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Declining Growth of the Church Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 17, 2021 8:18 pm

Declining Growth of the Church Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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February 17, 2021 8:18 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


.1 examines 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 welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism on your host Bill whatever founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM in just a few weeks at their general conference that's going to be held in April 2021. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is going to announce new statistics. Now they normally announce them during general conference with. They're probably going to do as they have done for the past few years is to merely say to people if they want to know what the new statistics are to go to their official website. Church of Jesus We are always interested in these numbers because it gives us an idea as to how the church is growing and how quickly it is growing and so what we've been talking about this past week is that certainly the projections that were given let's say in the late 1990s. They're not going to pan out. The church is not going to meet. For instance, the projection that was given by a man by the name of Rodney Stark, who said according to his research. If the low estimate were to turn out right then there would be 16 million Mormons in 2080 if the higher estimate was met there would be 267 million Mormons in 2080. Now you might be saying 2080. That's almost 60 years away, but the fact is folks, the growth of the church since that prediction was made is certainly not heading towards those numbers at all.

In fact, the percentage of growth has been rather dismal in recent years, and that's what were talking about and why were looking at an article that Eric has put together titled a closer look at the declining growth of the LDS church since 1991 of the citations that you given this article, Eric is a statement made by Patrick Mason and we've referred to this during this week. He's the head of the Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, where he said we know that there continues to be an exodus from the church. This has been one of the main stories in the 21st century and may be accelerating over the past decade. As I mentioned the numbers as we see them now don't seem to reflect the encouraging signs that were felt back with, say, 20 years ago by Rodney Stark, the sociologist, by the way, is not LDS.

What can we expect when the church posts its new numbers. We don't expect them to be high from last year mainly because becoming 19 pandemic certainly curtailed a lot of missionary activity throughout the world. There was not much one-on-one contact with missionaries, naturally, that would be reflected in their convert baptism rate, but if a Mormon is trying to excuse what we see to be a low convert rate number they can't say it was merely because of covert, 19 because those numbers have been going down for quite a while and that's what your article mainly tries to show for those who like statistics you want to go to our website growth with the hyphen between declining and growth in that article. I have a chart that says church growth in the past 30 years. I started in 1989, 1990, when the church had over 300,000 converts the biggest year ever. 1990 331,000 converts with 43,500 missionaries for a total membership of 7.76 million. They were growing at over a 4% growth rate and you go through this chart and it's interesting to look through. For instance, in the 1990s.

You had on the average over 300,000 converts per year, growing at over 3% on looking at the year 2008. It was 274,000.

In fact, the last year they had over 300,000 was 1999. You can see the chart below that that shows you the percentage of convert baptism growth rate from 1990 to 2019 and you could almost draw straight line because it used to be over 4% and now it's at around 1.5%. We have a 2003, it went down to total baptize converts 243,000 from 283,000 the year before at about a 2% growth rate and I'm going to suggest to you, Bill. The Internet had a lot to do with the early 21st century numbers going down because 2003, 2000 for the 240,000, and the numbers stay around 2%.

Throughout that first decade of the 21st century and then you have the last five years. The last five years the church has grown by between 1.44% and 1.64%. Now that's from over 4%, 30 years ago in 1990 was growing at over 4% and now it is growing at around 1 1/2%. Now for a lot of people who are listening, they might think, what's the big deal one and 1/2%, 4% doesn't sound like a big difference, but it really is to prove the point, Bill. I have a chart that talks about if the church would have just grown by 3% in the past decade, from 2010 to 2019 and were going to use the number that is started with it.

14.13 million of the actual church membership.

They grew 1.93% in 2010.

If they could've just increase that by 1% to 3% instead of 1.93 instead of having 273,000 converts. They would have had 415,000 converts a difference of 142,000. If you project that through the entire decade, growing at 3% when the church never even came close to 3% and in fact, as I mentioned the last five years there, growing at around 1 1/2%, then you would have instead of having 16 1/2 million members. At the end of 2019. You would have over 18 1/2 million members. That small percentage. It doesn't sound like very big 1.3 to 3, but that would've equaled over a decade to million more members and it does not look good for this year. As you mentioned, Bill 2020.

I doubt they'll even hit 1% and we would expect that it probably will start to go up again as a missionary start to go back onto the field and they return to normal. As we all will. But for the next few years.

I'm not going to think they're going to go past 1.5% and so as we said on a previous show. If the church grows at what it did this past decade in the year 2080. The only how 42 million I say only it's it's still a large number but nowhere close to what Rodney Stark predicted back in 1983, and then he kind of well 1998. It sure sounds like I was wrong. This guy go even higher. But they're not getting the percentage of growth rate that they were once doing for a number of reasons. Yeah. And I think we should point out, we can blame Rodney Stark for being off, but I don't think even Rodney Stark could figure in all the strange things that were going to be happening in the years to come. I don't think that he could have predicted the eventual coming forth of the gospel topics essays which had a very serious effect on this growth rate. I don't think he could've predicted the change in social views among many of the younger members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I don't think he figured in a lot of that. How would he even know he's merely just going by numbers that he has in front of him, though. We can criticize Rodney Stark to a certain extent. We should move expected him to know all these things that would've eventually showed his numbers to be in error. Internet was not available to people in 1990. So over 300,000 makes sense because people are Able to do the research. In fact, the Internet was really not made available until the middle of the 1990s and even at that you had dial-up and if you remember dialup you were always waiting for things to come in and then you be dropped in all of that was just a real major problem and then something happened in 2007. That was huge is called the smart phone not only could you just use the Internet, phones could now get this information and so today. A lot of the gins. These don't even realize what we used to have to do and what is available now to be able to just Google something or to ask Alexa a question to be able to have an answer within a few seconds is amazing and think about this before 1990. I counted maybe about 12 to 13 Christian books that were even available that today you have many dozens and dozens of books not just from Christians but from others before 1990. You would've had access to let safe on M. Brody's book no man knows my history. She wrote that 1945. Most Christians wouldn't of been able to have gotten the book and then over the next years books were periodically published is Mormonism Christian by Gordon Frazier the Meza Mormonism was in 1957 by Walter Martin.

I go through a list about a dozen 15 different books Mormonism mama and me sold more than 160,000 copies so people didn't have access but where did you get that there was no bill so you had to find a Christian bookstore that was going to sell Mormonism mama or me or even your book was self published in 1983 called answering Mormons questions to get that book it would've taken a little bit of time and effort. How many people would've taken the time and how many would've taken the effort to go find those books and so when Mormon missionaries become the people's doors.

They would say hey we've got this wonderful family oriented religion that you want to join and so people were joining even Christians were leaving to to be able to become Latter Day Saints. It's not happening the same way today because not only do we have lots of books available that you can have tomorrow. If you order on but you also have the Internet and sites like, UT,, and many many others. If you Google the word Mormon, or Mormonism, on the first page. More than half are going to be from sources outside the LDS church so the information is readily available to the church is not growing as much because I don't think Rodney Stark would've ever imagined that people would have phones that they could look up the information for themselves and find out there's something fishy going on here will you mention the Internet and the article that I referred to.

That came out in 2012 at sites Marlon Jensen. He even brings that up. That's the problem. He said so were not just making that up folks, church leaders have admitted that the web has caused them some serious problems in that article that I cited earlier that was titled Mormonism besieged by the modern age Marlon Jensen says this my own daughter. He then added has come to me and said, quote dad, why didn't you ever tell me that Joseph Smith was a polygamist."

For the younger generation Jensen acknowledge quote everything's out there for them to consume. If they want to Google it. I'll think about that statement for minute, folks. He's the church historian at this time in his own daughter comes up to him and says dad why didn't you ever tell me that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. The daughter of the church historian doesn't know this.

Can you imagine how that would affect her when she finds out from a source other than a church source.

Even her own father and this is what has caused a lot of people to leave they were finding out information about their church but not from the church and that's why the church had to go into damage control and that's what eventually led to the gospel topics essays. Thank you for listening.

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