Things To Act
Monday, April 05, 2004
General Conference Stats
Just for fun, I whipped up an Excel table of the stats for the last several years (1996-2003). If anyone knows if Blogger will post embedded files, let me know, but I can't see a way, so I'll just excerpt interesting bits. Well, interesting to me, anyway.

Stakes: Growth under 2% since 1998 (and even negative in 2002). Not much seems to be going on here. Districts, missions, and W&B don't seem to have dramatic swings either.

Growth in membership

2003: 2.2%
2002: 2.9%
2001: 2.9%
2000: 2.9%
1999: 3.9%
1998: 2.8%
1997: 3.9%

Of course, membership by itself doesn't take many factors into account. The Church doesn't release activity rates, and even the listing of members of record is probably overstated as less-actives who die aren't as likely to have their records cancelled promptly (and recording of deaths itself depends on local ward clerks, whose diligence varies dramatically). Trying to work out the death rate is also interesting. I tried, based on the assumption that children of record are included in the membership totals, and got the following:

Membership minus last year's minus converts minus increase in COR (should equal deaths?)
2003: -78,674
2002: -37,244
2001: -36,473
2000: -39,548
1999: 8,456
1998: -92,246
1997: -17,037

The problem being, of course, that negative 8000 people seem to have died in 1999, so one of my assumptions seems to be wrong somewhere (maybe 8K excommunicated members were rebaptised?). Trying again:

Membership minus last year's minus converts (should equal 8-year old baptisms minus deaths?)
2003: 20,783
2003: 43,888
2002: 33,049
2001: 41,902
2000: 92,574
1999: -15,417
1998: 58,177

This still gives some wild swings, but at least it's more plausible, if less useful. Interestingly, the Church used to list 8-year old baptisms, but switched to increase in COR.

Speaking of COR, the last several years:
2003: 99,457
2002: 81,132
2001: 69,522
2000: 81,450
1999: 84,118
1998: 76,829
1997: 75,214

I don't know enough about demographics to even speculate about the differences from year to year.

Convert baptisms had a high of 321,385 in 1996 on my table (maybe it was higher before that, but I'm not going to bother to look). The numbers have gone down, but with two upticks (1999 and 2001), but plenty can affect that, not least the practice of GA's going around to various missions and telling them to stop stat-baptising (on my mission, a Seventy told us how on his previous assignment, they had worked to bring the baptism rate down, as retention was horrible. I view this decrease as a good thing). Absent data on activity rates, I'm inclined to view a lower number as nothing to worry about, as I suspect that retention is up, percentagewise.

Full-time missionaries rose to a high of 61,638 in 2002, to drop to 56,237 in 2003--evidently an artifact of the 'raising the bar' standards. In my mission, at least, I suspect that at least 8.9% of the missionaries were slackers, so I don't view this drop as anything to worry about either (particularly as some who were prevented from going last year may yet qualify themselves, and be better missionaries for it).

Another measure of missionary effectiveness would be converts per missionary:
2003: 4.3
2002: 4.6
2001: 4.8
2000: 4.5
1999: 5.22
1998: 5.17
1997: 5.6

The general trend here seems to have been downward the last several years. It’ll be interesting to see if the long-term impact of raising the bar (which should simultaneously raise missionary quality while lowering the number of missionaries serving) is enough to reverse that trend. Other unknown variables, of course, include the number of individuals prepared to join the Church in the countries in which we currently proselytize, as well as the effectiveness of members in sharing the gospel.

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