LDS Church Growth, Member Activity, and Convert Retention: Review and Analysis

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Chapter: IV-05: Member-Missionary Participation

In 1991, Elder L. Tom Perry cited missionary department research that 86 percent of new converts who remain active have close personal ties to other LDS members,[1] and so the involvement of members in the teaching and fellowshipping processes is crucial. Yet Elder M. Russell Ballard noted that LDS Missionary Department studies have reported that only 3-5% of active LDS members in North America are regularly involved in missionary work.[2] In the same article, he stated that in 1987, member referrals accounted for 42 percent of a cross-section of the population of investigators in North America being taught by missionaries. In 1997, that figure had fallen to 20 percent, and members accounted for only one in ten referrals. The absolute number of referrals has also dropped, in spite of a significant increase in total membership. Elder Dallin Oaks reported in 2003 that the average ward or branch in the United States and Canada provided an average of only two member referrals per month.[3]

[1] Perry, L. Tom, LDS Church News, June 21, 1991.
[2] Ballard, M. Russell. "Members are the Key." Ensign, September 2000. I have verified with the missionary department that the 3-5% figure cited in the August 1999 Conversion and Retention broadcast is correct, and that the 35% figure cited in the Ensign is an error.
[3] Oaks, Dallin A., "The Role of Members in Conversion," Ensign, March 2003.