‘Mormon Land’: Why the LDS Church is ‘underperforming’ and how to revive growth

Era of booming expansion is over, researcher says, but changes to the missionary program could enhance retention and lift the global faith.

(Illustration by Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Growth is essential to the mission of a missionary-minded faith like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In headier times, that expansion seemed to come rapidly and resoundingly, spurring optimistic predictions that the Utah-based religion could top 100 million members by 2020.

That didn’t happen, of course. In recent years, the global faith of 16.8 million has grown by less than 1% annually and, in fact, is shrinking in a number of regions. In the United States over the past two years, for instance, 21 states saw Latter-day Saint membership decline.

In the inaugural issue of the Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association, David Stewart, who has been studying Latter-day Saint growth trends for decades, explores why this era of expedited expansion may be at an end.

On this week’s show, the independent researcher discusses this slowdown and how the “underperforming” church could reverse it.

Listen here: