LDS Church Growth Facts & Stats

Question: What do you think…should I bother to print out his book and hand out to my good friends in the Elder’s Quorum?

Last Sunday in priesthood there was a discussion regarding the growth of our Church? With the greatest respect, most of what was said was pure myth. It is commonly purported among LDS that "the growth in the LDS Church is phenomenal…that it is the fastest growing Church…or…according to reports by 2080 membership will be 265 million!…"

All these common sentiments just are not true. Those who make such claims mean no harm, and of course, love the Church and are excited about its growth naturally.

The reality, however, is that Church growth has significantly slowed from 5% to 3%. What is more, other Churches vastly out grew the LDS Church by significant, if not breathtaking, numbers.

However, I did not have the heart to dispel the illusion held by all members of my LDS Elders Quorum. No one likes to be corrected, especially in front of others, more especially if the illusion is something commonly held in belief by many others, even more especially if somehow the illusion is tied to faith, love, loyalty and a type of sign which buttresses their faith in the Church they so love and know beyond doubt to be true. Sometimes it’s just better to keep things to ones self until a better opportunity presents itself.

The URLs below contain a book written by Dr. David Stewart, 32 year old physician who served a mission in Russia. He is an exceedingly faithful LDS who loves missionary work, statistics, and facts; he is not afraid of facts & stats & reality when it comes to Church growth. His work is extremely insightful and very valuable to the LDS community.

I’m thinking of printing out his book and distributing it. Facts are our friends and ought not to offend us!

HTML online book:
The Law of the Harvest
Practical Principles of Effective Missionary Work
By David G. Stewart, Jr.
Copyright 2005
Version of August 21, 2005

MS Word version of the book

Home page:

About David Stewart & cumorah

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Posted on February 13, 2006, in Mormonism/LDS Church. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Please take the time and do it. I want those friendly, fussy facts to share with others.
    The slowdown is a sigh of the closing of the times of the gentiles. We should show our fellows how and why this is a natural fulfillment of prophecy.

  2. LDS Patriot

    One can’t be blamed for seeking and learning the truth; and the tact and sincerity with which you choose to bring it into the light. Please do release it, not so that we can use it for gain with our peers, but so that we can learn from it and try to help inspire change with the results…

    In the book, “Drawing on the Powers of Heaven,” by Hugh Von Grant…he makes the point that membership growth in any given area is based upon the faith of the members in that area…I do have some agreement with Gnosis on bringing this aspect into the light…as to being part of the cause of slowed membership…



    Upmost respect for not bursting the bubble in front of the Elders Quorum…Kudos and much respect.

  3. So, are the numbers released each general conference the same as the ones being spoken of in this book or are they just more detailed or what?

    Wouldn’t it be easy enough to just take the membership total of each April general conference and put that on a graph and see the growth rate? (I did that below.) Then it would be official numbers from general conferences themselves and there would be no contention about whether this third-party book is “official” or not.

    One other point deals with converts vs. children born into the church. The Catholic church has so many members that it would seem if they had no converts at all, they’d still be growing faster than anyone else. Perhaps the high numbers people are thinking of are convert numbers only? I don’t have the data in front of me so I’m not sure. LDS families might not be havign as many children too – I guess it would be good to separate the converts from the births.

    Here’s some data from the past 20 years of April conferences:


    I graphed that and added a trend line going forward to 2080 and in 2080, if the growth rate remained the same, it would be about 38 million members. The growth rate over the past 25 years is very near linear even though it seems like there were some spurts in the earlier years if you look at the percentage growth. However, if you look at the number of new members each year, that’s essentially linear over the whole 25 years. The peaks in 1981, 1989 and 1990 don’t seem to be a part of the overall trend.

    It also looks like prior to 1992, they were rounding the numbers and so the numbers to the nearest 10,000 so they may not be as accurate as the more recent years. And these numbers were gathered from individual stakes, etc. so there’s probably a percentage of error in them.

  4. P.S. I took another look at those numbers and looked at the split between LDS children baptized vs. new converts and found that LDS families have been having fewer and fewer children being baptized (born?) per capita. The number of convert baptisms has been fairly level but since the membership numbers have gone up, the percentage of new converts has gone down a bit.

  5. I did the same analysis using decade information from I normalized the data based in the population at the beginning of each decade. Since 1980 the normalized growth rate is plunging. Based on linear extrapoloation of my curves I would predict that the growth rate will approach the birthrate by 2015 (0.7% yearly). That’s probably a little too pessimistic as linear extrapolation is simplistic. It is the recent trend. But considering apostacy and virtual apostacy, I believe it may be conservative. I don’t believe the church reports those numbers. I’ve included my numbers again based on decades for comparison with Rcronk.

    year pop Normalized Growth
    1830 6 280.9833
    1840 16,865 0.207376
    1850 51,839 0.01783
    1860 61,082 0.047556
    1870 90,130 0.048261
    1880 133,628 0.040886
    1890 188,263 0.050728
    1900 283,765 0.040425
    1910 398,478 0.031999
    1920 525,987 0.027383
    1930 670,017 0.028753
    1940 862,664 0.028824
    1950 1,111,314 0.052358
    1960 1,693,180 0.073095
    1970 2,930,810 0.058312
    1980 4,639,822 0.067274
    1990 7,761,207 0.042618
    2000 11068861 0.026959
    2005 12560869

  6. Just a few thoughts, Could the Lord be the one that has slowed down Church growth, for a combination of reasons? Perhaps he is trying the Church and perparing for the furure. I think the internet could be playing a role, more pornography though, than anti literature. What also if the Lord knew Mitt Romney could become Pres., perhaps even under the Lords disguise and efforts. Could God be powerfull enough to pull this off and hide ready people and be secretly preparing for an explosion.

  7. Aaron,

    You are kidding – right? Please tell me that you are, because if your comment is actually a reflection of your thoughts, you are just plain ignorant. Sorry – but sometimes it just has to be said like it is. How blind can you be?

    Yes, certainly God is messing with us. He is toying with us, preparing Mitt to be president, and then an explosion of baptisms.


  8. I am amazed at the time spent by people to try and show the growth or lack of to mean anything but egotistical. The Church of Jesus Christ has had a phenomenal growth since its and it continues to grow today. Whether the fastest growing of churches or the slowest isn’t the important thing.
    With all the harassment and beating up on the church it is still here and it is growing larger every day and it scares people like you who for whatever reason can’t handle the situation and are attempting in some quirky way to deride their growth.
    I have a hard time believing that you are a member of the church. You may have been at one time but just to hear your elitist attitude is pretty hard to believe you are a member now because you sound just like an apostate.
    Converts are separated from the children in counting baptisms but of course that doesn’t matter to you since you are attempting to prove your convoluted way with your charts.
    The point is the church is growing while so many others are dying and the dying ones are scared to death because they are losing members and see the Church of Jesus Christ growing at a steady rate. The ones who seem to be making the biggest stink over growth are the churches who fear the most of a big LDS church. I have read numerous articles where the other churches are saying how fast the LDS church is growing. The LDS church itself says very little about it.
    So, if you are a member i would suggest you humble yourself and realize the church is growing at a pretty good rate but of course if it wasn’t you would find something else to say that is negative.

  9. As an active LDS member, I ponder at times the verses in the Book of Mormon regarding the population of the LDS members on the face of the earth and how the “numbers are few” – however considering there are billions of people on the earth, we could be at 300 million and still be “a few”.

    Regardless, I think there needs to be a correction on your post. I know it’s been posted a while ago, but it does seem to warrant some clarification. While no one knows for sure where the church membership will be in the years to come, growth has not necessarily slowed down.

    You mentioned above that the percentages have decreased over the years – but that would normally be the case, if your church population is increasing. For instance, we know that 10% of a million is 100,000, however 1% of ten million is still 100,000. So using the example statistics given above, notice the church has been growing at an average rate of around 300,000 members per year. Sure, if you take into consideration that the more members you have, the greater this number should be (here you’re looking for exponential growth), however, to state that the church is not growing at a consistent rate, I think, is also incorrect.

    In light of everything that is going on, the Nation Council of Churches (USA) has published membership changes for the most common churches today. Guess what? LDS is one of the *few* that grew in 2009. Most churches either stayed the same or lost members. I think that says a lot! You can see those results here:

    Thanks for sharing your discussion with us here – I really enjoy reading topics such as these and being able to have great dialogue with others. You sound like a great and humble person to not want to cause strife in your Elder’s Quorum – I commend you for that! We all know what happens when there is contention!

    But I leave you with one thought – is it those of other faiths, or is it the faith of our members which have decreased the “exponential” growth of the church?

    I don’t have that answer, but it is something I think about quite often also.

    Best to you!

  10. I don’t believe all those statistics published by the church for there are more than one questions about it.
    If you challange the numbers you will ask: Who dies in this church. The dying rate is comparable (much) to low and therefore can`t be correct. That has nothing to do with believing or not – it is just false. If you deduct the excomunicated ex-members, the problem gets even worse.
    Further Problem: If you are baptized and loose track to the Church you will still be counted until you are 110. How many people live until 110? Sorry for saying that but thats very optimistic even with keeping the WoW.
    Numbers of stakes are increasing but there are fewer and fewer members in those stakes. Does that count as growth factor?
    Other churches terminate your name after they haven`t seen you for a couple of years.
    Numbers of Tempel increasing but the same with stakes: Does that really count as membership growth factor?
    Numbers of Missionaries even decrease and with them the ratio baptizm per missionary. The church raised the standart for missionaries to send out just the absolute elect to baptize more – but obviously it didn’t work.

    It is not very bold to say: The church as a whole has currently no net growth any more. In parts of the world maybe slowly increasing but in some parts even declining numbers – like Europe (Official statement by Monson).
    Sure you can go ahead and repeat exactly what the brethren tell you. Don’t ask questions – for there are not welcome. You want help the church if you tell people 3+3=8 and try hard to find a godly explanation for your error.


  11. What happened to

  12. My comments aren’t intended to negate any of those that have been posted. I’d like to suggest one thing regarding the statistics. If I am not mistaken, the “impressive” factor has to do with the time domain itself. The LDS Church was organized in 1830, right? So we are dealing with growth over about 180 years.

    The Church is relatively young, and has experienced significant growth for a young Church. In other words, the Church has or is coming forth out of obscurity. I think its remarkable.

    I find that when I dwell too heavily on empirical things — evidence, signs, etc.– I really don’t feel very edified. Usually, for me, this is the case when things of this nature are discussed analytically and critically in settings like elders quorum meeting. And as far as for myself, it is a confirming type of thing to take notice signs and evidences, but again, I feel uncomfortable when I present precious bits and pieces of personal revelation and put them up for scrutiny.

    I grew up in the Church, and like everyone else has done or someday must do, I have had to seek independent conviction of its authenticity.

    To answer the original question, no. (And I realize you posted that question in 2006; hmm…)

  13. LDS Patriot,

    You are overlooking one VERY important fact in your analysis.

    The Mormon church is neigh unique in the world of religions in that it keeps VERY accurate records of its members, both of those who enter the church and those who leave the church (either voluntarily by losing the faith or involuntarily by dying). The same cannot be said for Islam and other Christian religions that, generally, do not keep anywhere near accurate, up-to-date records of many of their numbers who either pass away or leave the faith entirely.

    You are forgetting that, oftentimes, the only requirement to be counted as a “member” of another faith is that at one time you adhered to that religion, even if it was for only the period of a day or an afternoon meeting at church. The evangelicals claim that, in order to be considered one of their number, all that is required is that you are at some point “born again.” They take absolutely no consideration as to whether, after having been “born again,” you continue in the faith.

    There can be no doubt that the LDS faith is growing at rates which are highly impressive, especially when compared to other christian faiths (many which have been on the decline in recent years). A 2.5%-6% rate of growth per year over the last 20 years or so is right there at the top with the other “fastest growing religions” during this time period. This is especially true since the numbers for the Mormon church are (a) accurate and (b) verified by a zealous detail to documentation.

    As a lawyer, I would caution you as to the verification of so-called “facts.” My friend was a born again christian and now an active Mormon. He never wrote a letter to his local ministry claiming he was “leaving the faith.” Even if he had done so, do you think they really would have crossed out his name? Do you really even think they had a list of names to cross out?

    My point is, don’t believe the so-called “statistics” you read online without fully understanding their background. Is mormonism THE fastest growing religion in the world? I don’t know, but is it surely growing as ONE of the fastest and, with few exceptions, is growing at almost unprecedented rates. Is it THE fastest growing Christian religion? Again, I don’t know, but it is surely ONE of the fastest growing Christian religions and, in certain years, has been undisputably the fastest growing Christian religion.

  14. H. E. Carpenter

    Is this man living on the moon…? When I arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado in 1946 (aged 5) there were maybe 50 active members in the branch Sacrament Meetings on Sunday Night, on a very crowded night…! Today there are two stakes, with more than 7,000 members. Granted, that was a long time ago, but there were considerably fewer that 1,000,000 members worldwide then too. Today we are well over 14,000,000 worldwide. But our population in Grand Junction has grown well over 100-fold in that time…! I served a mission in New Zealand, 1961–1963. There were 20,000 members there then, and one stake in Auckland–the first ever organized outside the U.S. Today, there are more than 100,000 members in New Zealand, with stakes all over Auckland. One town where I worked for five months–Opotiki–had a population of 3,999 at the last census. We endured persecution for those whole five months, finally managing to baptise two brothers and their wives. One of the brothers had 7 children–with three sets of twins, and one more was born soon after I left the country. That brother became the first Branch President there. In my lifetime the Church has grown considerably more than 14-fold–so don’t tell me we aren’t the fastest growing Church on earth…! From 6 members to 14,000,000 plus in 182 years… I’d say that’s phenomenal, any way you look at it…! But Grand Junction, Colorado–from fewer than a hundred to 7,000+ in a little under 66 years…We’ve beaten the general trend quite handily…!

  15. Harland Carpenter

    Historical statistics speak louder than words. No need to brag, or dwell on what is happening. In 1830 there were six members. At one time I could name the locations of all the temples in the world, and count them on two hands. Now I wouldn’t even try. When I was a kid, I can remember when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints could point proudly to the fact that we had our first million members. At the end of 2011, we numbered more than 14,000,000. More than 800 new converts worldwide join us every week. Impressive…? Not really. We still have a few billion people on earth left to work with, and that will never end. We have hardly scratched the surface. Our detractors, enemies and critics will prevaricate and make all kinds of excuses for how we are deceiving the world, and inflating our numbers, etc. But with numbers and history like ours, that is to be expected. If they can’t defeat us in the real world, at least they can make up all kinds of glittering generalities and fables to salvage their own wounded egoes…! Meanwhile, just hide and watch what happens next…!

  16. At the end of 2011, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints reached well over 14,000,000 membership. The speculation from all quarters is whether our growth rate is slowing or increasing. Let’s look at it this way: 1) We have more missionaries than ever. 2) The population of the earth isn’t shrinking. 3) The Church has gone through various periods of speed-up, slow-down growth cycles, historically. 4) Considering our growing missionary force, is there any reason to believe that anything is going to change from what we have seen over the past nearly 200 years…? My logical conclusion would be that our growth will continue in proportion to the passage of time–and inversely in proportion to the growth in size of our missionary force. The world population isn’t shrinking or slowing down appreciably, so why should we expect the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to suddenly begin to slow–particularly since we move into new and previously untouched populations of the earth almost every day…? Probably many people of other faiths who are alarmed by our growth hope that will happen, but its is only wishful thinking…!

  17. Harlan Carpenter

    Why are all these statistics at least seven years old…? The LDS Church has added 4,000,000 members just since the year 2000. That fact alone should speak for itself. Growth statistics for the Church are dynamic, not static. One of two things will happen in the very near future.There will either be a sudden surge in growth–or there will be unexpected stagnation. Historically, the latter is very unlikely. Those who would like to see us suddenly disappear–or at least founder–should go back and take a look at our history since our founding in 1830. The world cheered when LDS pioneers were forced to abandon Nauvoo and the new temple in 1846. Everybody who was anybody predicted the end of the “Mormon” threat then. It never happened, and it won’t. Anybody who believes the contrary is delusional…! The world as we know it will end, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will endure into the millenium and beyond…!

  18. Har;an Carpenter

    Fact: 14,000,000 plus members at the end of 2011. So our growth rate is “plunging”…? What kind of weed are you people smoking…?

  19. How come all your “statistics” on this site are at least 10 years old…? Obviosuly a lot has happened in 10 years, including an LDS population explosion of at least 4 million. Get it straight or get a new job…!

  20. Harland Carpenter

    What always blows my mind about sites like this is that the alleged current statistics are always several years old. Since the LDS Church rate is about 800 new converts a day worldwide, a study of statistics is always outdated enough to be deceptive. Get your [edit] together or find another subject to report erroneously…!

  21. We are 14,500,000+ at the end of 2012. Why don’t you keep current–or close your [edit]!

  22. The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints has slowed and shrunk so much that we expect to be only a few more than 15 million by the end of 2013. At this rate there will only be about 30,000,000 of us by the year 2030. So there isn’t much hope of reaching the astronomical numbers Rodney Stark predicted way back in 1984. One hundred percent growth every 15 years isn’t all that impressive–is it…?

  23. Facts and Statistics The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued the following report concerning the growth and status of the Church:

  24. Hey guys…! Are we talking about the same church here? As of September, 2013, the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Days Saints is now 15 million strong–up 300% in two decades. Pull your heads out and smell some fresh air…!

  25. The invitation to preach the gospel to all the world remains in force today and through that injuction I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints from Ghana-West Africa who served his mission in Utah Provo.
    The growth of the church in Ghana has been exponential since 1978 and continues to scare our christian neighbours. Though these growths are impressive, yet the numbers mean nothing if members do not have a burning testimony of the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Book of Mormon prophecy tells us that the saints of God would be out numbered in the last days though Daniel’s prophecy tells us that the gospel would fill the earth (not necessarily in membership numbers as we may think).
    The Prophet Joseph Smith said the gospel will sound in every ear, sweep every country, etc and though this is happening, it does not guarantee that those who hear the word will make commitments to join the church. The only requirement for the Lord to proclaim that his purposes has been accomplished and that his gathering is complete for his second coming is to have the word sent to all nations of the earth and that is what missionary work is all about. If through the process of missionary work others join the church, it is good for them however their hesitance to join or remain faithful to covenants to the end of their days of probation does not in any way minimize the legetimacy and efficacy of pure truth and sound principles taught; truths which has changed my life and my family’s life for good. The church’s growth in my perspective cannot be equated to enormity of its truth neither can its truth be equated to its growth since in the last days would prefer darkness to light. The church’s growth is inseperably connected to the depth and spiritual maturity of its members after having applied truth, pure and sound principles and this would be manifest in our lateral relationships with others and not our professions of our beliefs. This to me is all that matters about growth i.e. what I have become as a result of the truth I claim to have. From this perspective numbers don’t mean anything to me.

  26. Semi-annual General Conference of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints is coming up the first weekend in April. All you Mormon-haters can read ’em and weep then…!

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