salt-lake-templeThe LDS Church made an incredible claim in the October 2013 General Conference by announcing they have 15 million members.  That is quite the feat and nothing to just accept with an unwavering okay and nod of the head.  So today we’re taking a look at those numbers to see if this is truth.

Membership Numbers

The Church reported at the end of 2012 they had 14,782,473 members.

In 2012 according to their site it says there were 272,330 baptisms and an increase of 122,273 who are children of record* and this totals 394,603. 

All one has to do is add the total number of members in 2011 which was 14,441,346 to the number of increases of baptisms and births from 2012 to see there’s something wrong with their calculators. 

The real numbers for 2012 should read 14,835,949, but the Church said it was 14,782,473.  That’s a loss of 53,476 members.

So why doesn’t the Church report that as well?  Why do they give the gross increase and leave out members lost?   Are the 53,476 lost members the number of dead people that were baptized? Who knows what the truth is as no plumb line to measure truth can be found in the Mormon Church.

Up to and including 1983 the Church used to list the number of deaths, children who fail to become baptized at the age of 8, voluntary name removal and excommunications.  For reasons not publicized they put an immediate halt to that practice. Mormoninformation.com reported the following stats about the Church:

From 1984 to 1988 they listed children lost, member loss, and other losses.

From 1989 through 1996 they listed members and converts only.

From 1997 through 2012 they’ve listed members, converts and Children of Record.

In 1983 they reported the loss of members based on death was taken from generalized formulations of 4 deaths per 1,000 population**.  So if we use that standard for 2011 at a death rate of 4 per 1000 members, 57,764 members died and 33,586 left the Church.

In 2012 – at a death rate of 4 per 1000 members, 59,128 members died. This is more than the actual number of 53,476 members lost.

*Children of Record means a child born into the Church. These kids aren’t the 8 yr old kids who are baptized. These are children who were born to LDS members that were christened (blessed) around the age of 6 wks.

**4 deaths per 1,000 is unrealistic as a worldwide average. In reality this is around 8 per 1,000. Death rates worldwide are always much higher than they are in developed countries. 

Activity  and Retention Rates

According to Cumorah.com the Church’s activity rate is dismal at best. They reported that only “22% of U.S. members born to active LDS families remain active lifelong, whereas 44% returned after inactivity of at least a year or more”. Children born into inactive families remained inactive themselves if they even affiliated themselves with the Church.

Between 1990 and 2001 the Church claimed they had 5.3 million members, but in the City University of New York (CUNY) report only 2.8 million Americans identified themselves as Mormons. In an interesting comparison more people identified themselves as Jehovah Witnesses than their church claimed to have on the roles.

Cumorah.com also reported a survey done by USA Today in 2002 that showed similar stats. According to the news magazine almost every state showed lower numbers of people claiming to be Mormon than what the Church claimed.  Cumorah’s studies show that between “2000 – 2010 the average branch or ward increased by only one member” even though almost a million joined Mormonism and the Church busied itself with adding over 2,000 congregations. The average number of members per congregation remained stagnant at 0.3% for the same time frame. They believe this suggests a “declining convert retention rate”.

I say praise the Lord!

Today Cumorah’s site reports that less than half of those 15 million people actually claim to be Mormon.  Additionally the number of people who are active is always lower than the number of people who claim to be Mormon. In reality there’s never any LDS congregation that sees more than 30% attendance and that number is more likely to be in the high twenties.

If that wasn’t bad enough for the Church “data from Latin America, the Philippines, and other international areas demonstrate that three quarters of converts are entirely lost to the church within a year after baptism”.

The stats also show that while over 80% of the yearly converts take place outside of the U.S., only 25% of those converts remain active longer than a year.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed over the years that the “public” information from the Church about activity rates just doesn’t hold up to what we see and hear at the ministry.  In the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pg 1527 it says;

“Attendance at sacrament meeting varies substantially. Canada, the South Pacific, and the United States average between 40 percent and 50 percent. Europe and Africa average about 35 percent. Asia and Latin America have weekly attendance rates of about 25 percent.”

I was glad to see that I’m not alone in thinking the numbers don’t add up when I read the following comment about the Encyclopedia of Mormonism onCumorah.com;

“For clarity, Dr. Heaton cites data as representing the average attendance at sacrament meeting as a percentage of membership. These figures do not appear to include “lost address file members,” as sacrament meeting attendance rates are calculated based on total congregational membership, whereas lost address file members are not included in congregational rolls. When “lost address file” members are included in the denominator of total membership, weekly attendance rates as a percentage of total membership would be further diluted by our conservative estimate of the lost address file comprising 10% of total North American membership and 30% of membership in the developing world.”

This means that of the 6.3 million members the Church claims for North America only 630,000 people show up for Church.   

While the Church gives the impression that 15 million people are going to church every week we know this is far from the truth.

It’s hard to know how many people really belong to the LDS Church because 1. The Church doesn’t tell the truth about the real numbers and 2. There’s no verifiable way to ascertain how to retrieve any solid information based on the accounting practices.

The bottom line in all this is the Church probably has 4-5 million members and maybe 30% of those attend church regularly; there’s simply no way to make sense out of anything they try to brag about.

The one thing we do know for sure is that we as Christians need to pray for any and all of those who claim to be Mormon.  We need to pray for those who unbeknownst to them will receive a knock on their door this week or next month that the Lord will provide a hedge of protection around their hearts spiritually and open their eyes to Jesus’ truth.

With Love in Christ;

Michelle

1 Cor 1:18

PS: Cumorah.com is run by five people who are obviously LDS.  Although I obviously disagree with their theological outlook, I use their stats because of the honest analysis they provide.

See stat report Mormon Church Growth, Activity Rate and Retention for latest info.