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 Post subject: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:13 am 
God

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Year-Missonaries-Converts
2007-52,686-279,218
2008-52,494-265,593
2009-51,736-280,106
2010-52,225-272,814
2011-55,401-281,312
2012-58,990-272,330
2013-83,035-282,945
2014-85,147-296,803
2015-74,079-257,402
2016-70,946-240,131
2017-67,049-233,729

The total number of convert baptisms seem to bear no relationship to the number of missionaries deployed. That’s like Sales bearing no relationship to the number of sales people employed.

And the number of converts take a nose dive from 2015 onwards.
- CES letter?
- Younger missionaries?
Anything else significant happen 2014/2015 that could negatively impact the number of converts?

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:32 am 
God
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I don’t think one can evaluate the extent of correlation by eyeballing the figures — one has to do the proper statistical analysis. Baptisms appear to have increased during the surge and decreased afterward. But another significant variable is where the missionaries are deployed. Simon has presented evidence that certain markets for Mormonism are saturated. Increasing the sales force won’t do much in those markets.

We’d also have to look at changes in how the missionaries went about their work over time. Did they substitute online contact for personal contact, etc.

Finally, we’d need to look at the experience if other proselyting sects to figure out whether we’re looking at a general trend with respect to religion or something peculiar to Mormonism.

I don’t think we have nearly enough data to point to something like the CES letter as the cause.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:23 am 
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I'd suggest that most converts are actually member referals rather than people who the missionaries find through their own efforts. When looked at that way, perhaps what's going on is the members are getting burned out on member-missionary work, their social networks are exhausting fresh prospects, and in general wanting to become like your Mormon neighbor is becoming less appealing. The size of the missionary force has little to do with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:05 pm 
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If total converts dips below 200k in 2020 or so, that will probably ruffle a few feathers.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:11 pm 
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Analytics wrote:
I'd suggest that most converts are actually member referals rather than people who the missionaries find through their own efforts. When looked at that way, perhaps what's going on is the members are getting burned out on member-missionary work, their social networks are exhausting fresh prospects, and in general wanting to become like your Mormon neighbor is becoming less appealing. The size of the missionary force has little to do with it.


That may depend upon the given area and the level of saturation that proselyting efforts has reached in the existing population.


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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:17 pm 
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I agree we need more context to fully understand these numbers, but the church generated 280K converts with only 51K missionaries in 2009. In 2017 they only generated 233K converts with 67K missionaries. I'm not sure how you can spin those numbers in a way that doesn't cause the brethren to soil their depends a little bit.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:38 pm 
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I’m guessing that Convert Baptisms By Country is a scared statistic...

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:25 pm 
God
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I’m on my iPad so don’t have exact numbers, but converts in USA have dropped 50% from over 100,000 in USA to less than 50,000 since 2010. Converts in 1st world countries is stagnant or collapsing while converts in 3rd world countries is where all the growth is. Even convert numbers in generally convert consistent 2nd world aka Brazil , Mexico countries is nose diving. Were it not for Africa, the church would be in significant decline.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:02 pm 
God

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Analytics wrote:
I'd suggest that most converts are actually member referals rather than people who the missionaries find through their own efforts. When looked at that way, perhaps what's going on is the members are getting burned out on member-missionary work, their social networks are exhausting fresh prospects, and in general wanting to become like your Mormon neighbor is becoming less appealing. The size of the missionary force has little to do with it.


Don't know about today, but in my mission a large majority of converts came directly from the missionaries. This was in the US. Places like South America probably have even more converts coming directly from full time missionaries. I have seen the numbers over the decades and it looks like there is a relationship between the two.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:03 am 
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The last couple of years could just have been a run of bad luck within the same pattern of fluctuations that seems to have been steady for many years before that. But the drop has been bigger than before, and has gone on for a year or so longer than before. I wouldn't want to bet the farm, but I'd bet a few beers that we actually are seeing a break in the long-term trend, now.

The surge in missionary numbers in 2013-14 must have been disappointing. They boosted missionaries by well over a third, and topped out at maybe a 10% rise in converts from what they'd been doing for years before. Now indeed there are fewer converts despite more missionaries. Perhaps something has really changed.


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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:55 am 
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Physics Guy wrote:
The last couple of years could just have been a run of bad luck within the same pattern of fluctuations that seems to have been steady for many years before that. But the drop has been bigger than before, and has gone on for a year or so longer than before. I wouldn't want to bet the farm, but I'd bet a few beers that we actually are seeing a break in the long-term trend, now.

The surge in missionary numbers in 2013-14 must have been disappointing. They boosted missionaries by well over a third, and topped out at maybe a 10% rise in converts from what they'd been doing for years before. Now indeed there are fewer converts despite more missionaries. Perhaps something has really changed.


While there is a relationship between the two, the numbers also show the number of converts per missionary have had a slow decline.
Quote:
https://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php/2016/04/converts-per-missionary/


One problem with the spike in numbers of missionaries is I don't think they were put into areas they would be more effective, so factors like saturation could be in play.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:59 am 
God

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Physics Guy wrote:
Perhaps something has really changed.


One factor I think is playing out is that every potential convert has information at their fingertips people didn't have before the internet

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:58 am 
God
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Craig Paxton wrote:
I’m on my iPad so don’t have exact numbers, but converts in USA have dropped 50% from over 100,000 in USA to less than 50,000 since 2010. Converts in 1st world countries is stagnant or collapsing while converts in 3rd world countries is where all the growth is. Even convert numbers in generally convert consistent 2nd world aka Brazil , Mexico countries is nose diving. Were it not for Africa, the church would be in significant decline.


This is their biggest problem. The income potential of third World converts is minimal compared to the income realized from one first World family. The income loss of a single Utah TBM family is more than the income generated from 100 000 third World devoted TBMs.

You can only rob the income from the Dick and Jane family for so long to pay for the Abayomi and Ababuo family until all the funds run out. And in the end all you have is Enron income.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:27 pm 
God
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Themis wrote:
Analytics wrote:
I'd suggest that most converts are actually member referals rather than people who the missionaries find through their own efforts. When looked at that way, perhaps what's going on is the members are getting burned out on member-missionary work, their social networks are exhausting fresh prospects, and in general wanting to become like your Mormon neighbor is becoming less appealing. The size of the missionary force has little to do with it.


Don't know about today, but in my mission a large majority of converts came directly from the missionaries. This was in the US. Places like South America probably have even more converts coming directly from full time missionaries. I have seen the numbers over the decades and it looks like there is a relationship between the two.

Perhaps that is more likely. Stark really liked the idea that member referrals were the real driver. This was at least partially driven by his desire to prove that early Christianity grew exponentially along social networks. Stark talked about talking to a mission president who said that Elders needed to knock on 1,000 doors to get a baptism, while 1 in 10 member referals took a dunk.

If those stats were ever true, how have they changed?

Thinking about my missionary experience in Argentina, most were cold calls also. But most of those quickly went inactive. It still seems to me that few people convert to the religion itself--most either convert to the missionaries who they originally met and bonded with, or convert to a friend in the church or to a family that they look up to and want to emulate.

In any case, I think it is extremely rare for somebody to examine the evidence and conclude, "Wow! There were Nephites and God and Jesus are two physical personages and an angel appeared to Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdry, and John Whitmer! There is no other explanation!" Rather, people are either searching for a tribe or become good friends with missionaries or fall in love with a Mormon girl. Conversion is about social networks, not an unadulterated search for the truth.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:06 pm 
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Analytics wrote:
It still seems to me that few people convert to the religion itself--most either convert to the missionaries who they originally met and bonded with, or convert to a friend in the church or to a family that they look up to and want to emulate.

In any case, I think it is extremely rare for somebody to examine the evidence and conclude, "Wow! There were Nephites and God and Jesus are two physical personages and an angel appeared to Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdry, and John Whitmer! There is no other explanation!" Rather, people are either searching for a tribe or become good friends with missionaries or fall in love with a Mormon girl. Conversion is about social networks, not an unadulterated search for the truth.


This is also a conclusion suggested by the fact that LDS membership growth has been linear over a period in which the world population has gone up by half. If there were an objective case for converting to Mormonism, independent of relationships to particular Mormons, then it's hard to see how the numbers of Mormon converts could have failed to track world population growth, at least somewhat.


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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:05 pm 
God

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Themis wrote:
While there is a relationship between the two, the numbers also show the number of converts per missionary have had a slow decline.
Quote:
https://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php/2016/04/converts-per-missionary/


One problem with the spike in numbers of missionaries is I don't think they were put into areas they would be more effective, so factors like saturation could be in play.
I agree that over-saturation could have been a significant reason for the surge in missionaries to not have much impact on the convert numbers. iirc, the surge in missionary numbers put considerable pressure on visa processes and resulted in a lot more last-minute stateside missionaries than the areas could absorb.


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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:31 pm 
God
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The dotards at the COB need to be figuring out how to retain the missionaries, because converts generally don't stay in the Church, anyway. I can't believe they haven't realized service missions are their best bet to rehabilitate their image, give Millennials a sense of purpose, and retain membership.

- Doc


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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:30 am 
God

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Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
The dotards at the COB need to be figuring out how to retain the missionaries, because converts generally don't stay in the Church, anyway. I can't believe they haven't realized service missions are their best bet to rehabilitate their image, give Millennials a sense of purpose, and retain membership.

- Doc


Some time ago the Church decided to forget the over 30’s and go all-in trying to retain the youth.
- reducing the age of missionary service - didn’t work
- giving missionaries iPads - didn’t work
- the essays - didn’t work
- instructing the youth to use social media to flood the earth - didn’t work

What might work?
- stopping the discrimination of gays
- embracing fully female equality
- apologising for historic racism and flagrant homophobia
- employing leaders that are under 40

But God doesn’t like gays, doesn’t want women in positions of real authority, never apologises and likes really old guys to run the show.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:43 pm 
God
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Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
What might work?
- stopping the discrimination of gays
- embracing fully female equality
- apologising for historic racism and flagrant homophobia


This might work for the young people, but you would lose everyone else. Step into pretty much any ward, especially on the Wasatch Front, and it becomes clear that discrimination against gays, worshipping really old men, and ignoring uncomfortable history are 3 things that almost every member over the age of 21 enjoys most about the church.

Quote:
- employing leaders that are under 40


This is a great idea, but not possible when the big 15 serve until they die.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:48 pm 
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Gadianton had some interesting comments on the relative stability of convert baptisms in a related thread; I hope he doesn't mind if I quote him here:
Gadianton wrote:
I can explain the linear growth without knowing anything about statistics.

As a missionary, every week you call in stats to your DLs; DLs to ZLs, and all the way up. There's a certain sweet spot for how many Book of Mormon's you've given out, first discussions, total discussions, and so on. No one wants to draw attention by reporting a zero or very low number. If the "meh" number is 5 Book of Mormon's a week, then missionaries report 5 and that could be an outright fabrication, but it's most likely a well-rationalized number. Enough key points brought up at a door one week could count as a first discussion, or a zero could be a 5 with good intentions to make up for it the next week. And this works at every level. If the greenie comp report 1 discussion, the DL's might up that to three to keep the heat off.

You could physically count book of Mormons going out and audit these numbers, but at what expense and for what? I assume the mission president reports to Salt Lake City the same way the ZLs report to him. Now, baptisms in a European mission obviously can't be fudged; that hovers around zero. But in missions where there are baptisms, I'll bet the numbers are reported the same way that Book of Mormon's going out are reported, and lists of names and permits aren't physically tallied and what gets reported is the "meh" number unless occasionally, there's a miracle and that number is beaten.

Since there is no growth, only decline, at a mission level, the next round of stats on average looks like the previous, which looks like the previous. This is the "deniability" number, that keeps everyone from getting chewed out and doesn't raise suspicion. It won't be 5 - 5 - 5 - 5 -5, but 4 - 6 - 5 -5 - 4. I'm sure membership stats are summarized the same way from bishops.

I'd put a least and Andrew Jackson on this theory.

This is a compelling explanation for the pattern of the numbers, especially since it looks to be based on missions, and not necessarily related to the temporary surge in missionaries.

If the reported convert numbers come from the up-the-line reporting described by Gadianton, and not necessarily based on the paperwork received at HQ, then the artificial pattern makes much more sense. Is it possible that church HQ turns a blind eye to the inherent problems in converts like this, and just uses that number because it looks better than anything else?

It would explain why in a couple of the years, the reported total membership actually went up by more than convert baptisms and bic births (which would require deaths and name removals to be negative); the artificial missionary count could have (rarely) under-reported baptisms.


Last edited by Lemmie on Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert numbers heading south after 2014...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:23 pm 
God
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I’m not sure that faking convert baptism figures is as easy as faking Books of Mormon being distributed.

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