Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

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Everybody Wang Chung
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Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by Everybody Wang Chung »

The Trib is revisiting a 1996 essay by Lowell Bennion and Lawrence Young that predicted by 2020, the Church's membership would be 35 million (on the low end) and 121 million (on the high end).

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/04 ... rmon-land/


For those of you who don't have a paid SLTRIB account, here is the article:
By David Noyce

Published: 5 hours ago
Updated: 5 hours ago
The Mormon Land newsletter is a weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether heralded in headlines, preached from the pulpit or buzzed about on the back benches. Want this free newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe here.

100 million members?

A quarter century ago, projections predicted 2020 church membership would be anywhere from 13 million to 35 million to well above 100 million.

OK, so some of those forecasts turned out to be wildly off. After all, the church put its official count, as of the end of 2019, at 16,565,036. But some prescient points still emerged.

A 1996 essay by Lowell Bennion and Lawrence Young for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought said that at least one apostle would be from Latin America (think Ulisses Soares), Europe (see Dieter F. Uchtdorf) or Asia (Gerrit W. Gong is Asian American).

Retired Brigham Young University professor Wilfried Decoo examined several of these earlier estimates in a recent Times and Seasons blog post.

A lot of factors play into church growth, Decoo noted, from societal attitudes, missionary effectiveness and public relations to birthrates, member retention and political openness, along with a host of other influences.

Decoo said Bennion and Young acknowledged that their prediction (of 35 million to 121 million members) “may well prove wrong.”

It was.

“The only opinion we can express with confidence,” they added, “is that the next quarter century will bring the church as many changes and surprises as the past one has.”



This week’s podcast: What membership stats tell us
Speaking of Matt Martinich, the church growth guru was our guest this week and provided a deeper look at the latest membership numbers.

Listen here.

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Philo Sofee
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Re: Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by Philo Sofee »

All we can say (even possessing the gift of prophecy) is that there are gonna be a lot of changes in the next 25 years..........der....... hell I can prophecy in the name of any God you care to choose that this will happen, so flippin what?

lemuel
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Re: Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by lemuel »

Exponential growth can't last forever

Image

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SuperDell
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Re: Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by SuperDell »

The article was not translated Correctly.
What was really said was that L-d$,inc would have at least $100 BILLION in a fund for a party when Jesus comes to Missouri.

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Philo Sofee
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Re: Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by Philo Sofee »

SuperDell wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 6:23 pm
The article was not translated Correctly.
What was really said was that L-d$,inc would have at least $100 BILLION in a fund for a party when Jesus comes to Missouri.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

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Shulem
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Re: Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by Shulem »

Philo Sofee wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 6:25 pm
SuperDell wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 6:23 pm
The article was not translated Correctly.
What was really said was that L-d$,inc would have at least $100 BILLION in a fund for a party when Jesus comes to Missouri.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Seriously though, there were nearly 10 million members of the Church at that time and to predict that there would be 10x that many in just 25 years seems pretty amazing but not entirely impossible considering that the church is proselyting in practically every country looking for poor members -- anyone who will join so long as they promise to not smoke or drink coffee until at least they are baptized.

But growing sacred tithing funds into a whopping 120 BILLION seems even more incredible. It's a Mormon miracle, I'd say. BUT, with that said, the more money the Mormon Church has means the MORE money others will want to take away from it. The Church has become a Money-Target!

The more money you have means the more enemies you will have to deal with in trying to hold on to it.

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Physics Guy
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Re: Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by Physics Guy »

Between 1990 and 1995 the church went from about 8 million to about 9.5 million members, so if you had assumed steady exponential growth at that rate for the next 25 years you'd have estimated 9.5*(9.5/8)^5 which is about 22.4 million Mormons now. As it turned out that would have been quite a bit too optimistic, and I certainly can't imagine how anyone was much more optimistic than that. I can't see any reason to have supposed any significantly higher exponential growth rate than what the church had been doing for the previous several years.

In fact if one had looked more closely even then, the basic assumption of exponential growth at any fixed rate should have looked doubtful. At that point Mormon numbers had already been growing only linearly for several years. Sure, there were good reasons a priori to expect a self-reinforcing feedback of more Mormons making more new Mormons each year. That kind of self-accelerating growth just hadn't been showing up in the actual numbers for a long time, however.

If instead you had assumed steady linear growth after 1995 on the same linear trajectory that the church had been following from 1990, you'd have guessed 9.5 + (9.5-8)*5 = 17 million Mormons now. Even that's a little high, but it's not too bad. Mormon growth really has been linear for most of the past thirty years, with some further falling off in the past few years.

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Kishkumen
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Re: Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by Kishkumen »

1996 you say? Remember the Internet in 1996? And how many older people were not really that aware of it?

My how things have changed!

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moksha
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Re: Church Was Supposed to Have 100 Million Mormons in 2020. What Happened?

Post by moksha »

Kishkumen wrote:
Tue May 05, 2020 12:38 pm
1996 you say? Remember the Internet in 1996?
Things were certainly different when modems topped out at 33.6Kbps. Netscape Navigator was the top browser. Most people used America Online as their ISP. Hotmail.com launched in July of 1996. Scrupulous Mormons would have avoided the mere appearance of S e N.

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