Member Inactivity in the Mormon Church

On Tuesday (23 September 2014) the blog nearing kolob took a look at recent Mormon missionary reports regarding localized Church inactivity. What follows is a summary of nearing kolob’s research findings (that they gleaned unscientifically from reading Mormon missionary blog posts).

  • South America Northwest area: Out of 1,800,000 members, 1,000,000 do not go to church.
  • Germany: After two stake presidents left the Church, 90% of the ward in Dortmund is inactive.
  • Santo Domingo West Mission, cities of Ocoa and Parra: Members are refusing callings, six former branch presidents have gone inactive, and the small 350-member branch of Parra is “basically all inactive.”
  • Arizona, Scottsdale: 75% of the reporting missionary’s ward is inactive.
  • West Virginia: Most of the wards and branches are comprised of inactive members.
  • Colombia, Cali: Most of the ward leaders are inactive.
  • Belgium/Netherlands: 75% of the reporting missionary’s ward is inactive.
  • Argentina, Mendoza: 60.8% of the ward is inactive.
  • Canada, Montreal: Most of the reporting missionary’s ward is inactive or borderline inactive.
  • Michigan, Detroit: The reporting missionary’s ward had only 30 people at a Sunday service because “the rest of the ward is inactive.”
  • Spain, Malaga: 70% of the reporting missionary’s ward is inactive.
  • Philippines, Quezon City: The reporting missionary suggests (exaggerates?) that 95% of her ward is inactive.
  • Philippines, Cebu: The majority of the ward is inactive.
  • Texas, Seagoville: An “enormous portion” of the reporting missionary’s ward is inactive.

Harvest timeWhile this information is likely troubling to LDS leaders, and perhaps encouraging to critics of Mormonism, it does not prove or disprove anything about the truthfulness of the religion. What it does tell us is that a significant number of Mormons are dissatisfied with their faith.

Friends, people who leave Mormonism for a life without Christ are no better off in the eternal scheme of things than people who remain LDS and follow a “different Jesus.” These inactivity reports are a poignant reminder that, as Christians, we do not seek merely to lead people away from Mormonism. We are called to a much greater purpose. Our hope and deepest longing is to walk with those who are spiritually lost, helping them along that rough but glorious pathway to new life in Christ. The great scope of Mormon inactivity does not reduce the size of our mission field one bit. Let us keep our shoulders to the plow until the field is ripe and ready to harvest.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone,
able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.
God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil,
after being captured by him to do his will.”
(2 Timothy 2:24-26)

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.
This entry was posted in LDS Church, Mormon Missionaries and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Member Inactivity in the Mormon Church

  1. falcon says:

    It would be interesting, if it could be done, to compare LDS inactivity with that of other religions. Activity and inactivity doesn’t indicate what is true and not true about a religious group. I’ve heard for years that the churches of Europe are basically empty. What is significant about LDS inactivity is the fact that the LDS church loves to brag about being a fast or fastest growing religious group.
    Also, inactivity, doesn’t tell us much about peoples’ individual faith in God. I remember George Barna, researcher in Christianity, regarding how many “born again” Christians who don’t attend church.

    “Although church involvement was once a cornerstone of American life, U.S. adults today are evenly divided on the importance of attending church. While half (49%) say it is “somewhat” or “very” important, the other 51% say it is “not too” or “not at all” important. The divide between the religiously active and those resistant to churchgoing impacts American culture, morality, politics and religion.”
    “While tens of millions of Americans attend church each weekend, the practice has declined in recent years. According to Barna Group’s 2014 tracking data, overall church attendance has dipped from 43% in 2004 to 36% today. But beyond a dip in attendance numbers, the nature of churchgoing is changing. Regular attenders used to be people who went to church three or more weekends each month—or even several times a week. Now people who show up once every four to six weeks consider themselves regular churchgoers. Many pastors and church leaders are accounting for sporadic attendance in their ministry planning.”

    “Furthermore, the percentage of people who have not attended a church function at all in the past six months has surged in the last decade from one-third to nearly two-fifths of all Americans. The shift is even more drastic among younger Americans: more than half of Millennials and Gen Xers say they have not been to church in the last six months. ”

    This article is from July so it’s recent data. I don’t know if the implications of LDS sect members not active is less or greater than that of any other religious groups. I do know that the commitment to the LDS program has a lot to do with which level of reward a Mormon will garner at the end. Inactivity means that the individual will not go to the Celestial Kingdom and therefore will not become a god. It’s apparent that becoming a god just isn’t all that important for most on the rolls of the LDS church.

  2. falcon says:

    I’d be curious as to whether or not these inactive LDS sect members still hold to the Mormon testimony that they repeat. You know the drill; Joseph Smith was a prophet, the BoM is the real deal, the LDS church is the “one true church” and the current prophet is indeed hearing from the Mormon god.
    Then think about it. Who would want to do Mormonism as the LDS folks define it? The time, money and various other commitments are huge not to mention the intrusive nature of the Word of Wisdom. The number of “converts” that would stick with the program has to really be small.
    In areas not dominated by Mormon culture, converts can slip out the back door and never have to worry about the social consequences beyond the fact that they’re going to have to probably make new friends. In foreign countries there are probably zero consequences to dropping out.
    So I’d like to know why Mormons go inactive but we all ready know that.

  3. Mike R says:

    I appreciate what Sharon has stated about our concern for those in Mormonism . She rightly
    reminds us that to see a Mormon leave their church is not the goal for those who minister to
    the Mormon people, rather it is to see them come to the true authentic Savior and thus receive
    the gift of eternal life . Sometimes we can use the term ” ex Mormon” in conversations with
    those who have never been Mormons in such a way that implies that since a person leaves
    the Mormon church , either voluntarily or by excommunication , that therefore they are saved .
    My wife and I were involved in a support group at one time for those who were ex Jw’s .
    Some of those who attended the meetings did’nt want anything to do with disavowing Jw
    doctrine about Jesus / salvation etc, they showed up because we were willing to listen
    to their story of being disfellowshiped / shunned and the emotions that produced . Others
    discovered that the Watchtower prophet was indeed a false prophet who had misled them , and
    they had looked into the Bible without JW glasses and found out who Jesus really was and
    had accepted Him confessing Him to be their personal Savior . These persons were not
    merely ex Jw’s , but ex Jw’s FOR JESUS etc .That is a massive difference . For some of these
    dear people it can a long time before they discover this truth and be truly free . Same for
    ex Mormons . Patience and a caring heart towards those out of autocratic groups like these
    is a necessity .

  4. RikkiJ says:

    Sharon and Mike R. Great points.

    As far as the LDS Church stands, I believe their fiscal days may be numbered, if the current lawsuit against them gains ground. Both sides of the range – one they might just lose a lot of money or worst case scenario, be forced to close. Lichtfield has sued and has legal precedent to win, unlike the previous lawsuit in late 2013/early 2014.

  5. Mike R says:

    RikkiJ , I think that the Mormon church would have by now been only a shell of what it once
    was if Mormon leaders had’nt devised the plan they did several decades ago of aggressively
    promoting Mormonism as fully christian which needed to be invited at the table with the
    christian denominations in the community . Polls still reveal a not insignificant percent of the
    public being skeptical about Mormonism , and the church leaders are still working hard at overcoming that. They revamped Temple square years ago to reflect less Mormon and more
    christian perception , and recently the church’s History museum is being closed down for a year
    to be renovated . Senior curator Kurt Graham states that the heart of the exhibit : ” It will be
    much clearer to people that we are a Christian church . Even that is something that not
    everybody understands who comes to visit here. ” [ Salt Lake Tribune 9-24-2014 ] .

    I think when it comes to why most Mormons leave altogether or become inactive stems from
    the fact that their leaders have failed them . The Mormon church has become a huge billion
    dollar financial empire , and it’s top leaders have treated their followers in ways the rank and
    file deem troubling . These leaders don’t trust their followers to know exactly how much they
    receive financially , and controversy over issues in Mormon history/doctrine are still answered
    rather anemically , i.e. the recent Gospel Topics articles . All in all a growing number of rank
    and file members are feeling short changed by those at the top .

    It bears repeating : Mormonism is not the answer for those who desire to follow Jesus .
    It claims to be His ” restored church ” , however it is not a restored church but rather
    a substituted church — and it appears that more and more LDS are discovering that fact .

  6. RikkiJ says:

    I’m all for LDSaints discovering that it’s a substituted church. The unfortunate fact is that most of the public who join the LDS ranks assume that because the person promoting the LDS gospel is a nice person, what they say must be true. Whereas, the nicety of a person is no spiritual barometer of what truth really is.

  7. falcon says:

    Mormonism as practiced by the LDS sect can be a tough slog for the members. It’s very demanding. Not everyone is up to the challenge, for a variety of reasons. For those who are just not that into it, the sacrifices are a pure drag. But there are others who thrive within the structure, the routine and the expectations. They enjoy the culture.
    It’s obvious that there are those who love the LDS church. It’s become their god and why shouldn’t it? It’s through obedience to the LDS system that they believe they will receive their final reward of becoming a god. The LDS church is where their identity is.
    So being a goal oriented type guy, I ask myself what sort of a goal could the LDS sect leaders set to increase activity levels of the inactive members and what would the means be to effect this? If someone is really a true believer in the Joseph Smith story, it would be fairly easy to up their activity level. However if the inactives weren’t really all that dedicated to Smith and his tale, they really wouldn’t be impressed by measures to increase their activity level.
    I think the LDS church, based as it is, on Joseph Smith’s “testimony” will never achieve a high rate of activity among those on the rolls of the church. If activity is measured by participating in the church’s programs, like the Boy Scouts for example, that is one thing. But if it means being a “temple Mormon” then that’s another thing all together. For the five million out of the fifteen million “members” on the rolls of the church, counted as active, this doesn’t mean being a temple Mormon. I would venture to guess that maybe 20% to 25% of those counted as active, do the temple program.

  8. falcon says:

    Absent any fear on the part of an inactive LDS, there really isn’t any way the one true church is going to be able to pressure the inactives to be active. These inactives are a potential revenue source for the LDS church and all that cash is just sitting there. Calculate the tithe of ten million LDS inactive members and the church wouldn’t be able to contain their excitement. But how do you get an inactive non-tithe paying “member” to get all charged up about the LDS system? Short answer, the church can’t do it. It’s especially difficult with converts who haven’t been “Mormonized”.
    The LDS church has some success in recruiting but far less success in getting a convert to stay with the program and get into the temple member status.

  9. Kate says:

    I know many, many inactive LDS. Interestingly, most of my family on the side that was with Joseph Smith in the beginning are inactive and have been for several generations. My inactive LDS friends and family only step inside an LDS church for funerals, weddings and sometimes a baby blessing. The rest of the time they the church isn’t even on their radar.
    Oh and I highly doubt those family members that were there in the beginning would recognize the LDS church as the true church, they would line up more with the FLDS or Kingston clan.

    If there are around 5 million active LDS and only 20%-25% of those have been through a temple then that leaves 75%-80% of active members that aren’t practicing all of the doctrines and ordinances of this religion. Why bother? The majority is only living a portion and not the portion that gets them godhood, their own planet, spirit children to worship them as all mighty god, polygamy, and eternal life in the presence of their god. What makes people settle for second or third best? I’m thinking part of it is that they have the safety net of someone else doing their temple work for them after they die. Why do the hard stuff here when the work can be done for you?

  10. falcon says:

    I don’t get this concept that the work can be done in the next “world” after death for an LDS member or someone who isn’t even in the program. That’s right up there with “after all you can do”. I don’t see the incentive quite frankly, for a Mormon to knock themselves out in the here-and-now.
    I repeat, the number of those willing to be temple Mormons will always be quite small. These are low commitment individuals who probably don’t have much of a burning in the bosom if any at all.
    Mormonism reminds me of Free Masonry of which it drew most, if not all, of the temple rituals. I knew guys in the “lodge” who joined but never participated in all of the hocus pocus. But there are those who really like belonging to a club like this. It’s the same with LDS/FLDS style Mormonism.
    When I visited the visitors’ centers for the LDS and then the CoC in Nauvoo, the differences between the two groups was startling. The CoC folks were way laid back in comparison to the LDS. They saw the warts in their history and were way more realistic and far less cult like in their approach. The LDS folks were majoring in providing a “spiritual” experience for the members. It was total emotionalism but the faithful grooved on it. I could tell.

  11. johnnyboy says:

    Hey guys! Haven’t been on here in a long time.

    Hope you all have been doing well. My life without mormonism has been a wonderful experience this whole past year. My wife and I have almost gotten to the point where we don’t even think about mormonism. The only time we do is when other mormons bump into us or text us.

    Anyhoo, I just wanted to chime in on missionary numbers. I used to believe the lie of “fasted growing” church until I served a mission in South America. The church lies cannot cover up the fact that I had HUGE volumes of inactive members in every single area I was in. Most wards had around 20 people in attendance. And they were still considered wards. Missionaries all over the world know this is true.

    Now that I am out, I can report that many other families are finding the truth about mormonism and they are just leaving. The CES Letter and the new “essays” that the church has released has only quickened the members exodus. I send the CES Letter to every mormon that asks me why I left.

    Funny side story, my father was on a road trip driving home on a Sunday and he called me to say hi. I asked him if he wanted to grab some dinner that night and catch up. Here is the conversation that ensued:

    me- “Lets go grab some food tonight”

    dad- “I can’t go eat tonight, its the Sabbath. Thats YOUR new religion”

    me- “Uh… you mean Christianity?”

    dad- “(laughing) this is why Christianity has no power or authority because they don’t follow the rules!”

    me – “Wow dad, that’s interesting. On your way home, gimme a ring when you gas up your car and fill up your big gulp at 711. I’ll call you later!”

    This is Mormonism personified. Lots of ridiculous rules that the members don’t even follow. They see how far they can bend the rules or how much they can edge around them, all while admonishing and chastising others for their “disobedience”.

  12. falcon says:

    Good to hear from you again. Your poor dad! He may get it at some point. His “your new religion” remark is priceless. He has to be a born and bred Mormon.
    The inactive numbers must give the GAs fits. But like I’ve said, the number of people who would be full-on temple Mormons is small. They tried to fix it by building the McTemples, smaller edifices but more of them, but that won’t work to up the numbers of inactives suddenly becoming active.

  13. Ironman1995 says:

    Hey Johnny , same here 3 years and it just gets better with each day .
    When you are a ward clerk or know someone in the Bishopric you learn when 130 show for sacrament and on the rolls is 600 , numbers don’t lie.

  14. falcon says:

    That’s like a tad over 20%. So how many of the 130 are into the temple program? The LDS church isn’t producing many gods, is it?

  15. cattyjane says:

    Just thought i would update everyone. It actually fits the topic of this blog. I received a visit from the branch president last week about my letter that I sent in to remove my membership. He was just “checking in” to make sure that is what I wanted to do. I felt like saying “well ya, thats why I sent the letter”, but I was nice. We sat down and talked about my reasons for leaving the church. I explained to him my investigation into the church priesthood authority, and the temple and how they do not fit scripture. He actually responded by saying “I don’t have answers for you on that”. I told him it was ok because I wasn’t trying to debate with him but explain why I had made my decision. He tried to tell me about his feelings and how he knew it was true. I told him that scripture states that there is a way that seems right to a man but the end is death Proverbs 14:12. He said that I should pray and Gd would reveal it in my heart that the church was true. I replied that the heart is deceitful above all things Jeremiah 17:9. I explained that the reason we were given scripture was so that we would not have to rely on our own understanding but the word of Gd. In the end he told me that he respected the research that I had done and for my actions in removing my name from the church. He said that most people do not put forth the effort that I did and they just stop coming to church. He said he was actually shocked when my letter came to him. He still pointed his finger at me before he left and said “your wrong”, but I just smiled.

    I know that during my visit Gd provided me with what to say. I wasn’t given any warning that he was coming to visit. He just showed up at my house. I didn’t have notes or my scriptures. But I had an answer for everything he said. I had a scripture brought to my mind for everything that he confronted me with. I had no fear or shame about anything I was saying. I was very much at peace and it felt freeing. The conversation wasn’t argumentative or tense at all.

    Im not saying this to boast about me or anything I have done. I am saying that I believe Gd brought to memory everything I had learned to be a witness for truth. I only hope that a seed was planted in his heart or the other mans heart that he had with him. I only wish that more people would take their leaving the church as an opportunity to be a witness. It honestly helped me to let go and a huge burden was lifted off me after I finished my conversation with them.

  16. fifth monarchy man says:


    I just wanted to say how proud I am of you and to apologize if I’ve been too hard on you in the past. I’m very impressed at your use of scripture in your meeting.

    That is exactly how it should be done !!!!!!

    I’m also impressed with your giving God the credit for your actions. That you see his hand at work shows maturity.

    Keep wrestling with the man/God and he will bless you!!!!! (Genesis 32)

    but test everything; hold fast what is good.
    (1Th 5:21)
    end quote:


  17. cattyjane says:

    Fifth Monarchy Man,
    I don’t think anyone here has been to hard on me. Everyone has certainly taken their shots at me but its just made me study more. I still have so much to learn and so much that I am struggling to understand, but I know that the Creator gives understanding in his perfect timing. I know he has a plan for all of this, so I am just trusting that he will show me the right way to go. I just have to keep my will out of the way and that is the toughest part.

  18. Pingback: General Conference April 2015 – Saturday Afternoon Session Review – by Jim Gourlay | Mormonism Investigated UK

  19. micmacmike says:

    I am an inactive Mormon and have been since 2005. I had a faith crisis about 1999. It began with a social falling out in a congregation I attended that lead to me being an object of gossip. I was angry and upset about being an object of gossip but it was a natural sequence of events after having a social falling out in a congregation I once attended. I did reactivate but by 2005 other life events happened that lead to inactivity. After being inactive I still believed but lived as I pleased and so I didn’t go back. I contemplated going back in 2014 but I couldn’t get past the Mormon Church’s stand on the expectation that gay and lesbian members had to be celibate if they so chose to be active members of the faith. It pains me to believe how I do and yet to not have a church to call home. Other option – create a Mormon movement that is similar to LDS mormonism but without the aspects of it that I find undesirable. I kind of fit between two types of Mormon cultures: Community of Christ mormonism – highly socially progressive (supportive of women holding priesthood and gay marriage) and LDS mormonism (saving ordinances in and outside the temple).

    If anyone is interested in a similar movement please email me: [email protected] . I would be most glad to hear from you.

Leave a Reply