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A Lesson from Mormon Missionaries

Mormon Row -- a collection of historic Mormon homes, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, US Photo: Hans Watson/Flickr

Mormon Row, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, US Photo: Hans Watson/Flickr

While we were busy, the world moved.

Religion as we knew it is passing away. One example of this shift is the LDS Mormon experience with missionaries.

A recent article from Salt Lake City stated that Mormons have increased the number of young missionaries, but the number of new converts has not increased much. 44% more missionaries, have only produced 4% more converts.

In corporate thinking, that is a failed return on investment.

The unknown statistic is how many members are dropping out. It is possible that the LDS church is shrinking, as it loses more than it gains. There are large organizations for ExMos, ex Mormons who work aggressively to convince others to leave, and drop out rates are high.

I believe the same trends are true for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I have no reliable statistics. I was once invited to a covert meeting of JW drop outs, conducted like a typical twelve step program. I am sure that many evangelical groups are shrinking in the same way. Drop-outs outnumber new converts, for many churches. And, the violence and turmoil in Islam and the Middle East probably includes the same internal stress.

The world was a very stable place when I was young, but the Internet has changed everything. It was possible to live in a small town and to only mix with members of the same religion. I knew many church goers and Bible College students, who never experienced a challenge their beliefs. Christians could live in the Bible Belt, Mormons in Utah, Muslims in the Middle East, Communists behind the iron curtain. People were isolated and belief was controlled much more than today.

It was easy to believe then, but now all traditions are ridiculed; and every young person wants free access to the Internet.

Recently, Mormons engaged in “The Swedish Rescue” to stop the loss of educated young members in Sweden.

The BBC in Britain has published video interviews of ex-Muslims.

Today, all belief is challenged, and the voices are persistent. Educated young people hear these opinions because they learn English and use the Internet.

People have not stopped believing, but traditional communities are under stress everywhere.

In the Bible God promised “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” (Hebrews 26:7)

Jesus, “meek and mild” said:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Matthew 10:34 & 35).

It was easy to ignore those words fifty years ago.


  1. RickRod says

    As an exevangelical, I believe that you’re article is right on the money. There seems to have been a peak in the evangelical movement somewhere in the late 80’s or early 90’s. All faiths whether liberal or more demanding like evangelicals, mormons and jw’s began a decline,


    • smcintos says

      Thanks for that. What didn’t decline was God, but numbers of committed Christians and in Africa and Asia.


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