had no districts. Today it has 3 stakes and 3 districts. So there are various stages in growth.

I am hopeful that there are several countries in Africa, Liberia and Tanzania are two I am looking at, that will see several new districts soon. However Ivory Coast may soon see several of its districts upgrade to stakes. DR Congo may also see several new districts in the next 2 years, they in the last year or so have begun moving out to new areas.

One thing to keep in mind is district out a huge strain on mission presidents. They also provide no patriarch. Mission presidents have to prepare new people for missions and issue temple recommends in districts. They also have much of the Church membership counsel duties of stake presidents. I believe their counselors can do some of these duties like stake president counselors, but this can be a lot of things to do. This is one reason why in 1924 when the average mission had 34 missionaries mission presidents were not less busy.

I am not sure how the president of the Ivory Coast Yamasoukro Mission actually oversees all the work he has from the many districts in his mission.

John Pack Lambert said...

I was released about 3 months early due to mental health issues. Under the current system they might have given me a service assignment for those last 3 months. I had a missionary in my MTC district released about a month into his mission who I am even more sure would have been given a service assignment under the old system.

I am not sure 3 months would get a reassignment even under the current system.

That said a big percentage of service missionaries are senior missionaries. This number has not been reported very far back.

Christopher Nicholson said...

It's kind of funny and pathetic when someone tries to be annoying by saying "Mormon" as many times as humanly possible.

Ohhappydane33 said...

It's kind of funny and pathetic that you all are so easily offended by a comment that you don't agree with, but in no way surprising in this echo chamber of comments.

Сњешко said...

I know I haven't been the best at this in the past and I intend no offense nor lack of politeness, but could we tone down the rhetoric a little bit? I would hate to have the comment section restricted again

Jim Anderson said...

Even in the stakes in emerging areas, the local leadership is still learning how to run the church. In DR Congo they sometimes just simply teach how to use a computer, which is something most have not seen.

I stumbled across a stake conference in Uganda online over a year ago. The building itself wass unlike those we see in the US, the pews were arranged like you see in some other houses of worship with a center aisle, not three groups of pews. The rostrum was not raised and more simple millwork (or was it no discernable miillwork) on the front.

The counselor tasked with doing the sustainings used the 'officers sustained' form but he did so slowly and deliberately so as to be sure he did not miss someone. The speakers seemed tentative too, that also likely because the subjects and even the doctrines unique to us were new to them.

The speaker that sounded best was none other than Elder Matumbo as he had been called as a general authority seventy only the year before.

brycen said...

JPL, that is a good question as to how a mission president manages all his responsibilities when he has many districts within the mission.

When I served in Brazil, there were at least 4 districts within the mission boundaries - the 2 mission president's counselors lived in 2 of them. The mission stretched a long way from east to west. I got to serve in one of those distant areas, which was a 7-hour bus ride away from the main city where the mission president lived. The mission president counselor lived within the branch I was in, and his wife served us a meal every week.

I know the counselor met with a young woman who was preparing to go on a full-time mission. He would have also attended the branches to present new callings that required mission approval. And he no doubt traveled to one of the other districts to do these duties too, since he would have been much closer than the mission president. He later became the first Stake president in the area - 3 of those districts have now become Stakes.

I suppose this mission president in Cote d'Ivoire has to lean on his counselors a lot, hopefully they are geographically placed to reduce travel distances as in the case of my mission in Brazil. You make a lot of good points, I'm thinking about the disadvantages of having to wait for a leader to visit for an interview, or even the travel needed to get a patriarchal blessing.

We still have just a few districts within the US, so it can be easy for those of us used to being in Stakes to forget about the challenges that members in those more distant locations face.

It is exciting to see both Stakes, and temples coming closer to the members all over the world. I recently read the article about Elder Soares, where he mentioned that he was unable to receive his endowment until the last month of his mission. These things have happened in many places, but I am hopeful that the new announcements we will have shortly, will reduce the frequency of this even more. Also exciting is the improvements in dealing with the Coronavirus, as exemplified by the things we see in this General Conference.

Shelama said...

Regarding the long-term decline in the growth-rate of the Mormon church — which is trending towards flatline — plus the high inactivity rate in the Mormon church world-wide, church-wide (which the meticulous Martinich puts at up to 70% or more), the biggest problem the Mormon church has is encapsulated in the “Gospel Topic Essays” and the Joseph Smith Papers Project, and at BYU and FAIR.

Regardless how and why and what faithful Mormons believe — and nobody begrudges that, of course — their very own life-long devout and tithe-paying, returned-missionary and temple-married spouse or child or parent would be totally reasonable and sensible and justified to conclude for themselves that….

• There never was the supposedly foundational “first vision” that first pops up in Mormonism very quietly in the story in 1838 in Joseph Smith’s journal.
• There never were any ancient golden plates nor any translation or revelation or inspiration in the creation of the Book of Mormon.
• The Book of Mormon is a 19th-century invention by a highly orthodox and even trinitarian (or Modalist or confused) sectarian Protestant Christian with the KJV.
• The “witnesses” to the Book of Mormon and some metallic plates were totally incompetent to authenticate either ancient plates, actual translation, or “the gift and power of God.”
• Joseph Smith fabricated the Mormon priesthoods, after-the-fact, and retrojected them back into his story and scriptures as a “restoration.”
• The Book of Abraham is a modern work and even a “fraud” by Joseph Smith.
• The angel with the (flaming?) sword and D&C 132 and polygamy were all just inventions by Joseph Smith.
• Burning bosoms and other common religious experiences aren’t any holy ghost nor manifestation of truth and knowledge.

From the common evidence that we all share — and regardless that faithful Mormons believe — those are all perfectly valid solutions to the problems and the evidence.

And it’s not only not-lazy and not-lax Mormons who can re-evaluate and very reasonably conclude in the negative against such Mormon truth claims, so also can investigators into Mormonism, more so all the time in those places where the Internet had previously lagged behind. It’s going to be doubly problematic when the Mormon church is eventually forced to use those “Gospel Topic Essays” for their missionary curriculum.

For those reasons and more, the Mormon church really should convert ALL of it’s full-time missionaries into service missionaries, to let their good works shine and be a true reflection of Jesus. Golden investigators will beat a path to their doors.

Tom said...

Shelama, I don't equate the validity of the church with it's growth. If I did I'd probably attend a church which seems to be growing faster, possibly the SDA or JW's.

Instead, opposition and hurdles to church growth in many ways reaffirms to me that the gospel, similar to the time of Christ, is under full scale assault from Satan and in all the likelihood the church will remain a small minority of the world leading up to Christ's Second Coming.

Where I live our Ward has decreased by roughly 30 percent since covid. This includes move outs and many lukewarm members not wanting to return to activity. Even if the church in my area decreased to just my family I would continue to attend. Growth rates and statistics are fun but my testimony is rooted in recieving a personal answer from the Holy Ghost.

Conference was great this weekend. You should watch the talks.

Eduardo said...

It’s rather easy to fall into rhetoric about personal feelings. It’s also easy to misinterpret what peoples’ feelings mean when they react to others’ opinions and understandings of things.
I by know means know it all.
It is good to use facts to substantiate points.
Faith is hard to define, hard to affirm, validate.
Best of luck, I hope you do not take my words as pathetic or funny, but to each his own. Free to choose, we are blessed.
May the Lord guide and protect us, and develop His children (us), through spiritual and temporal growth.
Press forward, Saints.

Daniel Moretti said...


brycen said...

One of the greatest evidences for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the promise in Moroni 10:3-5, which has been fulfilled for millions of people. The fact that any person, reading the book sincerely, can pray and receive their own witness from God as to its truth (something I have done personally), is not something that any fraudster, or any con man, could possibly manufacture. I have never seen an alternate explanation for the founding of this Church that really had a good explanation for the spiritual fruits we see in this Church. I have experienced it myself many time, sometimes when I was not looking for a spiritual experience but had one anyway, for example meeting a General Authority, Stake President, or even Institute teacher who just radiates a feeling that they love everyone, a spiritual power that penetrates me even when I was not feeling very spiritual. Receiving counsel and revelation from the Lord, even if it was telling me to do something that was inconvenient. I don't claim to be better than anyone, but I do know that these spiritual experiences are real.

Your so-called valid explanations are not valid if they can't explain how a fraudulently founded Church could bless millions of lives, and still have millions of members almost 180 years after the death of the founder. And if it's so easy to manufacture these spiritual feelings to confirm a fraud, why don't other religious organizations do this?

If we wanted to be like other churches, and just focus on publishing scriptural or historical arguments for everything, we might grow faster, we might have less online opposition, but it would not be the right thing to do. It would go against our very identity, as a Church that is founded on modern, continuous revelation from God.

Of course, if someone doesn't believe in revelation from God, any other explanation will seem preferable, to the one that Joseph Smith gave. To me, the simplest, and most valid explanation, is that he was telling the truth.

Thanks for referencing the Gospel Topics Essays - they are a great source for those with historical concerns, and they are very well written and sourced. But they are not an explanation of the basic doctrines of the gospel, which is what those investigating the Church need to learn first. They don't teach people how to draw nearer to God. The Book of Mormon, the other scriptures, the gospel lessons taught by missionaries do.

The gospel lessons are all about Jesus Christ - it is not lip-service, or just an afterthought to use his name in the name of the Church. Your insistent refusal to use the correct name of the Church, which has been the name for over 180 years, speaks volumes.

brycen said...

17 new temples announced, in the final moments of General conference!

Many in locations I didn't expect, at least not in the top tier I thought most likely.

All of them will be blessings to the people in those areas.

Fredrick said...

Austin is the only temple on this list that was announced. Missoula is getting a temple after all! And no new Utah temples.

brycen said...

Here they are:

Wellington, New Zealand
Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
Barcelona, Spain
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Cusco, Peru
Maceió, Brazil
Santos, Brazil
San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Mexico City Benemérito, Mexico
Tampa, Florida
Knoxville, Tennessee
Cleveland, Ohio
Wichita, Kansas
Austin, Texas
Missoula, Montana
Montpelier, Idaho
Modesto, California

brycen said...

It's true, no new Utah temples, but the one in Idaho is pretty close. (For a second, I thought he was going to announce a temple in Vermont).

twinnumerouno said...

Whoever said Kansas would be the next state to get its first temple was right. Still no new temple for Arizona or Washington.

8 of the 17 new temples are in the US, which seems like a higher percentage than what we have seen lately.

England is getting a 3rd temple before Scotland or Ireland gets one.

New Zealand will have 3 temples, all on North Island.

There were quite a few surprises in this list.

Shelama said...

Instead of filling the whole earth in the last days as it was supposed to as per Joseph Smith’s prophecy — and where active Mormons now comprise only about 0.000638 of the total world population — the Mormon church is just dotting the earth with Mormon temples in hopes of keeping more Mormons active and improving their retention rate.

Which is interesting when the historical or Biblical Jesus knew that Yahweh had only one Temple, and it was in Jerusalem, and had nothing to do with either marriages or baptism for the dead.

It’s actually kind of sad what’s happening to the Mormon church, and Matt’s disappointment and concern about the surprisingly low number of “children of record” in 2021 reflects a real and highly significant reality…the Mormon church in 2021 lost 25,000 more members from all reasons than it gained new “children of record.” This on top of the long-term decline in converts, plus the 70% inactivity that Matt has also reported. And all of that on top of the “Gospel Topic Essays” and FAIR, etc., plus all of those completely valid and reasonable justified negative conclusions.

I really do hope the Mormon church converts ALL of its full-time missionaries into service missionaries else its period of flat growth and then negative growth will arrive sooner rather than later. A bright spot for Mormonism continues to be Black Africa, and within 100 years the prophet/president and half the 12 will be black, which I personally consider a good and positive thing…Black Africa is the very future of the Mormon church. One problem there is that however much Internet might still lag there, if at all. it is rapidly catching up.

brycen said...

The Church's biggest problem BY FAR, in terms of growth, is the general decline of religious belief, especially among the young, in most "Western" or developed countries. This is a problem all major religions are struggling with. It's not unique to Latter-day Saints.

Discussions about our history are a secondary reason, but I would say most people probably leave for other, more personal reasons and then use something they read or watched as a justification. I don't dispute that people are sincerely doubting, but it's usually not the only factor in their decision. It may be easier to find reasons for leaving the Church, compared to other religions but that doesn't mean the information they relied on was "valid".

If there's one thing I think we can all agree on, it's that there is A LOT of inaccurate information on the Internet.

Especially about sensitive topics like religion and politics, where people's opinions are so divided. You would think having easy access to information would unify people, but it doesn't seem to have that effect.

Shelama said...

The Mormon church is adding new temples at a much faster rate than they’re adding new members, especially much faster than they’re adding active new temple-going members. Perhaps Matt can do another piece on the activity level in the Mormon church with a specific comment on how it correlates if at all with temple-building and making it easier for Mormons to “go to the temple.” And if it has a positive impact on the retention of new converts.

Anonymous said...

Shelama, I realize that people are struggling to remain active in the gospel and in the church. I assure you, however, that it's not because of any defects in God's plan. The stone cut out of the mountain without hands will roll forward and the kingdom will last forever (Daniel's dream and prophecy). I just wish that I and everyone else would understand and live the gospel better...

The truth is, we need the temples to give us spiritual strength to be true to ourselves.

Cody Quirk said...

Yep. We have a troll here... Perhaps several. 🤔👎

Cody Quirk said...

-spoken like a critic with an axe to grind. 👎

Cody Quirk said...

Shelama is basically trolling us at this point.

Eduardo said...

Information about only one temple anciently is false. I know of at least four in the Old World, the Bible lands, not counting the ones mentioned in the New World in Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

I love to see Mexico getting new temples!

I have known Brazilian geography pretty well over the years, but I have to look up those places.

Wichita! Wow.

Great to see growth in Montana and California, both of which likely share some people in common.

Good looking out Cody. Stay strong and do temple work!
Let’s do it.

Jeff said...

This is very interesting.

I recall when the church was growing by 3, 4, 5% or more a year in the 70s, 80s, and even into the 90s. This was clearly a sign to all of us members that the church was true because it was spreading throughout the world, filling the earth, according to prophecy.

I'm not trying to be a jerk, I love the church, but as growth shrinks and stalls to 1% or even less, the narrative now seems to have flipped. Now we hear -- and I'm paraphrasing -- that Church growth is stalling because Satan is working harder against us or whatever reason, but that means the church must be true.

I don't think both propositions can be correct. Perhaps it is enough to say the church is true to an individual regardless of whether it is growing or not?

If I may, I also think that just because Shelama raises uncomfortable points doesn't make them a troll (I am assuming Shelama was the target of this accusation).

The church has not figured out a good way to address these very troubling topics and, in my opinion these issues will continue to drag down growth for the foreseeable future. The general decline in religion is affecting the church and these lingering "truth" issues just make it that much harder for a someone seeking religion to accept the Mormon church. I don't have any great solutions, just observations. Maybe we need a major reset similar to the turn of the 20th century when plural marriage was finally abandoned among other changes?

Thanks again for the fascinating blog.

Daniel Moretti said...

I agree with the need to increase service missions in the church, but you are so annoying! It's impossible to play on your side!

John Pack Lambert said...

So far this year there has been a net increase of at least 3 stakes and 2 districts. However no district has been made a stake yet this year. So it is hard to predict the rest of the year. The omicron variant and related travel shut downs seem to have caused a temporary slow down. There may be other factors. So the whole year seems unpredictable from the first quarter.

Pascal Friedmann said...

I am not in the least worried about growth metrics of the Church. Active membership is evidently increasing. The vast majority of the world population (even in countries with high levels of religious freedom) is unreached or underreached. It's much harder to appreciate in a laissez-faire society such as the US when it comes to Covid restrictions in 2021, but 1% growth for a year like last year is impressive, given that proselyting and Church meetings were not possible for a large percentage of countries in the world during much or even all of it. There are indications that convert baptisms are up again in 2022 in countries that have a history of contributing relatively high numbers of baptisms per missionary especially, and unit creations have started to rebound to pre-pandemic levels as of March, especially in North America. There is really not a lot of evidence from a data analysis standpoint that points to more than a pandemic-induced, temporary slowdown. Yes, in some metrics, such as stake creations, this may drag on for several years because there is a bit of a lag between convert baptisms and the critical level of baptisms reached to create a new stake, so we will chew on this for a while. But I still find annual growth rates between 2 and 3% achievable and realistic for the coming decades until declining world population becomes a factor.

twinnumerouno said...

Unknown at 9:13 PM,

I was thinking about your question last night. I believe some Book of Mormon passages I read last night are relevant to this discussion. First I randomly opened to Alma 30:53, where Korihor said he had thought that his success in preaching meant his words were true, but the full story in that chapter shows that he was wrong.

I had been thinking about Nephi's vision too, so I then read 1 Nephi 14:12 showing that the "church of the Lamb" in the last days would spread across the whole world but would have small numbers. (We are now seeing the fulfillment of this description, but nowhere does it mention growth rates or say that there will be constant growth. More important is that we live the gospel so that verse 14 can be fulfilled- applying the things we have just been taught in conference will help us to get there.)

I then again randomly flipped, this time to Alma 32:21: "faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things."

I will admit that I was one who believed in the 90s, when I was a teenager and college student in the northeastern US, that rapid growth rates were an evidence of the church's truth. (For those who are aware of the projections about the growth of "Mormonism" made by Rodney Stark, clearly time has shown them to be flawed.)

It is true that the scriptures talk about wickedness and opposition in the latter days. But I would suggest that any discussion of specific growth rates is more a matter of human speculation in the face of imperfect knowledge, even if done by apostles, than of doctrinal teachings we are supposed to believe. So I'm not sure that the conflict you see is any more than people talking, trying to guess what is going on (and what is going to happen in the future) in the church we love (just as a lot of the other things we talk about on this blog).

I am just speaking for myself, but I am curious about what others on this blog think about this question. For example, are there statements from General Authorities about church growth that can be taken as authoritative? I am trying to figure out if the conflict Unknown sees is a doctrinal one, or if it is just cultural, based on hearsay and speculation.

James said...

Matt, thanks for updating this post. I appreciate you comparing the pre-pandemic period to 2021 and understand that this year is difficult to address with that context. Is there any indication what the numbers in 2021 reflect going forward? For example, since children of record added did not produce a "double cohort" this year, are you expecting a "triple cohort" next year, or is this an indication of non-temporary slipping growth on this dimension? Same question with missionaries and new units...

Cody Quirk, you said:

"Nice 'expectations'; unfortunately they're unrealistic. We still had various COVID restrictions in various countries that still stunted church growth; yet not as bad as 2020 did- so these numbers are actually good and realistic of the international climate of today -for missionary work."

I am referring to expectations as of 2020. Clearly, as you noted, hindsight changes things, with Omicron and Delta. So let me ask you - since 2021 hindered growth with COVID restrictions still in place, do you expect the backlog of children of record, and new units to cause a huge increase in numbers for 2022 and 2023? A return to normality should theoretically allow all of that growth to be unleashed that was hindered by COVID.

James said...

@twinnumerouno, one podcast discussion on this I've seen is here:

Shelama said...

Some generally reliable members in England who know people in church headquarters in Salt Lake City indicate that — to the dismay of the building & temple committee — Russell Nelson has in mind and seems obsessed with building 1000 Mormon temples around the world.

Which, given the size of the Mormon treasury — and barring a collapse of the stock market — they easily could do, of course. But which flies in the face of other realities, and of what should be more important priorities.

They also say that Manchester is a barking mad and manifestly terrible site.

So either Jesus is behind all of this — or he’s not.

Cody Quirk said...

"If I may, I also think that just because Shelama raises uncomfortable points doesn't make them a troll (I am assuming Shelama was the target of this accusation)."

No she isn't, she's just talking about the church in a condescending, disrespectful manner like a typical commentator on a Salt Lake Tribune article.
Hence her comments cannot be taken seriously.

Cody Quirk said...

Yes; I believe the numbers for next year and 2024 will be even better.
I think the actions taken by the First Presidency on changing a few things around for the church these last few years- are going to play a positive part in increasing annual growth for these next few years coming up (excluding any major calamities or potential world wars). However while it's possible we could return back to our growth rates during the late 1990s; there still will be years where membership growth might decrease and then go back up again the next year (there will always be outliers in religious demographic stats). However with all these temple announcements going on -the FP might be on to something; having temples being built all over, for one -just might actually increase church growth in these areas.

Just my 2-cents; we shall see these next few years. 🤔👍

Cody Quirk said...

Riiiiiight. 🙄🙄🙄

Anonymous said...


In terms of “dismay”, I have second-hand knowledge from about 2 years ago that the temple department was asked to move mountains, so to speak. In investment banking, people work crazy crazy hours under tremendous pressure in the pursuit of money. Is it too much to ask that the church department responsible for one of the most important work of eternal consequence work hard for the pursuit of spiritual treasure?

Anonymous said...

Cody, I have been thinking that placing temples in smaller areas will strengthen the members there and create gathering spots for people moving out of the larger cities for cost of living, quality of life, or whatever reason. We used to think of the gathering of Israel as gathering to Utah, then to stakes, but the stakes in a tent hold up the temple, which is the gathering place for now…which points us to gathering in heaven.

I think the ideal is to build temples at least everywhere where there are enough stakes to hold it up. Obviously I’m drawing heavily on the symbolic parallels to Moses’s tabernacle in the wilderness. You need at least 4 stakes to hold up a tent.

Cody Quirk said...

Some things to think about...
While 2021 growth numbers may not be as impressive as church stats of years past; remember the LDS church is still growing while many other churches (like the mainline protestant denominations) are greatly declining in their membership numbers or even fracturing/breaking off into smaller, new denominations at the same time -like what currently is happening to the United Methodist Church.

Additionally remember that some denominations suffered in attendance, membership losses, and closures during the 2020 COVID lockdowns; yet the LDS church weathered the storm and adapted to the changes; the COVID death rates among our church members remained low compared to other denominations that lost many parishioners to COVID.

There is no mistaking that portions of Christianity are in decline via numbers and influence in much of the west, and the recent virus has magnified portions of that decline more so. Yet there are also portions of Christianity that continue to grow, expand, and weather the storms of change in western society; our church is a glowing example of such.

At this point the LDS church is now the third largest Christian denomination in the US, numerically.

But there are more LDS members in the world then there are members of the Southern Baptist Convention.
There are also more LDS members in the world then there are freemasons (all factions combined)... There might even be more LDS members in the world then there are practicing Jews.

Sure, the church could be bigger and more popular with the world; yet in growth and expansion -despite the dips, curves, and varying outliers of the last few decades; our growth rates remain largely constant.
Some regions/countries might be stagnant or even in decline in church numbers; however other areas are experiencing the polar opposite, and its these regions that are the dominating factor in overall church growth.

Multi-course dinner for thought.

John Pack Lambert said...

I think having a temple close enough to a large percentage of members so they can attend during an evening is a worthwhile goal. I am not sure if it is doable for even the whole US, but for a high percentage of the US population, and similarly in Brazil, Peru, Mexico and several other countries would really help.

I would live to see 1000 temples. I would love for President Nelson to live to announce us to that level. However that is 718 more temples. Even if we announce 40 temples a year that would take over 17 years. We will get to that level, and maybe in under 17 years.

The progress to date is quite impressive. Yet we still have a city like Chiclayo with 7 or 8 stakes and no temple announced.

Eduardo said...

Unknown, you know who Mormon is. You know who the Son of God is. You know who President Nelson is.

The Church belongs in name to one of them. I belong to it, too, but it is in the name of the Messiah, the Anointed One, the greatest person who ever lived.

Not the father of Moroni, as great as he was.

Paul was awesome, too. Not his church, not of him. He would be scandalized by this, as the current Prophet teaches and reminds.

We will all meet our Maker some day, members of His faith or not.

Reverence and respect for names.

We do not say Eskimos, Indians (American natives), Negros, and other offensive or inaccurate terms anymore.

Or do we? I don’t.

Anyway, the Lord prevails whether we recognize His name and authority or not.

Hard to get it all right, true.

Downtownchrisbrown said...

@twinnumerouno I can recall being at a Stake Conference once when the Stake President prophesied that our Stake would grow and split. He then started quoting population numbers of towns in our Stake that didn't have a presence. It was really weird. The presiding authority who was attending the Conference, I believe as his first assignment as an Area 70 looked really uncomfortable and when he got up he talked about many of the other talks and affirming some of the truths in them. As best I can recall he skipped over the Stake President's talk. During the person's tenure, we actually lost a unit.

Clearly there are people who believe that the stone cut without hands that will fill the earth means that there will be growth as a sign of its truth. I believe the parable of the sower better describes the destiny - there will be some places where growth will occur but it really all depends on how the soil is prepared. There will be seasons where the soil is good, and some where the soil doesn't yield much.

James said...

While I agree that many other denominations have suffered in membership more than the LDS church, I'm not sure you really have the numbers to back up this argument that the church is a "glowing example" of growth during COVID and secularism trends.

I think if you are going to compare numbers from LDS to other denominations, you need to compare apples to apples. For example, the Episcopal Church, Jehova's Witnesses, and others only count active members as "members." If you compare LDS members to "practicing Jews," shouldn't you be comparing "practicing LDS members" to practicing Jews? By the way, the Pew Research Center estimated in 2020 there are 14.7 million practicing Jews worldwide. I think estimates for LDS practicing members are generally estimated to be between 4 and 6 million. As for U.S. Christian denominations, Pew most recently estimated LDS after Catholics, Southern Baptists, Lutherans, Historically Black Protestant (Baptist), and Jewish.

This isn't to put a damper on the party, but to be clear about what the data suggest and what they don't.

Eduardo said...

Brother Brown,
Good points made. I have been caught up in growth of the Kingdom of God as a part of my enthusiasm and part of my conviction, which is a slippery slope, and not really part of a testimony of the Lord and His Gospel and Church.
I have a natural curiosity for populations, cultures, and demographics, so that can feed into it.
But also on a personal level, I believe in growth interpersonally and intrapersonally in Church context by converts and even unit growth as buoying my faith, but over decades has been quite disappointing to my human mind and my heart.
However, we try to focus on Jesus and His will and swallow up our personal desires that may not be in accord with God’s.
All that said, I thrill and celebrate when people and units appear to come closer to the Lord and grow in number.
A bit like raising kids and watching family develop.

Randolph Finder said...

A few comments here...

(I'm a non-member married to a member)

I agree that the comparisons with other faiths such as a Jews should be done on an "active member" to "active member" basis. I don't think I've ever seen a claim that the number of "active members" defined even in the broadest sense (attended a sacrament service within the last year) is greater than 60% of the 16.8M and most estimates that I've seen are between 25% and 30% (so 4-5M).

The growth is uneven and at this minimal level does include both positives and negatives. Whether the membership drop in California is due to out-migration, those going inactive or those leaving, it is real. And I'd be very surprised if the membership drops in certain areas of Europe are out-migration. I don't believe that the church has had to deal with this level of membership drop in an area recently, the other possible reasons being the Emigration from Europe in the 19th century and the pressure of hostile governments.

The other question is whether there is anything indicating that without Covid the numbers for Church growth would not have stayed below the 2.0% per year that it has been since the 2014 growth over 2013?

I do truly wonder at this point what the guidelines (and yes, I know it is inspiration, but the Church leaders aren't going to pray about places that don't meet certain guidelines). It appears given Oslo, Norway and Brussels, Belgium that Two stakes (and a handful) or branches are enough, especially if in a country that doesn't have one.

In terms of distance east of the Rockies, Tampa to Orlando is a little under 2 hours, so I *think* that this will be the first time that someone will be able to be less than an hour from two temples anywhere east of Colorado. However, there are certainly others that are close (under 2h40m), DC to Philly, Hartford to NYC, Cleveland (new) to Detroit and Cleveland (new) to Pittsburgh (New).

Randolph Finder said...

In regards to Cody Quirk's Comment. I don't expect to see significant jumps up and down of the percentage numbers. As the church has gotten better at keeping track of members, one effect of this is to make the numbers cleaner. Are there things which could cause a large jump in one direction, sure (*true* opening of China, nuclear war between Brazil and Argentina, smallpox (much worse than COVID)), I just don't see year over year increases jumping the way that they did back in the 1980s, which had a 4.9% followed by a 3.7% followed by a 5.4%

Daniel Moretti said...

Brazil and Argentina are not nuclear powers, but beware when it comes to football!

Randolph Finder said...

True, but the Church's secret plan there is to reduce both to the same level in football as the USA by building meeting houses with Basketball hoops in order to increase interest in Basketball rather than Football. :)

(Still wonder whether the internationalization of the Church more likely to see more Basketball hoops in places like Panama or less hoops in the USA...)

James said...

Really good insight, Randolph.

I tend to agree with you: I don't expect a huge accrual of membership in 2022-23. COVID coincided with an already existing downward trend in growth.

As someone who likes statistics, I just wish we had more data. I'm already waiting anxiously to see the 2022 data come out. :)

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...


I appreciate you quoting 1 Nephi 14:12.

I'd like to add a few of my own thoughts/scriptures to yours, and to the discussion in general.

Another scripture that correlates with that one in 1st Nephi is Jacob 5:70 (from the Allegory of the Olive Tree):

"And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few."

This verse, from the context, is talking specifically about our "labor in the vineyard" here in the last days.

We even quote this passage (and others) in the Hymn, "Ye Elders of Israel":

"The harvest is great, and the lab'rers are few, but if we're united, we all things can do!" (the exclamation point was added by me). :)

Speaking of that song, I looked at the Scriptures it references in the footnotes (as they reminded me of why I and others do missionary work). I'd like to share them here:

Doctrine and Covenants 133:7–9 (& 10-13), 14

7 Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

8 Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.

9 And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry, and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about.

10 Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord.

11 Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.

12 Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion.

13 And let them who be of Judah flee unto Jerusalem, unto the mountains of the Lord’s house.

14 Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon.

So, one major reason we do missionary work is to spread faith in Jesus Christ, and to prepare as many as we can for His upcoming Second Coming.

Other reasons are listed in this other referenced Scripture from the D&C:

Doctrine and Covenants 75:2–5

2 Hearken, O ye who have given your names to go forth to proclaim my gospel, and to prune my vineyard.

3 Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be idle but labor with your might—

4 Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, proclaiming the truth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you.

5 And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many sheaves, and crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.

So, we also spread the good news of the Gospel because we've been commanded by the Lord to do so, and because of the promised blessings sharing that good news with others brings into our lives.

Other scriptures (both from the Restoration and the New Testament), give us a similar charge (or discuss sharing the Gospel through words as well as deeds):

Romans 1:16:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

Doctrine and Covenants 88:81:

"Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor."

Romans 10:14:

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

One aspect of missionary work here in the last days that I have seen mentioned repeatedly in the scriptures is that we, the laborers (missionaries and lay Church members alike) will be in the minority.

On the one hand, we have these great promises and prophesies:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; … 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.”

-Joseph Smith, History of the Church

D&C 65:2:

"The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth." (See also Daniel 2:31–45)

Philippians 2:10-11:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

And on the other hand, we know that the "laborers are/will be few."

It should come as no surprise then, that we as Latter-day Saints (both members and missionaries) are/will be in the minority.

But if we're in the minority, I believe we're in good company.

The ancient Jews who followed the commandments of Jehovah were in the minority of the world population.

Jesus, His Apostles, and His followers were in the minority during their ministries in New Testament times.

I, my family, and our two wards were in the minority in my small hometown in Montana. I got to experience life in the relative "majority" temporarily during my years in Utah. But now I'm back up in Montana, and it's minority time again. Which means: lots of missionary opportunities.

The Nephites were in the minority among the larger nation of surrounding Lamanites (and the righteous within both the Nephites and Lamanites were an even smaller minority).

Speaking of righteous Nephites, Moroni (the Prophet, not the Captain), was definitely a minority when he was the last surviving member of his people. I'm sure he probably felt lonely at times, and maybe even depressed or discouraged, but he held true to his testimony and the charge the Lord had given him, regardless of how many people were on his side.

Sure, he could have said, "Shucks I'm the only believer left, better hang it all up because I'm alone in my convictions..."

But thank goodness he didn't! Because of him staying true to the work of the Lord, despite the overwhelming numbers and odds against him, now literally MILLIONS know his name and have been positively affected by his example - his faith and conviction in the Lord Jesus Christ. And the Book which carries his father's name is being carried every year, every day to more and more people of the world - convincing them to have that same faith and hope in Our Savior that the prophets, Mormon and Moroni, had.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

I, like others, would also like to see more service missionaries. But that doesn't mean eliminating proselytizing missionaries. As stated in both the New Testament and Restoration scriptures I shared above, raising "the warning voice" through words and preaching (alongside service and good deeds) is a charge that comes from both the Lord himself, and His ancient and modern prophets and apostles.

Besides, service is a part of the mission equation already. I can attest, as I expect others here can, also, that a proselyting mission usually involves many service activities (both for individuals and the community at large).

A few examples from my mission in Kentucky:

-cleaning up an LDS Church member's yard
-weeding a non-member's (from India) garden
-waiting in the hospital emergency room (twice - once for 8 hours, the other for 12) to help do Spanish translation for a part member family where the wife had lung issues, and the other for a non-member investigator who'd been in a knife fight
-translating in the hospital another time and getting to welcome a recent Afghani refugee to America (through his Moroccan translator)
-volunteering multiple times to do Spanish translation with local Kentucky non-profit health community groups (free hispanic health clinics)
-volunteering each preparation day in one area to stock shelves and sort inventory at the local non-LDS food bank
-volunteering in another area each preparation day to help Catholic Community Services deliver clothes to the needy
-visiting a Baptist Church in another community to help address the needs of the local hispanic community (and following up later with one of their representatives)
-being invited to the local Toastmasters group in one area to present on what our mission was about
-helping people move (loading trucks, etc.) multiple times
-being invited in another area by a member to serve in his carnival booth, serving "Monster Ears" (fry bread) to the community (I got to meet Don Mattingly during that one! Got his autograph.)
-and many more instances that I'd probably have to look up in my mission journal to remember

Oh, and in the midst of all that service, we managed to teach a few discussions and baptize a few people, as well. ;)

(Those reading this, feel free to chime in with other examples of how you or others performed service on your/their proselytizing missions.)

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

If the Restored Church of Jesus Christ is dotting the Earth with temples in order to reactivate, reanimate, and reinvigorate its members, then great! It appears to be working, and that's exactly the intent of temple work (along with redeeming our kindred dead, of course).

Speaking of that, I've witnessed a small miracle lately.

I don't know if it's just because of people being inspired by conference in general, President Nelson's concluding announcement of 17 new temples in particular, Covid restrictions being relaxed, or a restructuring of the temple name submission/distribution system (or maybe all of the above), but a larger-than-normal number of my family names I submitted to the temple system have been completed over a shorter period of time (the last few days) than I've seen over the last few years (and I've submitted hundreds of names to the temple system since 2018)!

I've seen ordinances I submitted completed on March 29th and April 1st, and then (after conference) on April 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th!

And not just at one temple, either, and not just close by. They were done at: Cardston, Rexburg, Mesa, Jordan River, Pocatello, and Vernal.

Has this phenomenon been happening for anyone else here?

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

But back to the main discussion:
My reasons (and possibly others' here, though they may speak for themselves) for following the growth of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ):

-seeing Faith in Christ grow throughout the world
-seeing others receive the same blessings in their lives that I've received

Hearing or reading of individuals and groups joining the Church adds to my happiness. Hearing of individuals leaving or falling away is unfortunate, but it doesn't destroy my faith in the Lord or take away from the light I've received through my own personal experiences. And I still plan to follow Our Great Exemplar's example and continually share it with others.

As I quoted above, "the truth shall sound in every ear," but that doesn't mean all will accept it, or all will stay faithful. But those who read and ponder the scriptures are familiar with and accept that fact.

It's nice to see the numbers. It's nice to see the millions who have accepted the Gospel. It's humbling also to realize the billions who haven't. We still have a lot of work to do.
"Every knee shall bow, and tongue confess" (either in this life, the millennium, or the hereafter).

Kudos to Matt Martinich for all the number crunching he (and others here) do to bring us both the good and the "bad" news about how the "Stone is Rolling Forth" in these, the latter days.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...


I appreciate you sharing the Parable of the Sower. I'd forgotten that one. :)

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Randolph Finder

It may be a good thing that we don't see growth like we did in the 1960s, 70s, or 80s, as the quick baptism tactics used back then lead to a lot of members immediately going inactive (such as in Chile). I'd rather see slower growth of more fully converted people.

It's been mentioned here previously that the changed missionary tactics in Africa (which include requiring church attendance for a longer period of time before baptism), are leading to more committed conversions and (hopefully) better long-term convert retention.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

Even if, as has been suggested, the new temples announced are being built for reasons other than growth through conversion (such as more family name submissions and to encourage more local temple attendance), then I think that's great.

I'll use them. And so will a lot of my friends and family.

Heck, they're building one 3 hours from my house next to my old hometown! You'd better believe I'm going to make use of it!

Shelama said...

A largely unspoken barrier and impediment here to significant future growth of the Mormon church is that it's just getting easier all the time to very reasonably and sensibly conclude against the Mormon narrative and against Mormon truth claims.

And conclude against any 'holy ghost,' and against a burning bosom — or any other common religious or "spiritual" experience — as somehow a manifestation of truth or knowledge.

Compounding those problems for the Mormon church and Mormon missionaries are things like FAIR and the "Essays."

The future of the Mormon church and Mormon missionaries is in Black Africa and elsewhere in the more developing and poverished world where — among other things — education may lag, including critical education and thinking about the Bible, itself, and the invention of Christianiry.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

Even more of my temple names were completed today (in Cardston) through the the temple system!

Also, two separate friends of mine independently completed names today in Ogden that I shared with them.

The temple sharing system is working folks! Keep submitting your ancestors' names! :)

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Randolph Finder

An insidious plan, indeed! (Maybe they secretly seek to bring back the old All-Church Basketball Tournament?) ;)

Some friends of mine who served down in Argentina (20 years ago or so) said that the chapels there usually had ping-pong tables instead. I think the Elders I know in Finland said something similar, though I could be wrong.

Anybody here more familiar with the sporting accommodations in chapels outside of the U.S?

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

Oh, and I guess the Church is using some of the old baseball fields next to stake centers in the US for space to build temples.

So Randolph, your theory about the advancement of basketball at the expense of all other "inferior" sports checks out once again! ;)

Сњешко said...

In croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Slovenia, at least, there are no basketball courts, but rather ping pong tables at each church building/meeting place

twinnumerouno said...

When I was a teenager I lived in Calais, Maine, and attended church in Canada, in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Our chapel's cultural hall was carpeted and narrow, and to shoot a free throw into the single basket you had to stand against the wall. (I have never seen that arrangement anywhere else.) We played a lot of games of HORSE, I think I did better than I would in a full basketball game, which is probably a bit physical for me. (I'm not very athletic.) As the parking lot cleared out after church, the neighborhood kids would frequently get a game of hockey going.

Later I served a mission in Montreal, I think all of the chapels had basketball courts (including one that was a converted 4-story police station). I didn't notice any impromptu hockey games in the church buildings' parking lots, but in my last area, which was more suburban, it was not uncommon (while driving in residential areas) to come across kids playing hockey in the street.

Randolph Finder said...

As a more general comment. I *expect* 2022 growth to be around 2018's 1.21% growth. I think there certainly will be recovery from the effects of COVID in 2020 & 2021, which depressed missionary growth, but OTOH, the general trend over the last 15 years has been a decreasing percentage. This works out a a membership increase of *about* 200,000 members.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...



I knew I wasn't crazy about there being ping pong tables. ;)

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

On the mission in Lexington, KY,
our Stake Center was right next to the University of Kentucky's famous Rupp Arena. They let us missionaries play b-ball on prep day in the practice facility.

There were also really big fields right next to the Church, and we would play soccer with members and investigators alike during the summer. There was a fair sized Indian (from India) population there too, so they would have big cricket matches next to us.

I'm guessing some of the Church buildings down in Latin America have football (soccer) fields adjacent?

Unbound Trip said...

This is due to their heritage as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where Catholicism was the dominant faith. The second largest religious group in Slovenia is that of non-religious citizens. While some may ascribe to atheism or agnosticism, many simply choose to express their faith through other outlets such as nature or art.