Spinning the declining missionary numbers

by Simon in Oz

From the Salt Lake Tribune

"The push for more missionaries may reflect an awareness of the church’s shrinking proselytizing force, which is down to about 52,000 from a high of 62,000 in the mid-1990s. The decline is due in part to the LDS Church “raising the bar” on missionary qualifications in 2002, LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said in February.
But, Trotter said, “the primary reason for changes in missionary numbers is the fluctuating population of available missionary-age members.”


Brother Trotter is paid to lie for the church, but you can see he isn't entirely comfortable lying all the time. He admits that the available missionary pool is the main problem and that it is "fluctuating".

But even that's not a true reflection of the facts.

The data shows that since about 2002, when the numbers peaked at 62K, the number of missionaries has been essentially flat at around 52K.


During that 7 year period church membership has grown by 16%. So in reality, the proportion of missionaries has dropped by 20% and is steadily declining as a proportion of total membership. It shows no sign of stabilizing and is hardly fluctuating.

Simone Stigmata
Re: Spinning the declining missionary numbers
Does this 52,000 number include senior couples too? Or is it just the youngsters?

Simon in Oz
I suspect all
If it is the total no. then it is likely that the proportion of younger recruits is declining faster. They are putting a heap of pressure on older couples to enlist.

Simone Stigmata
Re: Spinning the declining missionary numbers
If it is total (which I also suspect) then it is pathetic because there are so many baby boomers now to pressure to go on missions. They still have a huge pool of recruits to draw from even if the youngsters numbers are declining a little.

As a percentage of their total membership it is steadily declining. Funny how they spin it.

Mormon Baby Boomers steady the Titanic for next two decades
Baby Boomers in the USA (generation born between 1946 and 1964) who are now between the ages of 64 and 46 will keep the sinking ship "Mo-Tanic" afloat for at least the next two decades.

This due to their wealth, retirement bubbles, smarts (although not smart enough to leave the cult) they will keep the blood/cash flowing to the heart of the beast for some time to come.

Monson, et al, have staff to study and monitor demographics of the membership so expect to see a continuation of the GA's harping to the boomers about senior missions and estate donations to the Morg.

Nearly every day I pinch myself and say how happy I am to be officially out of that hamster wheel of insanity known as Mormonism.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/03/2010 12:09PM by cricket.

I know for a fact that Church leaders Know the true reason.
earlier this year, a GA in the missionary department (sorry i don't remember which one) spoke to my sister's ward in SLC. He acknowledged that the Main reason, among others, that the number of missionaries was dropping was that YOUNG MEN WERE CHOOSING NOT TO GO. I found this to be a startling admission.

Thank the internet 

Fluctuating? Try Stagnating.
That's an interesting way of spinning the number.

If they "raised the bar" we would expect a quick drop off and then a rebuilding back up as the church grows and grows.

You do see that drop off from the 2002 of 61k to 2004's 51k, a loss of 1/6 of their mission force. It built back up slight to 53k, still down 15% from its peak, but has receded in the following years. Last year, their mission force was only 670 more than the 2004 trough. If the trend continues in 2010, and I think it would, then they will barely post 51k again like they did 6 years ago.

This isn't fluctuation, this is stagnation.


If the church is the fastest growing religion in the world, then this should not be happening.
The AMAZING growth should provide an ever growing pool of new young men to carry the message to the world. It appears the stone cut out of the mountain with out hand is turning into a pebble.

another guy
Re: Mormon Baby Boomers steady the Titanic for next two decades
That statement will probably be rescinded soon. Sometimes, a GA may actually tell the truth!

Going below 50K is going to be a blow. nt 

Re: Spinning the declining missionary numbers
Helemon - the church stopped claiming that years ago, but still lets others make that statement.

Look at both the total number and the number of converts. The converts per missionary is down approx. 35% over its high. So, it's not just the number of missionaries. Their productivity has also dropped. In other words, both rate and volume variances (sorry - that's the old accountant coming thru.)

Good point! 

Weren't there 60,000 missionaries in the late 1980s?
I thought I heard that number when I was a missionary.

Re: I know for a fact that Church leaders Know the true reason.
I resolved not to go on a mission even back when I was a TBM in youth. I just saw what sort of crap they typically went through all for the sake of boosting the numbers of the church (Temporarily, honestly. Membership is dropping, is it not?) and I decided that wasting two years of my life for the church was not for me.

Another Way of Looking at This Trend...

2002/ 11,721,548/ 61,638/ .526
2003/ 11,985,254/ 56,237/ .469
2004/ 12,275,822/ 51,067/ .416
2005/ 12,560,869/ 52,060/ .414
2006/ 12,868,606/ 53,164/ .413
2007/ 13,193,999/ 52,686/ .399
2008/ 13,508,509/ 52,494/ .388
2009/ 13,824,854/ 51,736/ .374


As a percentage of total church membership, missionary ranks dropped by 28.897% from 2002 through 2009.

Re: Spinning the declining missionary numbers
Does anybody still have the numbers of child baptisms from 11 years ago?

We could look at the number of 8 yr-olds baptised in a given year. Then we look at the number of missionaries 11 years later, when those 8 yr-olds are 19 and see how it's going. We can assume that about half the 8 yr-olds were girls and adjust for that.

It might be interesting.

Zeno Lorea
Great idea! 

Didn't the number and percentage of missionaries drop off just BEFORE they "raised the bar?"
Speaking of "raising the bar," I have seen no such thing in my experience. Various young men we know went on a mission right out of drug rehab, a year after having an illegitimate child (two, adopted out thruogh LDS Social Services of course), a few weeks after selling drugs in the neighborhood, after cheating on exams and assignments at BYU, the day after a drunken binge with his friends.

In our neighborhood, as many girls as always are still going on missions.

I call "BS" on the raising-the-bar myth!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/03/2010 04:13PM by forestpal.

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