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Declining Growth of the Church Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 15, 2021 8:15 pm

Declining Growth of the Church Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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February 15, 2021 8:15 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


Mormonism 101 is a research ministries Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson has helped many would understand what separates Mormonism from the Christian faith.

Mormonism 101 is available at your favorite Christian bookstore .1 examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective view .1 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 welcome to this additional viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host Bill McKeever Felder director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson.

My colleague at MRM yesterday show. We were looking at an article that was posted by the desert written news back on May 23, 1998. Now I know that's going back quite a few years. But it was important we needed to look at this article in order to better understand what we plan on talking about was an article titled LDS church growing at warp speed. Sociologist says and it was highlighting the research of a man by the name of Rodney Stark, who in the opening lines of this article it says fellow sociologist scoffed when he Rodney Stark predicted 15 years ago that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints could skyrocket to 267 million members by 2080. Now why is that prediction important at all.

A lot of people give predictions when it comes to church growth. But the reason why we feel it's important is because the numbers haven't even gotten close to what Rodney Stark predicted even though in 1998. You could say he was beating his chest, thinking that he had not only got it right. But he even hints that he felt that his numbers might even be a little bit too low and as I said on yesterday show that that decade that church to grow by close to 40%, but ever since it has been going down in the decade of 2000 2009 he went down to 24.8% and in the past decade. It's at 17.22%. So we have seen the percentages go down, and the total numbers bother still going up there is no doubt that the LDS church is still growing, it's not going to be anywhere close to the numbers that he said starting at 60 million in 2080 all the way up to close to 300 million that was a high estimate and we figured out using a 17.22 percentage between now and 2080, the church will be at around 42 million.

So at a much lower number than what he had actually predicted.

As we said yesterday the church is planning on coming out with some new statistics will as they normally do when the Saturday session of their general conference in April is just a few weeks away and so we are curious to know what that convert baptism rate is going to be when they announce those numbers.

Now they used to do it in general conference a while back they stop doing that and they merely told people to go on to their official website church of Jesus and they would have the numbers posted there and the two but I think one of the reasons why they may have stopped giving those numbers during general conferences because the numbers were not looking quite as good as they had been in the past, and maybe people were noticing that the numbers were not as high as they expected, and if you're raised with this mindset that the reason why you know the church is true is because of the growth rate of the church and as we mentioned yesterday, we used to hear that a lot deadly we don't hear that so much anymore.

I think it's finally getting out to the masses within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that they're not growing quite as quickly as they use to in the past and that members should probably not use that as a proof that the church is true and I would agree with that. I don't think is a Christian I would ever point to the growth of converts worldwide and SASE that proves that Christianity is true effect. I can't even think of a New Testament Christian that would use that kind of reasoning there may be some out there, but I know I certainly wouldn't do that none of us here at MRM would ever use those kind of facts to prove that Christianity is true, but we did hear a lot of times Latter Day Saints using that as some kind of proof that their church was the only true church on earth as we talked about yesterday Bill were not expecting huge numbers of the church growth in April when the general conference happens in there and release the numbers as you said were expecting probably 1% growth at the most is probably going to be under 200,000 converts which is not happened in decades. So I was reading an article in the Salt Lake Tribune and the title of this on January 14, 2021 is Salt Lake County keeps losing Latter Day Saints and there are multiple theories as to why the subheading says Utah statewide population is now 60% LDS.

I read the article. It was fascinating to read the reasons why they at the Salt Lake Tribune are thinking why the numbers have gone down, and I thought you know what these numbers that come out in April. A lot of Latter Day Saints are going to say well it's all because of COBIT are numbers are way down and I thought to myself, but that's not true necessarily yes 2020 will be an anomaly when it comes to total church growth.

But the church has been slipping since 1990, so I decided Bill to put together a lot of statistics. I'm not a huge statistic guy, but I think sometimes putting numbers down in it on a chart and being able to compare would help us. So I decided to go back and look from 1989 all the way until 2019.

The latest that we have as far as the numbers of the church and I wrote an article that I have on our website really talk a lot of numbers these next couple of days and so a person who might get confused with all the numbers were in use. I want to suggest you go to the article where we have charts where we have graphs and other things like that so it will help explain what were going to try to explain here in the next few days. growth with that-between declining grow so growth in the title of this article, a closer look at the declining growth of the LDS church, and since 1990 build this article. The second paragraph. This is what I write. In 1990 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints grew by record 331,000 baptize converts moving the membership at that time, to a total of 7.76 million Lummi stop for second that 331,000 was a record for all time, past and present.

I mean, there's never been a time where they have run by 331,000 and yet the church was at a number of less than half of what it is today because today there are over 16.5 million, and in 1990. They had 7.76 million. I think you're absolutely correct on that and often times when we are speaking in churches people are interested in these kind of numbers because they want to know why should we be concerned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We usually point to 1990. That's the peak 331,000 convert baptisms and, as you alluded to Eric. From that point on. It never reaches that number again. Even though the church is growing.

Of course, 331,000 converts you add to that next group and then they get somebody converts that next year and so many converts. The year after that. Of course the numbers are going up but were not seen the convert baptism rate going up at the same time. In fact it start going down sometimes at quite a rapid rate sometimes goes back up a little bit and then it goes down again, but it certainly has not gotten close in recent years to what they had way back in 1990. So going back bill looking at the past 30 years. Every year I looked up so I'm using church numbers and the graphs that I'm going to provide here in this article and it will work in a talk about these next couple of days. But here's what they're going to give us in April they're going to tell us the total stakes missions districts wards and branches and I feel that's one of the most useless numbers because one branch gets added into that in the branches.

Fewer than 200 members so you add 10 members in some kind of country and it's not the same as adding a steak or omission both total numbers don't really help. I think I understand the growth of the church is because her building buildings doesn't mean anything.

The current membership numbers.

The second thing they're going to give us, and that's important because we want to know what is the size of the church today. It's over 16.5 million. What was it 10 years ago.

What was it 30 years ago.

There also going to give us children of record and baptize converts the children of record doesn't mean much to us is usually around 100,000 but the baptize converts. That is what really means the most to us because we want to know how the church is growing.

I think that's the number that's going to help us determine is the church growing at the same percentage as what it was in the past. Can we talk a little bit about the difference between a child of record in a baptize convert because in your research you discovered something that neither of us were aware of and that is when a child is baptized at the age of eight, which is what the LDS church called the age of accountability if they are baptized at the age of eight. They are considered a child of record. However, if they wait until they are nine years old and are baptized into the church. They are not considered a child of record.

Instead, they are considered a convert that is being baptize is fascinating to me because what is the big difference between the timely turn eight years old and the timely turn nine, I would've assumed, and I have to be quite honest folks I never thought of this before but I naturally assumed without ever delving into it. Perhaps I should have that a child under the age of 18 living at home with their baptize, would be considered a child of record. I would've never thought that after the age of nine. There considered a convert. I ran into this as a mistake. I was looking at some different Internet material and I found something that was a question raised by a woman who was the statistician of her local ward worst branch. I'm not even sure and she was saying we had somebody who was nine years old and got baptized and they will not let me put the information in as a child of record for this nine-year-old and so she had to ask and then she got responses back from people and they said I hope that new baptism is now considered to be a convert, and so she had to understand that she was putting in wrong, that it had and the computer was not letting her do that and then I found out that so children nine or older who get baptized so 9 to 17 even though they live at home and just because they're not neither going to get counted. I wasn't sure that was actually true. I called the church headquarters and I talked to somebody who I asked that question.

If a child is nine years old and gets baptized is that counted as one of the converts in in the numbers that are provided every year. She says absolutely. So I said it eight years, 364 days. That is a child of record, but the next day would be considered a convert and she said yes. Now that's pretty important information because as you said Bill we didn't know that you just think that is a number that is brought up with all the different converts that they have on the mission field so somebody who's 10, 11, 12, getting baptize. Maybe the family comes into the church. All five of them get baptized, then you got five new converts not just to converts who were adults and three children of record.

Why do you think they do it that way, when did they start making a nine-year-old, a convert, as opposed to a child of record.

I don't know what the year is maybe somebody is listening to us right now and would help us write us an email at If you know the answer to that because it seems like I'm in a say this.

It seems like a cheap way to get converts.

So could it possibly be that they change this in order to make the convert baptism rate look more healthy than it really is. I don't know we don't know the answer to that but it just it just seems suspicious to us tomorrow were going to continue looking at this article, Eric is written a closer look at the declining growth of the LDS church since 1990. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information is research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website you can request a free newsletter is research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint is

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