Population and growth rate

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"Worldwide Church membership continues to grow, reaching 12,560,869 in 2005. According to the 2005 Church statistical report, the Church has 2,701 stakes, 52,060 missionaries, and 122 temples in operation. In 2005 more than 240,000 converts joined the Church. Currently 341 missions are established throughout the world." [1]

"According to the Church’s Member and Statistical Records Division, first-generation members made up 64% of total Church membership as of July 2006 Per David Stewart, 70% to 80% are inactive."[1] "Sociologist Armand Mauss estimates that 50 percent of LDS converts within the United States stop attending within a year of conversion, and 75 percent of foreign converts fail to attend after a year."[2]

Mormons and media outlets frequently appeal to their religion's growth rate as an evidence of its truthfulness. Mormon author David G. Stewart, Jr. writes on the recurring theme and the overstatements that often accompany it:

"The rapid growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been a frequent and recurring theme in the secular media. The claim that the Church of Jesus Christ is the 'world's fastest growing church' has been repeated in the Los Angeles Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Guardian, and other media outlets, while sources claiming that the LDS Church is the 'fastest growing in the United States' are too numerous to chronicle. Sociologist Rodney Stark's 1984 projection has been widely cited: 'A 50 percent per decade growth rate, which is actually lower than the rate each decade since World War II, will result in over 265 million members of the Church by 2080.' In Mormons in America, Claudia and Richard Bushman claimed, 'Mormonism, one of the world's fastest-growing Christian religions, doubles its membership every 15 years.'
"Latter-day Saint media have also lauded rapid church growth. The LDS Church News has described international LDS growth with a litany of superlatives, including 'astronomic,' 'dynamic,' 'miraculous,' and 'spectacular.' The claim that the LDS Church is the 'fastest growing church in the United States' has been repeated in the Ensign and LDS Church News. In a recent General Conference, the Church of Jesus Christ was described not only as being prolific, but also as retaining and keeping active 'a higher percentage of our members' than any other major church of which the speaker was aware.
"A closer examination of growth and retention data demonstrates that LDS growth trends have been widely overstated. Annual LDS growth has progressively declined from over 5 percent in the late 1980s to less than 3 percent from 2000 to 2005. Since 1990, LDS missionaries have been challenged to double the number of baptisms, but instead the number of baptisms per missionary has halved. During this same period, other international missionary-oriented faiths have reported accelerating growth, including the Seventh-Day Adventists, Southern Baptists, Assemblies of God, and Evangelical (5.6 percent annual growth) and Pentecostal churches (7.3 percent annual growth). For 2004, 241,239 LDS convert baptisms were reported, the lowest number of converts since 1987. The number of convert baptisms increased to 272,845 in 2006, but both missionary productivity and the total number of baptisms remained well below the levels of the early 1990s. Even more cause for concern is the fact that little of the growth that occurs is real: while nearly 80 percent of LDS convert baptisms occur outside of the United States, barely one in four international converts becomes an active or participating member of the Church. Natural LDS growth has also fallen as the LDS birth rate has progressively declined. LDS church membership has continued to increase, but the rate of growth has slowed considerably."[3]





[edit] Mormonism in America

LDS.org reports:

"5.5 million members reside within the United States—where the Church is ranked as the second-fastest-growing church, according to the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches" [2].

[edit] Rodney Stark's famous projection

"Using past patterns of growth as a baseline, religious sociologist Rodney Stark has projected an LDS population of 265 million by the year 2080. Using this projection, Stark has predicted that the LDS Church will become the next major world religion." -Encyclopedia of Mormonism [3]

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[edit] Sobering inactivity rates

"While LDS activity rates in the United States are among the highest of any country in the world, less than half of members on the rolls are active. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism reports: 'Canada, the South Pacific, and the United States average between 40 percent and 50 percent [attendance at sacrament meeting].' (Source: Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, 1992, 4:1527.)
"Marginal retention of new converts, and especially potential priesthood holders, remains a serious challenge:
"'For the U.S. as a whole, only 59% of baptized males ever receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the South Pacific, the figure drops to 35%; in Great Britain, 29%. In Mexico (with almost 850,000 members) the figure is 19%; and in Japan, only 17% of the male members ever make it past the Aaronic Priesthood.' (source: Lowell C. Bennion and Lawrence Young, Dialogue, Spring 1996, p.19.) " [4]

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[edit] Baseball and gravestone baptisms

"This came directly from the top and was done in the '60s. The idea was to get youth who would grow up to be leaders. Baseball and soccer leagues were formed by the missionaries. To participate there was an'initiation' (baptism)." [4]

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[edit] Quotes

[edit] Trivia

[edit] References

  1. http://www.bloggerofjared.com/2007/03/15/1st-generation-members-and-retention/
  2. http://www.newsweek.com/id/105857/page/2
  3. Stewart, Jr., David. The Law of the Harvest: Practical Principles of Effective Missionary Work, p. 17.
  4. Cumorah Project International LDS Database: United States. Available online here.

[edit] External links

[edit] Informational

[edit] Non-Mormon

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