Last week the Associated Press reported:
“The Assemblies of God, the Mormon church and the Roman Catholic Church were the fastest-growing major denominations in the United States last year, according to the just-released 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
“The Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal church, grew 1.81 percent to just under 2.8 million members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints increased 1.74 percent to nearly 6 million people. And the Catholic Church, by the far the largest denomination in the United States, grew .83 percent to 67.8 million parishioners.”
A few years ago Mormon researcher David Stewart wrote:
“While the LDS Church is still one of the faster growing churches in the United States, most of the growth is due to the fact that a full one-third of all full-time LDS missions are concentrated in the U.S., with less than 5% of the world’s population, and that U.S. Latter-day Saints average approximately one more child per family than non-LDS U.S. citizens. When the LDS birth rate and full-time missionary efforts are taken into consideration, member-missionary efforts account for just 12-14% of LDS Church growth in North America.”
Announced at the LDS General Conference earlier this month, as of December 31, 2005 the Mormon Church claimed 12,560,869 members worldwide. This included an increase of “children of record” (that is, newly baptized children of members) of 93,150; plus 243,108 new converts baptized; totaling 336,258 new members for the LDS Church. However, the Church reported an overall total growth of 285,047 members from December 31, 2004 to December 31, 2005; therefore, the Church lost 51,211 previously baptized members during the same period.
While the Mormon Church continues to expand, there have been no reports of increased retention rates. The surprisingly low activity level of baptized LDS converts was the subject of news reports in July of last year when the Salt Lake Tribune reported, among other startling facts, that the estimated worldwide activity of LDS membership is only around 35 percent. That means that of the 12.5 million members currently recorded, about 8 million are inactive.