The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Friday, December 16, 2022

Article: The End of Growth? Fading Prospects for Latter-day Saint Expansion

This is an important article about current issues. It primarily focuses on macro issues. I think the author overlooked the impact on conversion and retention rates presented by historical and doctrinal issues (including M2C and SITH), but he provides an insightful analysis along with specific recommendations.

The End of Growth? Fading Prospects for Latter-day Saint Expansion

David G. Stewart, Jr., University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Abstract. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faces diminished prospects for growth in the twenty-first century due to both institutional and societal factors. Growth rates in congregations and active membership averaged below one percent annually from 2009–2019.

Fertility, retention of member children, and new conversions have experienced ongoing declines. Institutional decisions that were once adaptive have become liabilities hindering growth and internationalization. The dichotomy between the Mormon “homeland” and the “mission field” has fueled asymmetric information, misaligned incentives, principal-agent problems, and a culture of nonparticipation in personal evangelism by leaders and members. Reforms have sent mixed messages without resolving underlying pathologies.

Societal conditions are decidedly less favorable for LDS growth than in the late twentieth century. The human rights situation has deteriorated worldwide, Christianity is experiencing proportional decline in most world regions, and prospects for mission outreach in unreached nations are dim.

Medium-term growth in active LDS membership and congregations is likely to average below one percent annually. Over longer periods, losses may occur. The faith experiences its brightest prospects in Africa, where it is likely to achieve active growth. The LDS Church has lost its competitive advantages and is likely to continue to underperform its major competitors.

Stewart, David G. 2022. “The End of Growth? Fading Prospects for Latter-day Saint Expansion,”  Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association  1, no. 1: 21–71. 

pdf download:

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Twitter wisdom

I have a blog that features highlights from Twitter.

Here are some recent good ones relevant to the topics I discuss on this and my other blogs. I made brief comments on some of the ones below.


Do you actually need more information or do you simply need to act on the information you already have?

Everyone interested in Book of Mormon historicity/geography should act on the information we have, specifically the New York Cumorah, before seeking more information. The teachings of the prophets should be the foundation of the analysis, not an obstacle to be repudiated and ridiculed. Overlooking and rejecting what the prophets have taught has led certain LDS intellectuals into the thickets of their own speculation and confirmation bias.

If an idea is true, criticism will not destroy it, but strengthen it.

M2Cers and SITHsayers are highly defensive about their theories, to the point that they don't want to discuss the teachings of the prophets in Church history and they don't allow fair comparison charts with alternative faithful interpretations. 

James Clear
Not taking things personally is a superpower.

The most prominent LDS intellectuals who promote M2C and SITH, as well as their followers and financial supporters, take everything personally, which blinds them to alternatives and prevents them from understanding why other faithful Latter-day Saints reject their theories.

A simple strategy that will save you so many headaches: don't care about winning trivial arguments. Someone says something you don't agree with? Smile, nod, and move on to more important things. Life is short. Not caring about having the last word will save you so much time.

People follow incentives, not advice.

Remove the branches of a thorn bush today and you'll avoid a scrape this year. But next year, you'll face the same problem again. Remove the root of the bush today, and the entire plant will die. Are you solving problems at the branch level or the root level?

When researching strategies, emphasize patterns over stories. One person succeeding means nothing. 100 people succeeding is a signal. When explaining strategies, emphasize stories over patterns. People forget numbers and charts. Everyone remembers a great story.

What parts of your story no longer serve you? What stories are you attached to that you need to let go of?

The ultimate form of preparation is not planning for a specific scenario, but a mindset that can handle uncertainty.

James Clear
Be “selectively ignorant.” Ignore topics that drain your attention. Unfollow people that drain your energy. Abandon projects that drain your time. Do not keep up with it all. The more selectively ignorant you become, the more broadly knowledgable you can be.

If you look for a reason to hate a person, eventually you'll find it. If you look for a reason to celebrate a person, eventually you'll find it. The former leads to resentment and destructive cynicism. The latter leads to happiness and growth for you and for those you celebrate.

Imagine how much harder physics would be if electrons had emotions.

It's not about "educated" v "un-educated." It's about "likes to read" and "doesn't like to read."

No nation ever protested its way from poverty to prosperity or got there through rhetoric or bureaucracies.

Never regret a day in your life; good days give happiness, bad days give experiences, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories.