Is LDS (Mormon) Church Growth Decelerating?

Related Posts: Growth of the Church (2007)

Summary: Is the growth of the church decelerating? I would have to say no. First, the acceleration the church experienced from 1950 to 1990 was small. Only 6,290 persons per year^2. So a change is not too surprising. From 1991 to 2013 there appears to be a very small deceleration, but this can be said with only 63% confidence. In other words, there is a 37% chance the apparent deceleration is not real. Otherwise, the growth rate is constant.

If we look at convert baptisms the number in 2013 is about 8,500 higher than in 1992. And for the last eight years has been fairly constant at about 275,000 per year. Non-convert baptisms is holding steady at 46,000 persons per year.

Baptisms per missionary have decreased due to a fairly constant conversion rate combined with a dramatic increase in missionary force.  
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  1. A very interesting post and analysis.

    Regarding your calculation of non-convert baptisms, I think that children are counted as members once their records are created with a baby blessing. Also, does your calculation take into account a decrease in membership due to deaths and attrition? Neither of those numbers are reported by the Church, to my knowledge. How do you think these things would affect your non-convert baptisms calculations?

  2. Nate,

    Thanks for your comment.

    About children being recorded as members. I believe they are only recorded as members when they are baptized, but I'll have to check that.

    Decrease due to deaths? I don't know. I can see your point. What if someone dies who hasn't been to church for decades. How would the church know to remove their name from the record of the church? I'll think about it and get back with a response.

    I'll also post the raw data online.

  3. I've read, though I can't remember where, that a person's records remain "active" until they reach 110 years of age, then they're automatically rolled out. Could be complete hearsay.

    A good ward clerk will record members' death dates, speeding up that process.

    So the reason I think that blessed babies are considered members of record is due to the following from Handbook 2: Section 18.2.2:

    "After children who are members of record are baptized and confirmed, a member of the bishopric announces each child’s baptism and confirmation in sacrament meeting. These children are not presented for acceptance into the ward because they are already members."

    But I suppose the Church statistical report might include only baptized children. Tough to say. I'd sure like a tour of the Church's statistical and research department!

  4. I got some data from the Church statistical reports from 1996 to 2013. The variables of interest were total membership, children of record, and convert baptisms.

    I figure we can calculate deaths and attrition by the following method:

    Total membership 1997 - total membership 1996 - children of record 1997 - convert baptisms 1997

    For 1997, I calculated a decrease in Church membership of 17,037 due to either death or attrition.

    What do you think?

  5. LDSTech, Membership Record says,

    "For statistical and reporting purposes, the following persons are members of record and should have a membership record:

    1) Those who have been baptized and confirmed.
    2) Those under age nine who have been blessed but not baptized.
    3) Those who are not accountable because of intellectual disabilities, regardless of age.
    4) Unblessed children under age eight when:
    * Two member parents request you create a record.
    * One member parent requests you create a record and the nonmember parent gives permission.

    A person who is nine years or older who has a membership record but has not been baptized and confirmed is not considered a member of record. However, the bishop keeps the membership record until the person is 18. At that time if the person chooses not to be baptized despite being given every opportunity, the bishop, with written permission from the stake president, may cancel the membership record. He should not, however, cancel membership records of persons not considered accountable because of mental disabilities."

    It sounds like those under 9 who are blessed and not baptized are considered members of record, but when they 9 or older they are no longer a member of record.

    It sounds odd.

    Membership record, (last visited October 18, 2014).

  6. I just received this response from FamilySearch Support regarding how hold a member of record is before being regarded as dead. I looks like 110 years is correct. Their response is as follows.


    Dear Troy *****,

    Thank you for contacting FamilySearch Support. We received this information from the Membership Department:

    We wait until they would have been 110 years old and then put just a death year on the record. Or, if the person is declared dead legally, we just need the court documentation.


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