Vox LDS growth article

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Roy
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Vox LDS growth article

Post by Roy » 06 Mar 2019, 15:55

https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/3/6 ... day-saints

conventional StayLDS wisdom might suggest that the LDS church has a harder time keeping members in the internet/information age because of some of our exagerated and whitewashed history that is now much more accessible to verification. One might think that the LDS church would be having a harder time than many churches whose foundations stretch back at least a few hundred years more.

The above article claims that the LDS church is doing a better job than its religious contempories at retaining the next generation and analyzes some of the reasons why.

Thoughts?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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DarkJedi
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Mar 2019, 16:24

Interesting. Earlier today I listened to last week's Mormon Land podcast with Jana Reiss on the release of her new book. https://www.sltrib.com/podcasts/mormonland/ Frankly I'm more skeptical of the the Vox article and I'm not sure the research illustrates what Cox asserts. Reiss would argue the church does no better or no worse than other churches in holding on to Millennials and that in the US TCoJCoLdS growth is essentially stagnant (that is barely keeping pace with population growth) where historically that was not the case - but it was not the case for other churches either.

(Note to Muggles: When was the last time you heard someone in authority assert TCoJCoLdS is the fastest growing church?)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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SamBee
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by SamBee » 06 Mar 2019, 17:42

Very simple. YSA. Easily one of the best programs in the church and far better organized than its equivalents in other churches.

Pentecostal churches attract a lot of young people but they are less formally organized.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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SilentDawning
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by SilentDawning » 07 Mar 2019, 00:17

I read it. A key paragraph, for me, is here:
One-quarter of Americans are religiously unaffiliated today, a roughly fourfold increase from a couple of decades earlier. Christian denominations around the country are contending with massive defections. White Christian groups have experienced the most dramatic losses over the past decade. Today, white evangelical Protestants account for 15 percent of the adult population, down from nearly one-quarter a decade earlier. By contrast, Mormons have held steady at roughly 2 percent of the US population for the past several years. And perhaps as importantly, Mormons are far younger than members of white Christian traditions.
They are talking about membership loss, not growth. In our church, you have to formally resign. I wonder how they are measuring membership loss in other churches? And how do the numbers come out after you consider less activity rates?

The average age of Mormons being younger than members of white Christian traditions is a good sign for our Church. I do wonder if this is due to larger families in our church than other churches - something the article acknowledges.

Lots of children translates in more kids to bring down the average age more than in other churches. I know this should flow through to the adults too, evening out the age distribution, but we rely on a lot of converts too who are adults and don't have a lot of adult brothers and sisters in the church. So I think the large family sizes of young Mormons has something to do with our lower average age.

It sounds good on the surface, but when you look under the hood, I wonder.

Nonetheless, if the numbers support the conclusions in the article,that's great as I'm not out paint the church into a corner :)
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

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DarkJedi
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by DarkJedi » 07 Mar 2019, 06:22

SilentDawning wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 00:17
I read it. A key paragraph, for me, is here:
One-quarter of Americans are religiously unaffiliated today, a roughly fourfold increase from a couple of decades earlier. Christian denominations around the country are contending with massive defections. White Christian groups have experienced the most dramatic losses over the past decade. Today, white evangelical Protestants account for 15 percent of the adult population, down from nearly one-quarter a decade earlier. By contrast, Mormons have held steady at roughly 2 percent of the US population for the past several years. And perhaps as importantly, Mormons are far younger than members of white Christian traditions.
They are talking about membership loss, not growth. In our church, you have to formally resign. I wonder how they are measuring membership loss in other churches? And how do the numbers come out after you consider less activity rates?

The average age of Mormons being younger than members of white Christian traditions is a good sign for our Church. I do wonder if this is due to larger families in our church than other churches - something the article acknowledges.

Lots of children translates in more kids to bring down the average age more than in other churches. I know this should flow through to the adults too, evening out the age distribution, but we rely on a lot of converts too who are adults and don't have a lot of adult brothers and sisters in the church. So I think the large family sizes of young Mormons has something to do with our lower average age.

It sounds good on the surface, but when you look under the hood, I wonder.

Nonetheless, if the numbers support the conclusions in the article,that's great as I'm not out paint the church into a corner :)
The bolded sentence is a very good point, and perhaps why I'm seeing a difference in the two. While Riess is also talking about loss (at least in part), her measurement of loss includes those who are on the rolls but are not active by choice. She also includes in her stats those who do attend church at least sometimes but don't necessarily live all the standards of the church - like WoW (she notes coffee and alcohol use are somewhat common among Mormon Millennials). I do want to read her book but have not yet. However, I have read much of what she has written in promoting the book and I have heard her in multiple podcasts. I think she would assert that the church is generally following the trends of other churches and American society in general when it comes to Millennials. From the societal point of view, specifically, she would point to Mormons marrying later, having fewer children, and more women working (and more women professionals) as trends as well, but not necessarily at the rate of general society (in other words, Mormonism is a little behind the curve). I'm not trying to say Riess is right and Cox is wrong, I think they're both right and both wrong - it just depends on what you're looking at and how you're looking at it. My own anecdotal experiences (as the parent of four Millennials) skew more toward what Riess says.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

AmyJ
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by AmyJ » 07 Mar 2019, 06:41

I found this quote to resonate with me the most:
"The reasons Americans leave religion are varied, often complex, and incredibly personal. "

I used to treat faith transitions as one-dimensional experiences that people "fell into" for the common reasons (which wasn't going to happen to me because I was "better" than that). That thinking evaporated like steam coming off a pot of boiling water.

I wish that our culture could understand that. I am hopeful that as more faith transition stories are shared (especially on our website), that this truth will alter our actions towards others. In Pathways and in Relief Society (when I can) I carefully point out that when one stumbles across a person whose view of God has changed (marked by no longer attending church and so forth), it is safe to assume that a lot of thinking went into that process and that there were elements of mourning that person went through. Something to keep in mind when getting to know them is that that person probably went through/is going through a grieving process and we should treat them accordingly.

I mourn. I mourn the understanding of the relationship with God that I thought I had. I mourn the warmth/comfort/certainty I had when my world view was different. At this point, I know that I can't go back to my previous worldview, but I can do my best to act with dignity and compassion (for myself and for others) going forward.

Roy
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by Roy » 07 Mar 2019, 10:20

Thanks for the perspectives given so far. Excellent comments!
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

nibbler
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by nibbler » 07 Mar 2019, 13:53

I don't doubt that the LDS church does a better job than other churches when it comes to retaining people but I think it would be more interesting to see a study that attempts to explain the reasons why.

A good retention rate may be an indication that we do an extremely good job when it comes to social programming. It could also indicate that the church is filling people's needs. It would be interesting to learn the reasons for the retention. I can guess what church leaders would say and what the author of the article might say.

To drive the point home by employing some hyperbole, a group that doesn't allow members to leave and uses threat of force to retain members might experience a more favorable retention rate than other groups, but the retention rate is not an indication of that the group must be doing something right when compared to other groups. I'm not saying the LDS church does this, I'm just saying that a high retention rate alone isn't very telling.
SamBee wrote:
06 Mar 2019, 17:42
Very simple. YSA. Easily one of the best programs in the church and far better organized than its equivalents in other churches.
When I was a YSA I did enjoy the feeling of community. I've also felt this in smaller units, like branches. As an adult in a larger ward the feeling of community is mostly absent. At this stage in life, church feels like it's all business. Full disclosure, I've got to do my part to create a community but life is so busy already; I like to unwind with my free time rather than be given more tasks to do, and more tasks to do appears to be the only thing the church has to offer to someone in my stage of life. So it really comes down to me laying the groundwork for my children to enjoy the precious, fleeting YSA years but not deriving any direct benefit.

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SamBee
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by SamBee » 07 Mar 2019, 16:34

One of my big regrets about my inactivity was I did it as a YSA. Wish I'd waited later... Only joking.

My family's denomination had little or nothing for that age group. Sunday school for small children, then boring services and nothing during the week for everyone else. Maybe a coffee morning for the old people during the week.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

Roy
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Re: Vox LDS growth article

Post by Roy » 08 Mar 2019, 10:36

http://www.ldsliving.com/-Vox-Most-Chur ... hy/s/90397

LDSLiving did an article on the Vox article. ;)
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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