Declining Numbers

There was an article on Mormon Times about the declining baptism rate the Church is experiencing. The article can be found at: http://www.mormontimes.com/mormon_voices/mckay_coppins/?id=12892.  I thought it was odd to approach this subject in an article which maintains there is nothing unusual about a declining rate of baptisms. 

The prophecy of Daniel was that the stone cut out of the mountains without hands would roll forth, grind to dust the prior world orders, become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth. (Daniel 2: 34-35.)  Daniel’s interpretation included that God will establish a kingdom in the latter days which shall never be destroyed, nor left to other people.  It will break into pieces and consume all other kingdoms and stand forever.  (Id. verses 44-45.)
To the extent the Church claims to be this kingdom, or rock rolling forth, it should be expected to increase in size, and momentum, as it rolls forth to fill the earth. 
The Church ceased to distinguish between baptisms for “children of record” and “converts” some years ago.  Numbers are given in April General Conference.  Last April’s conference statistical report included this statement: “Converts Baptized: 265,593.”  There was a separate category for “Children of Record.” but there was no separate category for “Baptisms of Children of Record.”  That used to be a separate category.  Since it’s elimination, I have had the impression that “Converts Baptized” included all numbers, including baptisms of “Children of Record.”  If that is so, then for the last recorded numbers of baptisms you would need to go back to eight years earlier, take the number of Children of Record, and subtract that number from the “Converts Baptized number to get the actual number of Converts.  Eight years earlier from the number given in last General Conference, the statistical report announced that there was an increase of 81,450 Children of Record.  So the actual number of baptisms of Converts alone would be 184,143.  That appears to me to be the real number of Converts, exclusive of baptisms of Children of Record.
Now the Church hasn’t provided this separate number for Children of Record for about a decade now.  And I can’t be certain that the “Converts Baptized” category is actually an amalgamation of the two.  But I think it is.  If so, the decline from the time of President Kimball to today is more than significant, it is catastrophic.
I believe the only reason to convert to our faith is our doctrine.  Since the Church has de-emphasized doctrine, the trend of lowering missionary success has confirmed my belief in the necessity of teaching doctrine.  Not just in the Teach My Gospel program, but in every aspect of the Church, from Sunday School and Primary to Stake and General Conferences.  Doctrine is what distinguishes us.
Deseret Book has actually told me that “doctrine books do not sell.”  They are interested in fiction, which can be read in one or two settings. 

7 Responses to “Declining Numbers

  • Perhaps those of us who search for books on “Doctrine” would never do so from Deseret Books. That is a sad statement in and of itself.

  • Have you ever noticed that people get more interested in God when they have need for answers? I have to think our wealth has provided just too many distractions. People just are not interested in God. I don’t think it is just a Mormon problem either. Maybe our current world financial disorder may change things.

  • I am so dissapointed in the RS/Priesthood manual this yr. Where is the Doctirne or the meeat?
    Gospel Principles… the basics are what the Gospel Essentials S.S. class is for. I guess Gospel Doctrine class is the only place we will get doctrine… and that is only if the teacher is teaching with the spirit… even when I do my best to teach pure Doctrine… I have had my hands slapped more than once.

  • If you haven’t already, you should ready Prophecy — Key to the Future
    by Duane S. Crowther. He takes statements and prophecies from Church leaders along with scripture and puts in chronological order (as he sees it) how things will play out in the last days. He talks at length about what you mention a few times in your books about an “end to all nations.” It’s been a little while since I’ve read the book, but it may give some context to the declining baptisms in the Church. Meaning the world must be seriously humbled before people will be willing to listen to the Spirit and the missionaries.

  • I’ve never wasted a single meeting. Since I carry my scriptures, I find that I am able to get something out of them even if the teacher is not covering anything which holds my interest. (My presence in the class shows support for the teacher. And since no one can tell why I’m looking at my scriptures, it is not disruptive because people should presume I’m following the discussion or lesson.)

  • Denver,

    Along the lines of what you wrote in the original entry, do you feel that the Kingdom of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are synonymous terms which can (and are) used interchangeably?

    You touch on it by stating, “to the extent the Church claims to be the kingdom … ,” but no amount of claiming makes it so, unless it really is so.

    John Taylor, and others, have stated that the Kingdom of God is much bigger than the Church itself. The Church, as necessary as it is at this stage, is still only a temporary “institution” to use your term.

    Regardless of what John Taylor stated, I’d love to read your thoughts on the matter. If you’ve already written about it in one of your books, a simple reference would suffice.

    Thanks!

  • Tom,

    The statement of John Taylor’s was consistent with Joseph Smith’s establishment of the Council of 50. That council included non-Latter-day Saints. It was the beginning of the “Kingdom of God” as an institution. Both members and non-members are to be part of that Kingdom when it is established. But it will be an outgrowth of the Lord’s work through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to establish that kingdom. They are related, and will cooperate, but I’ve always understood them to be separate. We have one with us. We hope to see the other come.