Growth of the Church in 100 years

What is the future growth of the Church? We get many scriptural paintings of it: the stone cut out of the mountain, the leaven in the lump, the people of God are small compared to the world, etc., etc. The Stark predictions of hundreds of millions in this century are not panning out, and as Richard Bushman noted in Blair Hodges recent podcast, perhaps Mormons will always remain a very small fraction of world population.

In our missionary approach we have usually morphed our message to those parts of the restoration that seem to have the greatest societal relevance. “Families forever,” “a new prophet,” “a new revelation,” “Zion,” “Divine Priesthood,” and so on, as it seems to fit the cultural need or hope. Are we coming to a period where it will be difficult to find a meaningful section of the Restored Gospel, a lead in, that will find that initial comfort of home for an ever larger segment of potential converts, or is the pool of potential joiners, shrinking? (The pool of missionaries and their effectiveness may be.) Do these challenges extend to Christianity in general? If yes, or no, what does that mean for Mormons?

The ideas are relevant to some of Joseph Smith’s last sermons and we’ve very briefly remarked on it before. I’d like to know what you think.

2 Responses to Growth of the Church in 100 years

  1. J. Stapley says:

    I was recently speaking to the mother of a missionary serving in a city where everyone works 18 hour days, seven days a week. Converts typically can’t attend church because of work conditions. I thought immediately of the working conditions in England in the mid nineteenth century. Except then, we offered a Zion–a place where these people could escape their lives. Then I thought how much conversion we might see if we had something like that to offer today.

    • WVS says:

      I’ve got one child in Brazil. I think we might see a boom in conversion there in the next 20 years. It’s all about the economy. Right now, you almost have to baptize people in the sweet spot (walking distance of a chapel) to have hope of lasting activity. Then when they move we may lose them. I hear from insiders on the ground that they are running about 8% retention in southern Brazil.

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