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

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Church growth 2024

Someone told me that my friend Kirk Magleby made the following comment on his blog:


Church Growth 2023

One of my favorite parts of April General Conference is the release of the annual statistical report. At the end of 2022, Church membership stood at 17,002,461 and had grown by 1.17% year over year. At the end of 2023, Church membership stood at 17,255,391 and had grown by 1.49%. World population growth in 2023 was .88% so 2023 was the second year in a row where Church growth outpaced world growth.

Church Annual Growth Rate 1975-2023
Red Line is World Population Growth Rate

Church Annual Growth Rate 1975-2023

Red Line is World Population Growth Rate

The Church is on a 3-year strong growth track post COVID.


Most of the growth in the Church lately has been in Africa and the Philippines, as discussed here:

Congregational Growth by Country in 2023

Below is a list of the countries where the Church reported a net increase of four or more units for the year 2023. The annual percentage increase for the number of wards and branches for each country is also provided:

Nigeria +41 (5.33% increase)

Philippines +24 (1.89% increase)

Democratic Republic of the Congo +20 (7.43% increase)

Ghana +17 (4.82% increase)

Mexico +13 (0.70% increase)

Mozambique +13 (23.2% increase) 

Kenya +12 (21.1% increase)

Ecuador +10 (3.15% increase)

Zimbabwe +9 (9.89% increase) 

Liberia +8 (11.9% increase) 

Angola +6 (31.6% increase) 

Benin +6 (30.0% increase)

Cote d'Ivoire +5 (1.95% increase)

Peru +5 (0.64% increase)

Republic of the Congo +4 (12.5% increase) 

Sierra Leone +4 (4.44% increase) 

The net increase in the number of wards and branches in these 16 countries totals 197; a larger number than the net increase in the number of wards and branches for the entire Church for 2023 (160). Seven countries experienced a net decrease of four or more units during 2023. Altogether, the net decrease in congregations in these four nations totaled 64. 

United States -21 (0.14% decrease)  

Russia -12 (17.4% decrease)  

United Kingdom -10 (3.15% decrease) 

Hong Kong -9 (25.7% decrease)

Canada -4 (0.81% decrease)

Brazil -4 (0.18% decrease)

Australia -4 (1.29% decrease)

Previous lists for annual congregational growth by country are available for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020-2021, and 2022.

A few observations to make about congregational growth in 2023.

First, the rate at which the number of congregations increases continues to lag behind membership growth rates for the worldwide Church - a trend that has continued year over year since 1998. The average ward or branch now has 548 members, whereas the average ward or branch had 405 members in 1998. This metric suggests that the Church has continued to experience compounding problems with low member activity rates in countries that have the most Latter-day Saints on the Church records. Generally, equal percentage growth rates for the number of total congregations and Church membership suggest that member activity rates are stable. This metric is not a perfect barometer for member activity rates. For example, this statistic does not track the progress of branches growing sufficiently to become wards, as wards require significantly more active members to operate than a branch. Also, this metric may make a country look like it is having improving member activity rates if many new branches are organized in cities with few members. Like any missiology statistics, they should be examined with several others to get a more accurate assessment of the health of the Church and growth trends. 

Second, the United States has now had two years in a row when it ranked as the country with the largest net decrease in congregations for the entire world - a distinction never led by the Church in the United States prior to 2021. The Church in the United States reported a net increase of 105,774 members between year-end 2021 and year-end 2023, yet the Church reported a net decline of 83 congregations during this two-year period. This resulted in a net increase of 10 members for the average ward or branch during this time frame. Although this may appear alarming and suggest a decreasing rate of member activity and/or convert retention during this period, the Church reported a loss of seven members per average ward or branch between 2018 and 2021. Thus, the average number of members per ward or branch as of year-end 2023 (471) was not significantly different than what it was in 2018 (468). Furthermore, the net loss of congregations in the United States in 2023 (21) was nearly one-third the net loss of congregations in the United States in 2022 (62). In sum, there is no evidence from examining these statistics that the Church in the United States has experienced worsening member activity or convert retention rates within the past decade given the stability in the members-to-congregations ratio. Moreover, the number of stakes in the United States continues increase year over year. The Church reported 1,642 stakes in 2019, 1,658 stakes in 2020, 1,671 stakes in 2021, 1,681 stakes in 2022, and 1,693 stakes in 2023. 

Third, most new congregations created in the Church were in Africa in 2023. This has been a longstanding trend for much of the past decade. The Church in the Philippines continues to experience steady congregational growth rates comparable to membership growth rates. Congregational growth rates have accelerated in a few Latin American countries, such as Ecuador and Mexico. However, the Church reported a net decrease in the number of congregations in Brazil. Typically, the Church in Brazil reports net increases in the number of congregations year over year.