LDS Church membership officially surpasses 16 million

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  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    April 3, 2018 10:37 a.m.

    Re: "I am not looking to split hairs here. How about this. Is the number of members who attend at least a few times a year more or less than 10 million?"

    You're splitting hairs.

    Do you count my buddy who hasn't attended Mass in way more than 20 years, but still sends his grandkids to Catholic School, insisting both he and they are Catholic? How about the Indonesian villager who lives in an area not served by a Masjid, but who prays 5 times daily and observes all the other Pillars of Islam -- is he counted as Islamic? Or my father-in-law who was never baptized and only attended on a few occasions when his kids invited him to a special service, but who identified himself as LDS and defended Mormonism all his married life?

    And, then, there's J. Reuben Clarke -- he was unable to attend Church for several years while serving as a diplomat in areas in which the Church was not established. At the end of that period, he was called to be Counselor in the First Presidency. Is he counted?

    As many wavering, travelling, ailing, incarcerated, and even unbaptized Mormons will attest -- being a Mormon is in your mind, not on an attendance roster.

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    April 2, 2018 8:33 p.m.

    The work of the Lord (and His church) is moving forward, and no power on earth can prevent that. The only choice any of us has is whether or not we will be a part of it. Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable in opposing it. As one prophet once said "As for me and my house, we will choose the Lord" (or words to that affect). I feel the same. You can choose to tear down the work of the Lord, but not me. Incidentally, when you read in 1st Nephi, in the Book of Mormon about the tree of life, the iron rod, the mist of darkness, and the great and spacious building, and its inhabitants in the attitude of mocking those who are on the path, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where each of us fits, does it?

  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    April 2, 2018 3:52 p.m.

    No, "active members with a temple recommend" is certainly not the only metric worth worrying about or the most important number. In fact "numbers" as an abstract shouldn't be important to Church members at all, and that's why they weren't spoken over the pulpit in this conference. The Church's overall membership count is, at least for the vast majority of us, merely a bit of useless trivia.

    What should be important to us is "who do I know who can be helped?" and "What does God want me to do to help them?"

  • Bountiful Guy Bountiful, UT
    April 2, 2018 11:53 a.m.


    Before conference, your big beef was that there is never any revelation. You've gone quiet since you were obviously in error on that point. Any representation that you have any sincere desire for knowledge is easily scoffed at. It's amazing that your life is filled more with news surrounding the LDS Church than anything else. Your bitterness reflects your heart. We all hope for healing in your life. Why not pursue joy?

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 2, 2018 11:52 a.m.

    There has been quite the strawman put forth.

    The notion as to whether or not to count someone who misses a couple weeks of church attendance is not at all the issue.

    But, for someone who has not had any activity in the church in 20 years, they should clearly not be counted as a church member. How about 1 year? Or 5 years? One can make a case either way. And the issue of temple recommend is not at issue either.

    I am not looking to split hairs here.

    How about this. Is the number of members who attend at least a few times a year more or less than 10 million?

    fair enough?

  • Bountiful Guy Bountiful, UT
    April 2, 2018 11:46 a.m.


    You say you haven't attended and don't believe or sustain. Yet you refuse to have your name removed from records of the church. Too allow yourself to be counted could be interpreted as fraud on your part. Please consider ending the fraud, respectfully.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    April 2, 2018 11:34 a.m.

    The Church's ability to gain new converts is in danger due to sub-replacement birth rates over the past 25 to 30 years for the Church worldwide. Also, since 18-year old young men & 19-year old young women now can serve LDS proselyting missions, their effectiveness has dropped overall 1 to 1.5 converts per missionary from what it was before.

    These two factors are translating into ever fewer converts, which is now the Church's only source of growth.

    1982 seems to have been a peak year for Church growth. Current birth rates in the Church are a staggeringly low 20% of what they were in 1982!

    If birthrates for the Church as a whole were what they were then, New Children of Record in 2017 would have gone well over 1/2 million, exactly 5 X the current rate!

    Also, lower baptism rates per missionary might also partially be a function of an aging worldwide population. Younger people might be more willing to change their religion than older people.

    It appears that 2/3's or more of all nations in the world have sub-replacement birth rates. Less youth may mean ever more people are stuck in their ways, and may be becoming ever less willing to change.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    April 2, 2018 10:29 a.m.

    @Traveller If the leadership is interested in quality, not quantity, why did they release a number so far off from active members with a temple recommend. Isn't that really the true metric?

  • london_josh lincoln, CA
    April 2, 2018 10:14 a.m.

    This whole thing on numbers is silly.

    It's over 16 million, that's what it is and it's "membership" rather than activity.

    If you rank churches based on activity, at least in the US only the JWs outrank LDS members and the are only slightly more active, most religions have a fraction of the activity that we have in the LDS church.

    Does it matter? Not really.

    It makes us feel good about ourselves being that it's not 1830 anymore and there are more than 6 of us, but salvation and the church are individual things, so should it matter what the number is?

    As for those arguments against the numbers, they are trying to invalidate the feeling of support, but should that matter to anybody? They have lost their battle already, no matter what the number is it's growing and while the growth shifts sometimes it's still growing.

    So does it matter what the membership is? For me it matters only how I take advantage of my personal membership which is a small part of my very important relationship with my Savior.

    I don't care that others don't want the numbers to be real, aside from a "that's cool" perspective I don't see what the fuss is about.

  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    April 2, 2018 9:35 a.m.

    Looking through these comments provides the explanation for why the First Presidency decided to discontinue speaking these numbers over the pulpit in conference, and to publish them separately instead. Numbers are apparently a point of contention among members and non-members.

    President Nelson has shown that it's quality he's interested in, not quantity. That's why Home Teaching went away - so we wouldn't be as obsessed with checking the box of "I got all my visits in before the end of the month" and getting 100% completion. Instead we're going to a personal, "what did you do to help members x, y, or z?" one-on-one approach.

    I for one applaud a de-emphasis in statistics and the turn towards the more personalized approach. We shouldn't take pride in exceeding a vague "big number" of members - we should be thinking about what we're doing to help those in our tiny corner of the kingdom instead.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    April 2, 2018 8:42 a.m.

    "I am trying to understand if the LDS church is growing or shrinking."

    Perhaps the percentage growth of wards or stakes would be more useful than the percentage change of membership at ascertaining that if you're trying to filter out the inactive.

    "the church loses too many of its youth and converts, but retains more of them than any other church/religion."

    If you can't quantify activity like you say in the first sentence you also can't make that last claim there.

  • Den Den West Jordan, UT
    April 2, 2018 8:39 a.m.

    It's really depressing reading most of these comments.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    April 2, 2018 12:59 a.m.

    I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade. But not talking about either activity rates, or people who have or are leaving the Church. But looking rather at an issue that is currently plaguing a majority of nations around the world. That issue is sub-replacement birth rates.

    Some years back, I took statistics someone else had put up on the internet about this, and then both expanded on it and continued it.

    Yes, the LDS Church continues to grow. But, it does so only because of converts & even their #s & the #'s of missionaries serving are doing that Book of Mormon thing....they're dwindling!

    I have statistics that go back to 1974. If the Church was growing at the same rate as it was in 1982, when our oldest daughter was born, New Children of Record for 2017 would be 534,447, fully 5 X the current rate. Then, instead of taking 4 years to go over 16 million, it would take less than 2 years to do so! Even if Convert Baptisms weren't increased, gross increase would be 768,176 in 1 year; & net increase 663,428! We're hurting for babies. As Jesus did, we need to "...suffer little children (i.e., babies) to come unto (us)! Delayed marrying & childbearing gives us low & too few babies!

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    April 1, 2018 11:49 p.m.

    Gotta call you on "all the ugliness of JS's polygamy." Exactly what ugliness are you actually referring to? Were you there to witness something ugly? I hope you are not calling me and all my relatives "ugly." In honest truth there are witnesses on record who have called their friend and Prophet Joseph a man of impeccable character. Your sources have little basis in fact, and my sources are virtually impeccable. Brigham Young for 12 years associated very closely with The Prophet Joseph as did Lorenzo Snow. Add John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff you have four very close associates of Joseph Smith who have given him stellar character references. His qualities bordered on the most Christlike qualities known to man! And their testimonies are available in print for all to read.

  • london_josh lincoln, CA
    April 1, 2018 9:58 p.m.

    Not all Mormons attend church each week, for various reasons, and non-Mormons attend church each week also for various reasons.

    For the number of Mormons, they look at those who are technically Mormons - I know that's blowing some of your minds but that's how it works.

    43% of Americans don't vote, yet they are still Americans.

    Do keep in mind that 83% of Mormons say that religion is very important to them, clearly not all of them attend church on a regular basis, activity rates are nowhere near 83%, however in my area we're over 60% and while I understand that many areas outside of the US have lower activity rates, I don't think it's as high as the super optimistic members claim nor remotely close to the ones trying to say that there aren't a lot of Mormons.

    I've been in many situations in which somebody who isn't an active Mormon shows deep respect and identifies with the LDS faith when pushed, but doesn't want to come to church for personal reasons.

    the church didn't claim 16 million in seats each Sunday, it stated statistical fact, 16 million members.

  • BioPowertrain Detroit, MI
    April 1, 2018 7:39 p.m.

    It's pretty much impossible to quantify activity vs non-activity. There are too many variables and arbitrary criteria. I'm satisfied with what President Hinckley said a decade or two ago, the church loses too many of its youth and converts, but retains more of them than any other church/religion.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 1, 2018 4:24 p.m.

    "Anyone who's sat in a ward council is aware of the gap between total membership and active members"

    Certainly people realize that. But, what I was wondering when I started this thread, is what is that number.

    What is the gap between those on the membership roles and those who are no longer involved with the LDS church?

    I, admittedly do not know. But, of the 16 mill, are there 20% inactive? 30%? 60%?

    That was all I was wondering. Does anyone have supportable numbers or is everyone just speculating (on both sides of the issue)?

  • buddy10mm South Jordan, UT
    April 1, 2018 3:38 p.m.

    Ah, geoform... geoform...
    Your first line in your most recent post? Notable. Following that? Well...
    It's a series of inaccuracies, misconstrued concepts, and simple falsehoods.
    Nonetheless, you get one thing right: "really weird."
    The Lord's people will always be different and peculiar - thanks for recognizing the truth.

  • buddy10mm South Jordan, UT
    April 1, 2018 3:07 p.m.

    It's sad.... before I even read the comments, I knew that many of them would be the "yeah-but" comments: "Yeah, but not all of the 16 million are active;" "Yeah, but the growth rates are slower than normal;" "Yeah, I'm counted as one of the 16 million, but I haven't been in a decade..."
    None of these are claims made in the statistical reports. They're essentially red-herring diversions verging on strawmen. Nowhere in the statistical report does it say "and they're all active," or "and it's growing faster than ever." So why offer the complaint about these facts? Anyone who's sat in a ward council is aware of the gap between total membership and active members. That's no surprise. In fact, to point that out you've only managed to demonstrate a stellar understanding of the obvious.
    To understand an organization or an institution, you need measurable criteria. Total membership (regardless of individual activity in the organization) is a very good baseline criterion. It's the same tool used by political parties, military units, state populations, etc.
    So, when someone pops off with a "yeah, but...", I have to ask: "Why all the hubub, Bub?"

  • Mick , 00
    April 1, 2018 2:55 p.m.

    Not1in 16-

    Yet you continue to care enough to read this article and comment.

  • Geoform Salt Lake City, UT
    April 1, 2018 12:03 p.m.

    Why the negativity? OK flattery. The LDSC excels at coordinating real service to God’s children. And, the LDSC is not unique in wanting its best side to the camera: most businesses, faiths, and people want credit for their best and not censure for their worst. But the fine print is still there and Mormons aren’t candid about it. The efficiency is due to strong leadership thru a priestly class. For LDS the priests hold the keys to individual salvation. Sure, they talk of Christ, but to get to Christ’s grace first you have to promise allegiance to the a prophet and his command structure as Gods generals and judges AND you have to testify you believe Joseph Smith’s visions and theology (God doesn’t define right and wrong, Satan, Adam and Eve do; God was once a man, God is 3 gods, God is not absolute but subject to laws not of his making, God became God through priestly actions; all the ugliness of JSs polygamy, on and on). Also, God’s saving grace requires LDS temple rites. Sacred to you, I respect that, but really weird and unChristian to me. Christ is the new covenant with power to save, sacrifice that can cleanse, priest who can forgive, King who never stumbled-no priest required.

  • Morrison ,
    April 1, 2018 11:13 a.m.

    Wow. Geoform, do you know how other faiths count membership? Statistics for the number of Jews, Muslims, or Catholics in the United States do not just represent those who regularly show up at the synagogue, mosque, or church on the appropriate holy day for that religion. It isn't even a factor at all. Everyone understands that a count of church membership includes all members, participating or not, as it commonly does with most other faiths. To suggest that this practice is misleading is a bit silly.

    As other commenters have pointed out, the LDS church is continually building new meetinghouses and temples, and creating new congregations. Because of these trends, it is safe to assume that as the total membership increases, so too does the number of participating members.

    Despite your obviously negative opinion of the church in general, I appreciated your reference to your otherwise decent LDS neighbors. In the end, decent LDS neighbors are the slickest advertising that the LDS church has to offer...

  • not1in16million Salt Lake City, UT
    April 1, 2018 11:08 a.m.

    Haven’t attended in over 10 years, do not “sustain” the leadership nor believe the corporation is “true”, yet I’m still counted as one of its 16 million “members”. What a fraud.

  • One of Vai's Cousins DC, Washington
    April 1, 2018 10:29 a.m.

    Just some facts when it comes to statistics.

    1. Yes the church is growing.
    2. The growth rate is at one of the lowest rates in its history.
    3. Stakes have less units and units (wards and branches) have a higher average number of members than ever.
    4. Best estimates (by active member statisticians) of activity rate world wide is about 30%.

    No spin, just statistical facts.

  • Mick , 00
    April 1, 2018 1:58 a.m.


    Do you consider yourself catholic? Do you attend church weekly? Monthly? Yearly? Or is it because you cheer for a certain basketball team?

    And why do you care? Why all the negative comments all the time?

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    March 31, 2018 10:48 p.m.

    Why the negative comments here?

    For most churches, their membership is in decline, and many churches are literally closing their doors, while the LDS church continues to grow. Does the LDS church have difficulties with their youth falling away? Sure, there are LDS youth who are led away by the enticing of the world, but all that proves is that their youth are just like all youth in the world. Still, the church is growing like no other. Going from ten temples in 1950 to one hundred fifty nine temples (and more in the works), roughly 1 million members in 1950 to over 16 million today. Only the jealous and hateful could possibly deny that the LDS church is growing.

  • Eastern CO Coug Elizabeth, CO
    March 31, 2018 10:36 p.m.

    Just ask the Catholic church how many are active. The LDS does pretty darn well relatively speaking. Why the animosity?

  • Pac_Man Pittsburgh, PA
    March 31, 2018 10:33 p.m.

    It is difficult to say. How many are unable to attend or refuse to attend yet consider themselves Mormon? There are many ways of looking at it.

  • Rockyrd Gilbert, AZ
    March 31, 2018 10:17 p.m.

    The church is growing. Members are counted unless they die, are excommunicated or resign their membership. The number of converts and children baptized is way ahead of the three other categories.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2018 10:01 p.m.

    The question is how many of the 16 million members are active?

  • 1Reader Alpine, UT
    March 31, 2018 9:44 p.m.

    The LDS Church is growing, though probably a bit more slowly than before--due to demographics, broad societal and other factors.
    Inactive (non-attending) members are generally counted--as they should be, for a variety of reasons--if they are still officially a member. Membership record reviews in one country resulted in a slightly lower total number, even though convert baptisms were up by around 17%.

    That said, a half or less LDS 'activity' rate is a distinctly different measure than for most churches' parishioners. For example, active LDS members likely average a few hundred hours per year of attendance, service and activity--while many adherents to other faiths attend maybe two hours per year and consider themselves full members of those churches.

  • Pac_Man Pittsburgh, PA
    March 31, 2018 9:39 p.m.

    Overall I think it is growing. In 1950 there were 1 million members and now there is 16 times that much. Of course, not all are active but that depends on the individual.

  • Geoform Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2018 9:04 p.m.

    The LDS Church counts membership differently than many other churches. All living members ever baptized whether active or not are counted - even those who never attended again after baptism or stopped all association decades ago. Hence, LDS Church stats are unreliable. Really, they are misleading. If only attending Mormons were counted, various estimates put actual membership at approx. 4 to 8 million. For Mormons and their restorationist claims, image management is vital. If you’ve been exposed to the steady diet of public perception campaigns waged by the Lds church in recent decades you know what I’m referring to: slick ads on British buses, multiple high quality internet cites and campaigns painting a rosy picture but glossing over their real doctrine and history or just leaving it out altogether. Whether it’s a Mormon friends multilevel marketing pitch or a Mormon church missionary pitch, essay or stat, there’s always fine print, always something you find out later they didn’t want you to know. The result is my otherwise decent Lds neighbors, friends and coworkers seem dishonest about basic tenets and history. Heck, they can’t even tell it straight on attendance.

  • rkl Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2018 8:57 p.m.

    The church as been building about one meeting house a day for the last 30 years. If the church is shrinking, who are all those people that are sitting in the pews, every Sunday? The church is growing. Activity is increasing.

    There will always be those that at different times in their lives are less active. Many of them return, and as they do, we still need to build more meeting houses.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    March 31, 2018 8:29 p.m.


    Official LDS membership counts include all living persons who have been baptized and not officially left the church via either excommunication nor officially resigning their membership. So yes, the number includes less active and inactive of "jack Mormons".

    How many active members depends on how one defines active. Within the church culture, active might be defined as having a current temple recommend which requires adherence to the health code, payment of tithes, moral chastity, etc. Non LDS religious scholars typically define active participation in a church as attending service once a month or even 4 times a year.

    One evidence of growth is the building of chapels. Non participating members don't take up room in pews on Sunday.

    Building of temples is another sign of growth, though that might fairly be growth of strength among active members (going to the temple more) rather than growth in raw numbers.

    But building buildings and the growing number of stakes is evidence of growing numbers of active members in the LDS church.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    March 31, 2018 7:53 p.m.

    "Officially"? How many have left and are still on the rolls? How many got baptized and never came back. Why, with all this growth are they combining PU and EQ? The numbers don't add up.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 31, 2018 5:02 p.m.


    If you were born in 1950 and baptized in the LDS church, and you didnt die, but you have not attended or participated in 50 years, are you counted in that 16 million?

    If so, is there a count of active LDS members?

    I am trying to understand if the LDS church is growing or shrinking.