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International Resources for Latter-day Saints

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

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Chapter: I-08: Other Terms

The literature on church growth is filled with a variety of descriptive adjectives. Some of these terms defy definition. What are "rapid," "dynamic," "miraculous," and "astronomic" growth? What are "excellent" or "poor" retention rates? Is church growth "steady" in countries where many congregations have been consolidated? These subjective terms often have different meanings to different people, and cannot be readily quantified. Official discussions of church growth are prone to hyperbole, just as every mission is "the best mission in the church," and problems and challenges such as inactivity are often cloaked in euphemism when they are referenced at all. It is therefore essential that discussion of church growth center around the analysis of objective data, and that the data be adequate to support descriptive terms as well as conclusions.