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Declining growth of the Church Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 14, 2021 8:07 pm

Declining growth of the Church Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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February 14, 2021 8:07 pm

This week we consider the numbers of convert baptisms from 1990 through 2019, as the church has steadily decreased in percentage growth each decade. We encourage you to visit an article with graphs (referenced in the shows) by clicking mrm.org/declining-growth

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One member is examining the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint when Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism so glad to be with us for this additional viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM back on May 23, 1998 there was an article in the desert retinues, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The title of the article was LDS church growing at warp speed. Sociologist says the article was built around a sociologist by the name of Rodney Stark, now Rodney Stark is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as far as we know he was raised Lutheran when he began working for Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which of course is a Baptist college.

He claimed that he was an independent Christian not really sure what that actually means.

But that's what he said in 2007 after joining the staff at Baylor that his parents converted to the LDS church in their elderly years, which could explain why he has an interest in the growth rate of the LDS church.

Although he's written on a number of subjects having to do with religion but in 1983.

He put out a paper or he talked about the possible growth of the LDS church based on its growth rate at that time and we want to talk about that because this article we want to use as you might say a foundation for what we want to discuss in the next couple of shows. It says in this article that Rodney Stark says fellow sociologists scoffed when he predicted 15 years ago that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints could skyrocket to 267 million members by the year 2080. I remember when he came out with that information back in the 80s and it was an amazing number because at the time the church was I think about 5 million members total and to say that they would be 267 million members by 28 even though that's a long way away. It created a big stir when he came out with that information will the next paragraph goes on to say. Now he says that estimate actually may be low. He said Friday. In a speech to the Mormon history Association.

Remember, this article came out on May 23, 1998, he said Friday. In a speech to the Mormon history Association, that in the years since he made his calculations. The church has grown even faster then his highest estimate now would probably have several people take notice and I remember I agree with you Eric. I remember when Stark's prediction came out. It certainly concerned us. You might say. And that was really the talk of the town a lot of Latter Day Saints especially were pointing to his calculations and of course you have to remember folks back then. At that time you had a lot of Latter Day Saints who looked at their growth and they certainly were growing.

There's no denying that they're growing today, but they were looking at the growth at that time, and using that as some kind of proof of God's divine favor upon the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I couldn't even count how many times I had faithful Latter Day Saints point to their growth rate as if that was some kind of proof that the church was in fact the only true church on the face of the earth as they claim. You and I have both talked to many Latter Day Saints over the years.

I'll never forget this one conversation I was having the gentleman at Manti at the Moore America pageant and there were a lot of people there back. I don't know what year it was but it might've been 20 years ago, but he looked at me and he pointed to all the people that were sitting in the seats and he said how could all of these people be wrong and he said the fruit of the church is very evident for how fast it is growing. God is showing divine favor, we heard that often when we were out witnessing in those earlier years. It's interesting that you bring that story up because I had a very similar encounter with a Latter Day Saints woman and this was before really was a night when their work. Even a lot of people there, yet you still pretty early in the evening I was talking to her sharing the gospel with her and talking about her Mormonism and she did a very similar thing, waved her arm and said could all these people be wrong and I looked at her with a polite smile and said will yes absolutely.

They could be. We could all be wrong. None of us corner the market on absolute truth were all fallible. We all have to try to evaluate information. The best we possibly can. And if I'm going to be honest, I have to admit I could be wrong. If I'm going to expect that kind of a confession from a Latter Day Saints. Why wouldn't I say the very same thing.

Unless of course I was in fact omniscient, and knew all things. I don't yes Latter Day Saints could very well be wrong. Just because there was a lot of them. At that time and there's a lot of them even today does not necessarily mean that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is in fact true. If you're going to go by numbers. And that's going to tell you that a religion is true, then we probably should all be Muslims he would say when you Eric because Islam is growing like crazy yeah I mean Jesus himself said that broad is the road to destruction, and narrow is the path of life, so I don't think that we as Christians would ever say.

While our growth or our success is going to be an indicator of truth were not saying because the church is growing or not growing. Whether it's the LDS church or the Christian church that is any indication of its truthfulness. This article goes on to say that Rodney Stark made two separate calculations one for growth of 30% a decade and one for 50%.

Both were less than the 61% average growth that the church had per decade from 1950 to 1980. The three decades before he wrote his paper because on the say quoting if the low estimate were to turn out right then there would be 16 million Mormons in the year 2080, if the higher estimate was met there would be 267 million Mormons in 2080, that we are here in 2021. The LDS church is going to be having its general conference in April. Just a few weeks away and we are always curious to know what the new numbers are for church growth. One of the numbers that were particularly concerned about is the convert baptism rate. We always look for that number gives us somewhat of an indication as to where the LDS church is regarding how quickly or how slowly they are gaining new converts and we know that the numbers are probably going to be very low because of 20/20 and covert, 19 because the LDS church pulled back its missionaries.

They were not doing a lot of door-to-door work.

There is not a lot of one-on-one contact at least personal contact going on in 2020. So naturally, if they gain a substantial amount of converts through their missionaries and the missionaries have not been allowed to do what they normally do. It's obvious that those numbers are going to probably be lower and we have to remember to that church services were not happening all through 2020. Some churches and some of the countries are not even meeting now but for months there was no meetings.

People were staying home. A lot of the LDS churches were not into the YouTube or Facebook life that as the Christian churches seem to be doing and so there were not a whole lot of opportunities for people to gather together or for missionaries to be able to go door-to-door so we are expecting in a few weeks when they announce those numbers to be probably the lowest in modern history. As far as total number of converts and the percentage of growth.

Now it's not just 2020 that the LDS leaders should be concerned about because we know they been concerned about their numbers for a number of years. Their numbers have been really tanking, you might say we would go back to 1990 when it peaked in 1990 we saw that their numbers actually peaked with 330,000 converts at that time they had 43,500 missionaries, 43,500 missionaries average converts per missionary at that time would be 7.61 when this article was written in 1998.

He's exactly right because he made two separate calculations one that would be 30% per decade and one for 50% and when this was written, the church was growing at about 40%, using the numbers that the church is provided, and I know this is going be hard to understand phenomena do it as clearly as I can because between 1990 and 1999, the church grew that decade by close to 40% 38.6% the following decade 2000, 2009, it went down from 38.6% to 24.8%. That's a significant drop.

That is, in fact, they made fewer converts between 2000 and 2009 than they did. Between 1990 and 1999 that someone might ask why do you think that is well, we've always maintained it probably had a lot to do with the Internet. A lot of people are now getting on the web because the webbing started really taking off around the mid-1990s we had our website MRM.org in 1995 and it was early that was very early and from that point on the Internet is starting to take off.

So information is starting to get out there and then we let's go to the past decade between 2010 and 2019, a 17.22% growth. Now remember, 2000 to 2009, 24.8 so it went down to 17.22% bill when I decided to do was take that number of 17.22%, and calculate that over the next 60 years to take us to 2080 doing the 17.22%, assuming that they could keep that they haven't kept in the past three decades the total number of members in 2080 will be around 42 million Rodney Stark said it would be minimum of 60 million to as many as 267 million so the title of this article.

LDS church growing at warp speed. Sociologist says I don't think Rodney Stark had a crystal ball to help him understand all the factors that were to talk about the next few days of why the church is not kept this high percentage of growth and certainly we rejoice that there convert rates are going down because that means a lot of people are being spared the heartache of believing the false teachings of Mormonism. But let's not forget folks. They are still bringing in a lot of converts even while these numbers are low. Thank you for listening. If you would like new information is research ministry.

We encourage you to visit our website www.mrm.org you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is as with most decisions is research ministry depends on the generous financial support of friends like you. If you like what we do and how we do it, would you consider helping a more immediate financial obligations really go to my website MRM.org the right you'll see in only click there and follow the instructions.

MRM is a Christian nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and your gifts are tax-deductible, only that they are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support of this ministry


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