Monday, June 12, 2017

The Internet and LDS Growth

Five years ago, I wrote a case study for cumorah.com regarding the influence of the internet on LDS growth trends worldwide. This case study identifies arguments that the internet may foster or deter LDS growth, and analyzes membership growth trends among the countries with the highest and lowest rates of internet usage. This case study examines these trends using data between 2000 and 2010. I want to reaffirm that internet usage continues to appear to have no significant influence on overall LDS growth rates within the past decade based upon the research I have conducted, namely pouring over thousands of member and return missionary surveys, and the examination of internet usage rates and LDS growth rates. Rather, socioeconomic conditions (e.g. GDP per capita, standard of living, etc.), secularism, and other cultural factors appear to most strongly affect the receptivity of specific populations to LDS teachings. Furthermore, church policies regarding missionary work, proselytism approaches, and member involvement in missionary work also appear to significantly influence LDS growth trends.

Below is the conclusion of this case study:

Factors identified that favor or deter LDS growth ... indicate that the positive and negative influences of the internet on LDS growth are nearly equal in strength resulting in little to no fluctuation in membership and congregational growth trends from the recent past in most countries around the world. Rather, fluctuations in membership and congregational growth rates appear caused by changes in convert baptismal standards, mission and area policies, initiatives in mission outreach expansion, and the level of religiosity and receptivity to nontraditional Christian denominations in individual countries. Countries in which internet usage is widespread have generally exhibited linear membership growth trends before and after the advent of the internet, suggesting that the internet has a limited influence on the number of convert baptisms if there is any relationship at all. Congregational growth rates have remained stagnant or have declined in the past decade in many of the countries with the highest rates of internet usage, but this has been largely the result of other factors [(e.g. effective meetinghouse utilization programs, emphasis on the establishment of congregations with larger numbers of active members to provide more diverse socialization opportunities, closure of smaller congregations to avoid member burnout, lack of missionary resources to provide member and leadership support)] . 

Click here to access the case study. Additional insights and feedback regarding this topic would be much appreciated.

10 comments:

Matthew Lunsford said...

I think we can utilize the internet more effectively and more individually. I recently created an ad for Facebook with a link to the free Book of Mormon on Mormon.org. You can reach thousands with just $15. It adds up if enough people are willing to do it. Also, posting Book of Mormon scriptures on our social media. I'm a convert and many on my friends list are not members, so it may be the only time they'll ever read a verse from the Book of Mormon. If we all start using it to effectively reach more people, I think we will see a big change in the effectiveness of the internet.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I like seeing individual Gospel initiative on the Internet. Good to see full time missionaries using social and Church media effectively.
I still think, probably as many modern day prophets have proclaimed, that we LDS need more media and narrative artists and spokespeople.

james anderson said...

Using Twitter and Instagram willl reach more, simply because antthing you post is there for all to see. Hashtag key words, general Christian terms, even specific major denomination or movement names, and you will get at least some hits.

The Church itself used Snapchat this last Conference, and ignored Facebook and Twitter, with Twitter now pushing a live broadcast platform right on the page with high-profile sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, and even a BYU game during the WCC championships, this is an untapped way of gettting things out there.

Snapchat has an unsavory reputation still, but it is slowly going away but much more so than the others had with that in the past but I haven't heard figures on how well they got things out this last Conference.

Bryan Baird said...

How often is Cumorah updated, cause the info I read on certain counties are pre 2010. I have yet to see 2015 or 2016.

John Pack Lambert said...

There is now a Pohnpeian branch in North Carolina. This may be the first unit in that state not designated as English orSpanish language.

james anderson said...

Speaking of the Internet, this is amajor event, for the first time a significant broadcast event will take palce being broadcast from Africa, one in three languages, the second in French the same day.

https://www.lds.org/church/events/face-to-face-with-elder-and-sister-renlund-regional?lang=eng

Christopher Nicholson said...

Maybe I'm just nit-picky, but it bothers me when they say "Ghana, Africa" or "Kenya, Africa" or whatever. They would never even consider saying "United States, North America" or "Brazil, South America" or "France, Europe". If American members are so ignorant they don't know that Ghana is in Africa, that's *their* problem.

Leo Winegar said...

Hi Matthew Lunsford,

My name is Leo and I think you have an awesome story. I host an international study group for active members of the church. Would you email me (leowinegar@gmail.com)? I'd like to invite you to present your approach to online missionary work.

Thank you,
Leo Winegar

Iris and Craig said...

Read this little gem on my Facebook Newsfeed today from a friend. "Wonderful news from my friend Ibrahima in Mali: "Elder Nash West Africa Area President first counselor will be in Mali to create the first branch of Bamako, MALI in June 26 and elder Vinson will come on July and others authorities to establish the first mission with Abidjan Cote d'ivoire Mission and first missionaries will be in Mali on July 2017."

James said...

What exciting developments! For me myself, I hope that my blog, where the main focus is general Church news and current and potential future temple developments in particular, is adding to the positive things happening with the spreading of the gospel via the internet. I invite any who would like to visit my blog to follow the link below. I have done several new posts just within the last week or so. As I am still uncertain whether or not I have fixed the issues people have had in trying to leave comments, I hope any of you who want to comment and are not able to will let me know. Thanks for taking time to read this.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com