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Sunday, February 6, 2022

Part 1 of a 3 part series -- Does “the one true church” have a membership recruitment/convert baptism problem?

(As you read this post, I'd like you to imagine that you're a manager, and you have a team of people who are assigned to work on a specific project. How is your team doing? If they're struggling, why? For how long? Finally, what can be done to straighten out your team (with at least a modest sense of urgency)? I look forward to reading your observations in the comments).

"Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." [1] 

"preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it" [2] 

If ever there was a charge given to the church, it's to go into the world and take the gospel to every creature. Pres. Oaks said, "To proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a fundamental principle of the Christian faith." [3]  

It's also a responsibility which squarely rests upon the shoulders of the Twelve:

"I give unto you my servant Brigham Young to be a president over the Twelve traveling council; Which Twelve hold the keys to open up the authority of my kingdom upon the four corners of the earth, and after that to send my word to every creature." [4] 

"The responsibility to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world is explicitly given to those who were called and ordained Apostles of the Lord." [5] 

In implementing this directive, the Lord charged His servants to "seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God." [6] That means whatever pertains to this world - no matter what it is - doesn't hold a candle to building God's kingdom. That's why Pres. Benson said, "Preaching the saving principles of the gospel has ever been a great responsibility of first importance." [7] 

So, how is that "Go ye into all the world," "Preach the gospel to every creature" and baptize directive going?

1990: Apostle Russell M. Nelson prophesied the following at a January 7, 1990 BYU devotional:

"Church membership has just passed the seven million mark. Conservative projections indicate that by the year 2000, the Church will have doubled in size. Its membership will then number at least fourteen million. While we now have 1,730 stakes, by the end of the decade there will be more than 3,600 stakes and many more temples. We will be precisely on course in fulfillment of scriptural prophecy that this work will eventually and literally fill the earth (see D&C 65:2)." [8] 

Reality check: By the end of the year 2000 church membership stood at 11,068,861 -- three million short of Nelson's "prophecy". The number of stakes was 2,581, over 1,000 fewer than Nelson's prediction/prophecy. [9]  

1999: Pres. Gordon B Hinckley laid down an audacious goal for the church in the April 1999 General Conference:

"Last year there were approximately 300,000 convert baptisms throughout the Church. This is tremendously significant. But it is not enough. I am not being unrealistic when I say that with concerted effort, with recognition of the duty which falls upon each of us as members of the Church, and with sincere prayer to the Lord for help, we could double that number." [10] 

Reality check: The 600,000 convert baptisms in a year never happened. In fact, 2020 posted a convert baptism rate of less than half that 300k number, which is also less than a quarter of his 600,000 expectation. [11]  

2015: Prophet-seer-revelator Elder Holland said in an interview that:

"But we're greatly blessed, and they [the full-time missionaries] continue to come. They continue to serve. And those numbers will increase. We're projecting out probably within four years, the baseline number for the missionary force will be something around 100,000." [12]  

Reality check: In 2019, there were 67,021 full-time missionaries - a miss by around 1/3.

2015: Elder Quentin L. Cook (Remember: "Prophets of God always speak the truth.") [13] stated in the April 2015 General Conference that:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been stronger. The number of members removing their names from the records of the church has always been very small and is significantly less in recent years than in the past." [14] 

Reality check: In 2015, the 2014 stats were showing a 1.9% membership growth rate. Is that what the Lord expects of his "one true church"? Of those who supposedly hold the priesthood of God? Of the pre-existence's "chosen" and "valiant" ones? Of prophets/seers/revelators?

2015: A 2015 Deseret News article quoted Seventy Joseph W. Sitati as saying, "The rate of growth [in Africa] has been close to exponential." [15]  

Reality check: Matt Martinich (founder of the LDS Church Growth blog, which tracks Mormon growth and retention internationally) said, "LDS growth in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be extremely limited. Overall growth trends have appeared much more modest than the 'exponential' growth claims in the recent LDS news release." [16] 

2016: Elder Holland (who also always speaks the truth) told folks at a Young Single Adult Conference in Dallas, TX that:

"We're in the midst of incredible growth, staggering growth in the church. It's the single biggest problem we have. It's the best problem we have, but it's the biggest. We are reeling under the implications of the growth we have in this church. Last Thursday, I've been out here this Thursday, I've been with Elder and Sister Holland and I've been with Elder and Sister Robbins, this week, so I missed the temple meeting this Thursday, but a week ago Thursday we created 15 stakes, and we are doing that más o menos every week, more or less. It might not be 15, but its… the week before it was 12, sometimes it's 8 or whatever and it'll be a little uneven, but the point is, I mean, we are talking double digit stakes every week. Every week of our lives." [17]  

Reality check: That year, the church created 92 new stakes - not even two a week. In 2020, it was exactly one every two weeks. So much for "double digit stakes every week. Every week of our lives." How is the number of missions in 2020 and 2013 being the same considered "staggering growth"? How is a 0.6% growth rate "staggering growth"? How is going from 85,147 to 51,819 (a 39% decrease) in full-time missionaries "staggering growth"?

(By the way, since the apostles are responsible (per scripture) for the church's missionary efforts, I would be interested in reading how many people each of them directly bring into the church each year. You know, some of that "accountability / return and report / lead by example" stuff we're fond of drilling into the heads of the church's local leaders).

Here's what can't be distorted: The church's own reported statistics (the sources are hyperlinked in the year):





















     Stakes count change










     % change








































     Wards count change










Total Mems










    Membership change










    % change










New Children of Record










    New CoR change










    Percent growth










Convert baptisms










    Convert baptisms change










    Percent growth










Full-Time Missionaries










    Percent growth










Temples in Operation










    New temples change










The facts - as published by the church - paint a much different picture than what the Brethren are publicly saying. 

Back in 2018, Martinich called the multiple downward trajectories of church growth "pretty significant." [18]  He also said that U.S. growth has not been this low "in approximately 100 years or longer" (and that was before the even steeper declines within the last four years).

The Big Reality Check

In Russell M. Nelson's aforementioned 1990 BYU devotional, he said that by the year 2000, 

"We will be precisely on course in fulfillment of scriptural prophecy that this work will eventually and literally fill the earth (see D&C 65:2)."

Perhaps we are precisely on course for something all right: a setting in order of the house of God, [19]  because it's so diametrically out of order.

As we read near the top of this post, we are to "seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God."

How is the church doing in seeking not the things of this world? With all its real estate purchases, land and agricultural holdings, stocks/other funds as well as befriending/partnering with organizations which espouse man-made, not god-centered world initiatives, I think it could be said without too much argumentation that the church is awash in the things of this world.

Contrast this with how the church is doing relative to taking the gospel to the world - an almost non-existent membership growth rate, double-digit decreases in new children of record, convert baptisms and full-time missionaries as well as an insignificant amount of humanitarian aid - and it's easy to see that "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." [20] 

We are told, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." [21] 

What kinds of fruits do they have to show for their labors? If the fruit - that is, the above statistics - are bad, what does the savior say of the tree? That the apostles have primary responsibility over missionary work is indisputable. 

It's also indisputable that the Lord would never give the church an unrealistic goal (like filling the whole earth with the gospel). 

I say it's high time the apostles do what they expect us to do at the local level: Return and Report. Show some accountability. Show some new results.

That should be pretty easy to do for 15 men who are prophets, seers and revelators.

Then again, maybe not...

The November Surprise

With everything we know at the top of the post about the Lord's passion for taking his gospel to the world and baptizing people, it's shocking that Pres. Nelson said in November 2019,

"I don't think the Lord's interested really in how many members of the church we have. What he's interested in is how many of my children choose to come back and enjoy eternal life in his holy presence." [22] 

If that's the case, then:

  • Why was God so hot on people being baptized (and therefore, joining the church), but now he's not?
  • If the Lord doesn't care, why keep count?
  • How does this quote further motivate the full-time missionary force?
  • Why have a missionary program at all? 
  • Shouldn't the number of members and the number who choose to come back and enjoy eternal life be the same?
  • How can people "come back and enjoy eternal life in his holy presence" without baptism? 
  • Or is there a new way to "come back and enjoy eternal life in his holy presence" without joining the church?

The longer we stay in this situation, the crazier it gets.

"by their works ye shall know them,
for if their works be good, then
they are good also." (Moroni 7:5)

(OK, manager: How's your team doing? Are they struggling? For how long? Finally, what can be done to straighten out your team (with at least a modest sense of urgency?) I look forward to reading your observations in the comments).

Covid Updates
"Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective."
"We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders"
"We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population."
(First Presidency message of Thursday, August 12, 2021)
"by their works ye shall know them, for if their works be good, then they are good also." (Moroni 7:5)
"That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually." (Moroni 7:13)
"Whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him,
and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil." (Moroni 7:17)


 1.   Mark 16:14-16; Matthew 28:19
 2.   D&C 112:28
 3.   "Sharing the Gospel," October 2001 General Conference.
 4.   D&C 124:127-128
 5.   Pres. David O. McKay, "Present Responsibility of the Church in Missionary Work," April 1954 General Conference.
 6.   JST Matthew 6:38.
 7.   "A World Message," April 1970 General Conference.
12.   Jeffrey R Holland interview with Hugh Hewitt, February 27, 2015;
17.   Jeffrey R. Holland, Young Single Adult Conference, Dallas, TX, April 24, 2016; 
19.   D&C 85:7.
20.   Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34; 3 Nephi 13:21.
21.   Matthew 7:20


Anonymous said...

for years and years I have tried to win my family over to the Church. But now with leaders who lie to us, I cannot even lead my family to the church at all! So much for all of my efforts!

they not only lie, but contribute to abortion, genocide (Bill Gates), and who knows what else.

I even turned down my ministering to the inactive, because I cannot in good conscience recommend that they return to the church!

Until the church is purged of these abominations I even cannot return. I cannot sit in church and pretend that all is well at all.

To attend is giving consent to the abominations of satanic ritual masking, social distancing and human sacrifice due to jabs! The church is responsible for the jabbing of 1 billion people, mandating the jabs for the choir, BYU, MTC and temple square. How many lives are going to be ruined by these jabs?

MarkinPNW said...

There was one purchase by the Church that I actually sustained, a large ranch in the Palouse region of Eastern Washington as it kept it out of Bill Gates' hands. But if the Church is going to promote and sustain the rest of Bill Gates' agenda, what good is it really going to do?

And I know one family in the ward, with one son of missionary age and another approaching missionary age, where the sons are not putting in for their missions due to the covid vax requirements! And in the recent past these same sons kept getting into trouble for not wearing masks, especially when blessing the sacrament.

Anonymous said...

At this point it should be blatantly obvious, to anyone who has eyes to see, that the product being offered by the LDS church is not desirable. To coin the popular phrase: "What's good about the church isn't unique and what's unique about the church isn't good." I woke up to this stuff over the course of the last 5-8 years. My wife is slowly coming around but she earnestly desires our family to attend church. I'm happy to teach them the scriptures to my kids but, honestly, they don't even want that. They simply have no interest. They see no benefit in it. I have to wonder why, if the Gospel is as amazing as everyone says, is it so hard to sell? Why aren't people flocking to our buildings, begging to be baptized? The truth is that what they are offering is completely without substance. Yes, it can start a person on the long abandoned road towards finding God. But God isn't going to be found in those pews, or those lessons, or those dead ordinances. I wish more people could see that.

We still attend but I can barely stomach it.

Anonymous said...

I am in your same position. I attend church to avoid martial strife. But, there is no life in this church.

Telavian said...

I still attend because I think there is a lot of good still left in the church. However I have been disfellowshipped because I was very vocal that we shouldn't follow everything President Nelson says and instead follow the scriptures and pray to God for guidance.

I meet with my Stake President monthly. Yesterday we talked and he said the classic line that, "I would do anything the prophet says even if it was wrong". I then read him the quote from Joseph which starts with, "We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them even if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience is worse than folly to us;"

He was so mad at me that he actually told me to leave his office. I looked at the time and then said, "Why, we still have 4 minutes left". 😀

A Disciple said...

So perfectly stated!

"What's good about the church isn't unique and what's unique about the church isn't good."

Up until a few years ago I was able to declare with heartfelt sincerity that being fully involved in my ward and stake was a tremendous blessing, as it allowed me to observe and learn from men and women who loved God and valued having his spirit in their lives.

It's all changed, not for the better, and why? President Nelson and the First Presidency have so over-managed, over-cooked and over-engineered the church into their idea of a more efficient organization, they have fundamentally altered the perspective members have of the church and their position in it.

Everything about the Church since President Nelson was elevated to the first chair has been oriented around two things: President Nelson himself and changes to the church program. Lay church leadership has responded in kind. The attention is on "supporting the brethren", implementing the new programs and restructuring and reorganization of church units.

The things of the Spirit have been squelched, if not smothered, by the constant reprogramming.

Then Covid hit. Up through the April 2020 General Conference the indications were the Church leadership was going to lead by faith. This was the moment when the Church would rise up and by the power of God be an ensign to the world.

And then nothing. With no announcement that I know of President Nelson and the First Presidency walked away from the opportunity to ask members to exercise Faith in God, and instead left church units at the mercy of their local government authorities.

And since spring 2020, the message of President Nelson has been to praise secular leaders, and to counsel members to conform to their rules. Faith and moral agency be damned.

So what does the Church stand for today? It stands for worldly, secular government. It stands for rigid, loyal support of leadership. It stands for elevating fear and the cares of the world.

But actual Faith in Christ and Trust in God. Discernment of Truth & Error, Recognizing and taking a stand against wickedness? Don't take those ideas too seriously! Doing so might create headaches for Church leadership and earn them negative press, which must not happen! Only positive press is acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Stake Prez here told us investigators and baptisms were way up. I have no reason to not believe him. The Gospel of Christ is true in the end. That said I can't help but wonder if it's because they have an inkling that they are going to pass away after having the shot. So many people are feeling like they got messed up from it.

Anonymous said...

This entire talk by Brad Wilcox is tone deaf about the very things you describe. "All is well in Zion," he says while at the same time trying to make sure the youth don't leave the church. He even says the new FSY this summer will help not only the youth, but the parents to hopefully quit fighting about the vaccine and masks.

A Disciple said...

The leaders of the church of RMN are on the wrong side of history. Those church statements pushing masking and jabbing, especially of children, are going to age very poorly. Track record is they will refuse to accept accountability for what they did and how their actions contributed to mass public hysteria about the germ that 99.95% of us, and 99.998% of children, will survive.

Remember, the leaders acknowledged the loneliness and despair caused by Covid rules. Yet they did not call for a change in those rules!! They supported them and criticized members who objected to the mindless cruelty of them.

I wonder if Moroni was talking about masks when he wrote the following (for how better to not notice the despair of others than to force those suffering to cover their faces?)

"Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?"