Reason #106: LDS Membership, Conversion and Retention Numbers in Question

I have been hearing from both people who have recently left the LDS Church as well as some who attend meetings but are considering leaving that they perceive that the number of local ward members who are actually active seems to be declining.  Others report that missionary conversion rates are declining.  Others speak of the high percentage of missionary companions who have left the LDS Church.

Here’s an interesting quote from the Mormon Social Science Association–

“. . .regarding retention rates…  the LDS Church does not release this information.  But there are ways to estimate this and several researchers have done so, giving us our current best estimates.  For instance, Rick Phillips (2006), using census data for a variety of countries, compared the membership information supplied by the LDS Church in its annual almanac to the self-reported membership identifications of people in those countries and found that the LDS Church over-estimated its membership.  The actual number of Mormons in those countries ranged from 20%  to 70% of what the LDS Church claimed.  The major implication of this finding is that retention rates of Mormon converts are fairly low.”

You can read the rest of this very interesting article here.

For more information, see The Mormon Mirage 3rd Edition:  A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today(Zondervan, 2009). Also available as an audiobook and as an expanded-text E-book for Nook, Kindle and other reading devices.




  1. Sharon
    May 20, 2012

    Hello Latayne, Thanks for your website and the good information. I have one of your books which has been a blessing and encouragement to me. I am a Christian, and my husband is an LDS convert of 37 years, He is fiercely defensive of the church so we have difficulty discussing spiritual matters. It is sad to go our separate ways each Sunday. He has a temple recommend but does not wear his garments consistently-mostly on Sundays and for visits to LDS family or for home teaching, etc. I would think this would be more imortant for him as he is a full tithe payer and regular attender of his meetings and does his hometeaching, etc. I have been with him occasionally to his meetings but notice that there are not that many faithful attenders, especially among the new converts they get. Many of the members are rather unfriendly and seem not really very happy or joyful. I don’t hear much when I have attended with him-mostly about the word of wisdom, reading the BOM, and similar faith-promoting testimonies. It is sad that these members, and others elsewhere, are so in bondage and do not know the Lord Jesus as personal Savior. Would you, please, pray for him–C– and for me that I might not get so discouraged because I really do that even though I know that God has a perfect plan and I just need to be faithful to pray. I am blessed by your testimony. In Christ, Sharon

  2. Michelle
    Nov 14, 2013

    This is not true the growth rate in 1 year has been in the 100,000’s more world wide. I am LDS and i don’t mean to be mean because our church believes in giving a say and opinion. but that does not mean people have to be rude about it. I understand you don’t like it but you might be making people leave because of the “reasons” you are giving to leave. Have you even been to a sacrament meeting , a Sunday school teaching , elders quorum , young womens , young mens , primary or relief society meetings, if not then you don’t know as much as you think. Maybe learn more then say all this. You might like it but if you don’t don’t blame the people for it. Maybe it is just not for you but my dad’s side of the family quit church because they were being criticized . My name is Michelle Thompson I am a Latter-Day Saint and i will stand for what i believe in.

  3. admin
    Nov 14, 2013

    Michelle, I am glad you are standing up for what you believe in. Do you have some documentation on the growth rate of the LDS church?

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