The Robust Growth of Mormonism

Mormon TempleAfter the Mormon Church released its membership statistics in April (2013), Mike at, a self-proclaimed “stats geek,” analyzed the church’s self-reported membership data from 1970 to the present. Replete with charts and graphs, it is a fascinating look at Mormon Church growth over these 40-plus years. Please take the time to read Mike’s report if you can. For those who choose not to, here is a brief summary of what his report includes.

Mike first graphed total membership, noting that there has been strong growth over the years. “The LDS Church grew from about 3 million members in 1970 to about 15 million in 2012, which means it grew five times larger in a little more than 40 years,” Mike wrote.

Next Mike graphed the year-over-year change in membership. This is the number of members added each year. The graph shows that Mormon Church is adding an increasing number of new members every year (i.e., each year the number of new members is higher than the number of new members recorded the previous year). Mike wrote, “There’s still an upward trend in year-over-year change in membership since 1970, but there’s also a notable downward trend since the peak in the early 1990s.”

Next Mike graphed “the percentage of year-over-year change in membership compared to the total number of members, which is effectively the church rate of growth.” While the growth rate has been slowing, Mike noted, “at the current growth rate, each year a (slightly) larger percentage of the world’s population belongs to the LDS Church.”

The next graph is total yearly convert baptisms (without considering retention information). “Since 1990 the trend has generally tapered downward with an obvious low spot in the mid-2000s.  It has somewhat recovered in the past few years, but the current number of annual baptisms still falls short of the rates seen during the 1990s,” Mike explained.

A graph showing the annual convert baptisms as a percentage of the total demonstrates a “definite downward trend.” This means that each year a smaller percentage of Mormons are recent converts. Mike wrote, “Over time, new converts are becoming rarer in the Mormon church.  In 1980 nearly 1/5 of all members had been baptized within the previous five years.  By 1990 the number had fallen to about 1/6, and in 2012 fewer than 1/10 of members had been baptized within the past five years.  The opposite is true too; more than 90% of all current LDS church members have been Mormon for over five years (92.3%).”

Mike included a couple of graphs dealing with children of record and 8-year-old baptisms, but the church’s reporting of those statistics has been inconsistent so it’s hard to understand what the numbers mean.

Finally, Mike graphed “Statistical Anomalies” he found in the data. He found that many years had significant discrepancies between the reported sub-totals as compared to the reported totals in church growth.  “To break down this yearly 100% [i.e., total church membership growth], we’ll take the percentage of the growth that’s due to convert baptisms, 8-year-olds baptized, and the total of the two.  Together each year, the two statistics should add up to about 100%, allowing some wiggle room for members who have died or left.  However, these totals shouldn’t be too far from 100% because, well, you can’t convert more than 100% of the members added and you can’t add members that you don’t baptize.” Some years tens of thousands of members were unaccounted for as in 1973 when the church reported an increase of 87,750 members while also reporting 80,128 new converts and 52,789 children baptized. Some years the discrepancy went the other way, as in 1989, “when the total number of baptisms falls short of the Mormon church membership increase for that year.  The LDS church shows a membership increase of 587,234 in 1989, but there were only 318,940 convert baptisms and 75,000 8-year-old baptisms, meaning that 193,294 members were added to the membership total that weren’t baptized.”

Mike wrote, “It’s anyone’s guess as to what’s going on.” But one thing is clear: though the trend is slowing, the Mormon Church continues to experience “robust” growth according to its self-reported statistics (which do not differentiate between active and inactive members). This doesn’t mean, as many Mormons like to think, that the Mormon Church is “the only true and living church upon the face to the whole earth” with which God is “well-pleased” (D&C 1:30). Rather, it is a call for those who belong to Jesus to continue to “fight the good fight of faith,” “guard the deposit entrusted to you,” and patiently correct those in opposition to God’s truth (1 Timothy 6:12, 20; 2 Timothy 2: 24-25). It is a call for us to stay on our knees, pleading with God for His mercy toward the Mormon people, that 2 Timothy 2:25-26 may become their story.

May it be so, Lord Jesus.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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59 Responses to The Robust Growth of Mormonism

  1. Alex says:

    This is a false syllogism. Revelation from Heavenly Father is not based on emotionalism.

  2. fifth monarchy man says:

    Alex said,
    Revelation from Heavenly Father is not based on emotionalism.
    I say,

    OK I’ll bite

    How then do you know that you have received actual revelation? How can you be sure that what you “received” is not from a demonic or human source?

    thanks in advance


  3. Mike R says:


    It’s hard to take you serious . You really should consider doing something different with your
    time .

  4. Silkworm says:

    MJP: I guess I misunderstood what you want. You asked if I learned about Christianity just to learn about Christianity and I said yes.
    You asked which books, and I did not mention any specific title or author because I can’t remember which titles and authors. I have read many over the years, and am currently doing so. To be honest my memory is not great anymore due to medications. I am not trying to avoid any question or avoid answering anything. And I do talk to people. I have friends of many faiths. I have relatives of many faiths. And I read religious sites on the Internet. A while back I did ask an honest question and Falcon had to give one of his smart alek replies without answering, and no one else answered.
    So if you want the names of specific books then you will have to give me some time to go to the library so I can write the information down to give it to you. I used to be able to access a large city library and a university library. I do not have that kind of access now. The library where I live is small.
    I do not pray about everything I read about or learn about or try to learn about. I was taught to look at all sides of an issue, think about it, examine it, look at it from different angles, regardless of the subject matter.

    MJP you also said: Reading anything without knowing what it is is not a very good way to learn.
    I really do not know what you mean or are getting at with this statement. Please explain.
    Thank you.

  5. 2bowdown says:

    Falcon: Once again, you are all over the place with your comments. And don’t worry, I don’t take offense to any accusations or straight forward comments, but it is impossible to delve into a topic if your bouncing around all over the place. If there is something specific you want me to respond to just let me know, but there is no way I can respond to every one of your accusations and assumptions. I simply don’t have the time.

  6. 2bowdown says:

    If one reads the Bible from front to back there is a theme that is repeated over and over again. The theme is Put you Trust in God. I think we all could cite at least a few scriptures from both the Old and New testament where this lesson is given. If you believe the Bible then you should believe this counsel.

  7. MJP says:

    Silkworm, here is your initial response to my question:

    “Yes! I have studied, and continue to study, Christianity just to learn about Christianity. From many sources. I prefer to get the majority of my information from books, when possible.”

    I certainly don’t expect you to list every single book you have read, but you would hopefully agree that just reading books to read books is not a good way to research anything. Research requires a purpose, plan, and a direction. I would classify learning about a faith as research.

    Unfortunately, Christianity has a huge, unmanageable amount of books dedicated to it. Some are worthwhile, most are not. There are books about its history. There are books about the Reformation. There are books about historical Christian figures. There are books about theology. There are books about books in the Bible. There are critical books. There are comparative books. There are books and books and books about Christianity. Not all are valuable to research what our faith actually stands for.

    The topic covered is important, and so is the author. A John McArther, Charles Stanley, or Billy Graham are good authors. I would avoid the likes of Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen. You are familiar with CS Lewis, I am sure, but you may not be familiar with GK Chesterton, St. Augustine, Wesley, Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers, Ravi Zacharias, and more.

    Just as you would tell me to avoid certain authors to learn about Mormonism, I tell you the same is true with my faith. The source is important.

    But blindly saying you read a lot, and prefer reading rather than talking, is meaningless.

    You then say this: “I do not pray about everything I read about or learn about or try to learn about. I was taught to look at all sides of an issue, think about it, examine it, look at it from different angles, regardless of the subject matter.” How is it then that you confirmed your faith in Mormonism? Missionaries teach people to read specific passages, pray about them, and wait for confirmation by way of a burning in their bosom. I’m not sure that’s looking at all sides, thinking about it, nor examining it from different angles.

  8. MJP says:


    Indeed, we are to trust in God, aren’t we? That’s not in question, though, is it?

  9. fifth monarchy man says:

    2bowdown said,

    If one reads the Bible from front to back there is a theme that is repeated over and over again. The theme is Put you Trust in God.

    I say,


    The question is not whether or not you should trust God, of course you should
    The question is how do you determine that the “spirit” you are hearing is from God and not from a demonic or human source.

    The Lord in the Bible commands us to test the spirits and as I pointed out earlier it gives at least two specific ways to do so.

    If you trust God you should obey his commandments and test the Spirits.
    Don’t you agree?


    “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth,
    (John 14:15-17a)

    end quote:

    see how simple that is

    Do what Jesus says (including testing the spirits) and you will know the truth.
    Don’t however expect him to revel the truth to you if you are unwilling to do what he clearly says to do.


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