Reaching the Nations International Church Growth Almanac

Country reports on the LDS Church around the world from a landmark almanac. Includes detailed analysis of history, context, culture, needs, challenges and opportunities for church growth.


By David Stewart and Matt Martinich

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Area: 1,904,569 square km.  Located in Southeast Asia between the Philippines and Australia, Indonesia consists of several archipelagos and over 17,500 large islands, a third of which are inhabited.   Kalimantan (Borneo), Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, and Irian Jaya (western New Guinea) are the largest islands and account for the majority of the population.  Lowlands occupy coastal areas and experience hot, tropical climate whereas larger islands with interior highlands and tall mountains are subject to cooler climatic conditions.  Floods, droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and forest fires are natural hazards.  Environmental issues include deforestation, pollution, and poor air quality from forest fires.  Indonesia is administratively divided into 30 provinces, 2 special regions, and 1 special capital city district. 

Population: 240,271,522 (July 2010)       

Annual Growth Rate: 1.136% (2010)    

Fertility Rate: 2.28 children born per woman (2010)   

Life Expectancy: 68.26 male, 73.38 female (2010)


Javanese: 40.6%

Sundanese: 15%

Madurese: 3.3%

Minangkabau: 2.7%

Betawi: 2.4%

Bugis: 2.4%

Banten: 2%

Banjar: 1.7%

other/unspecified: 29.9%

Languages: 719 indigenous languages are spoken.  Indonesian is the official language, which is spoken by over 140 million as a second language and typically uses the Latin script.  Languages with over one million native speakers include Javanese (84.3 million), Sunda (34 million), Bahasa Indonesian (22.8 million), Madura (13.6 million), Malay dialects (8.21 million), Batak dialects (7.05 million), Minangkabau (5.53 million), Musi (3.93 million), Aceh (3.5 million), Banjar (3.5 million), Bugis (3.5 million), Bali (3.33 million), Betawi (2.7 million), Sasak (2.1 million), Chinese languages (2 million), and Makasar (1.6 million).

Literacy: 90.4% (2004)


The archipelagos of Indonesia were settled by Austronesians several millennia prior to the birth of Christ.  Between the seventh and fourteenth centuries AD, the Buddhist Srivjaya Empire flourished on Sumatra and the Hindu Kingdom of Majapahit governed eastern Java.  Much of present-day Indonesia was unified under alliances in the fourteenth century.  Islam was introduced in the twelfth century and became the dominant religion on Java and Sumatra by the sixteenth century.  Christianity and Islam were introduced to eastern islands in Indonesia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The archipelago was colonized in the early seventeenth century bythe Dutch and quickly became one of the wealthiest European colonies worldwide.  Japan occupied Indonesia for much of World War II after which Indonesia declared independence. Independence was internationally recognized by 1950 after negotiations with the Netherlands and the United Nations.  Within the first decade of independence, several islands such as Sumatra and Sulawesi attempted to secede, resulting in internal instability.  President Soekarno enacted presidential powers to preserve the unity of the country, which over time experienced increasing power of communist ideologies until a massive rebellion in the 1965 in which General Suharto emerged as president. The Communist Party was subsequently banned and dismantled. President Suharto initiated economic development reforms and applied Western economic theory.  A military-backed government ruled until the 1990s.  The first free parliamentary election occurred in 1999.  The province of East Timor declared independence in 1975, but was invaded and occupied by Indonesia. Conflict continued until 1999, when East Timor was released from Indonesia with support of the United Nations. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami devastated coastal areas of the Sumatra, killing over 130,000 and leaving half a million homeless.  Separatists in Aceh reached a peace deal with the government in 2005.[1] 


Indonesia represents an agglomeration of various religions, civilizations, and countries fusing with local culture.  Today Islam is one of the strongest cultural forces as Indonesia is the country with the most Muslims in the world, although Indonesian Islam is very different from the strict Wahabbi Islam of Saudi Arabia and some other Middle Eastern nations.  India, the Dutch, and China each have heavily influenced art, cuisine, religion, and local customs.  Individual ethnic groups possess many indigenous cultural characteristics such as dress, dance, music, and religion.  Ethnic groups residing in remote areas retain many of the traditional cultural practices and beliefs.  Silat is an Indonesian martial art which continues to be widely practiced today.  Traditional and Western sports are widely practiced.  Common foods and cuisine share many similarities with other Southeastern countries, China, and India.  Rice, cassava, sea food, and vegetables are widely consumed.  Polygamy and pornography are illegal.[2]  Cigarette consumption rates compare to the worldwide average whereas alcohol consumption rates are low. 


GDP per capita: $4,000 (2009) [8.63% of US]

Human Development Index: 0.734

Corruption Index: 2.8

The Indonesian economy has outperformed most Asian economies in recent years due to strong domestic production and economic reforms.  GDP growth continued despite the global financial crisis in the late 2000s, but has slowed from previous levels.  Indonesia possesses vast natural resources, including oil, rare minerals, timber, coal, fertile soils, and the twelfth largest natural gas reserves worldwide.  Metals and minerals mined include tin, nickel, bauxite, copper, gold, and silver.  Challenges which impede greater economic growth and development include corruption, widespread poverty, unemployment, unequal distribution of natural resources throughout the country, and inadequate infrastructure.  Agriculture employs 42% of the work force and generates 15% of the GDP.  Primary agricultural products or crops include rice, cassava, peanuts, rubber, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, meat, and animal byproducts.  Industry accounts for 19% of the workforce and generates 48% of the GDP.  Petroleum, natural gas, textiles, clothing, mining, chemical fertilizers, wood, rubber, and tourism are primary industries.  Services employ 49% of the workforce and generate 37% of the GDP.  Primary trade partners include Singapore, Japan, China, and the United States. 

Corruption is perceived as widespread and harmful to economic development.  Personal associations often heavily influence business deals and transactions.  Customs is regarded as one of the most corrupt areas of government.  Bribery is common.  Investment laws reduce competition and economic growth.  The government lacks transparency in many areas.[3]   


Muslim: 86.4%

Christian: 8.7%

Hindu: 1.8%

other/unspecified: 3.4%


Denominations  Members  Congregations

Catholic   8,000,000

Seventh Day Adventists  197,621  1,376

Jehovah's Witnesses  22,023  381

Latter-Day Saints  6,546  22


Indonesia represents a patchwork of religious traditions, although most Indonesians are Sunni Muslim.  Shi'a and Ahmadiyya Qadiyani Muslims are common Muslim minority groups.  The government estimates Protestants number nineteen million and Catholics total eight million.  Consisting of the Indonesian-controlled western half of New Guinea, Papua Province has the highest percentage of Protestants (58%) whereas the eastern Lesser Sunda Islands and West Timor which together constitute East Nasu Tenggara Province have the highest percentage of Catholics (55%).  Christians constitute sizeable minorities in many areas, such as the Maluku Islands and North Sulawesi.  Hindus constitute 90% of the population on the island of Bali and populate scattered areas of Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Tenggara.  Hindus may number as many as 10 million, although discrepancies exist between government figures and those published by Hindu groups. The Chinese Indonesian population is approximately 60% Buddhist.  Syncretism between government-recognized religious groups and indigenous beliefs occur in many areas, with as many as 20 million practicing indigenous beliefs.[4] 

Religious Freedom

Persecution Index: 28th

The constitution protects religious freedom but the government only upholds this right for some religious groups.  The government only recognizes six religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism.  Unrecognized religious groups or sects stemming from recognized religious groups are deemed deviant and often persecuted, but can register with the government as social organizations.  Members of unrecognized religious groups often face challenges obtaining identity cards, registering marriages and births, and building meetinghouses.  Local laws in some areas restrict the religious freedom of religious minorities and the government has not used its power to revoke such laws.  The government has done little to prosecute those alleged of abusing the religious freedom rights of others.  The degree of religious freedom entitled to religious minorities widely varies by location and is largely controlled by local or regional government.  Proselytism and the distribution of religious literature is banned by the government under the justification that such activity may lead to disruption in public order in religiously diverse areas.  Foreign missionaries may operate in the country and must obtain religious worker visas.  The government recognizes several religious holidays from most major religious traditions.  Shari'a law is implemented only in Aceh and is not totally enforced throughout the province.  Minority Muslim groups and Christians appear the most persecuted by the Sunni Muslim majority, although most religious minorities experience some persecution throughout the country.[5] 

Largest Cities

Urban: 52%

Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Bekasi, Tangerang, Semarang, Depok, Palembang, Makasar, Bogor, Padang, Malang, Bandar Lampung, Pekanbaru, Batam, Banjarmasin, Tasikmalaya, Denpasar, Samarinda, Cimahi, Surakarta, Pontianak, Balikpapan, Jambi, Yogyakarta, Manado, Mataram, Cilegon, Cirebon, Palu, Sukabumi, Kupang, Pekalongan, Bengkulu, Kediri, Tegal, Binjai, Kendari, Ambon, Pematangsiantar, Dumai, Probolinggo, Jayapura, Batu, Padang Sidempuan, Banda Aceh, Lubuklinggau, Madiun, Pasuruan, Palangkaraya, Tanjungpinang, Singkawang, Salatiga, Bitung, Banjar, Ternate, Tarakan, Lhokseumawe, Gorontalo, Banjarbaru, Tanjungbalai, Sorong, Pangkalpinang, Langsa, Tebingtinggi, Palopo, Prabumulih, Metro, Blitar, Magelang, Bima, Bontang, Baubau, Pagaralam, Parepare, Mojokerto, Payakumbuh, Bukittinggi.

Cities listed in bold have no LDS congregations.

14 of the 79 cities with over 100,000 inhabitants have an LDS congregation.  20% of the national population resides in the 79 largest cities.

LDS History

Elder Ezra Taft Benson dedicated Indonesia for missionary work in 1969.[6]  Under the Southeast Asia Mission, later renamed the Singapore Mission, the Church assigned the first six full-time missionaries to Indonesia in 1970.  Missionaries initially worked in Jakarta, Bogor, and Bandung.[7]  The Church organized its first branch in Jakarta in February 1970 and received official recognition in August.[8]  Missionary work expanded into additional cities shortly thereafter, which included Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, and Malang by 1977.  In 1974, missionaries began learning Indonesian prior to entering the mission field.  Elder Gordon B. Hinckley became the first LDS apostle to visit Indonesia in 1975.  The Indonesian translation of the Book of Mormon was published in 1977.[9]  Indonesia Jakarta Mission was discontinued in 1981 as a result of overnment restrictions and other difficulties, but was reopened in 1985.  Seminary and institute were both operating by 1981.  Only native members served in Indonesia after November 1988 and the mission closed again in 1989.[10]  The Indonesia Jakarta Mission reopened in 1995.  President Hinckley met with the Indonesian president and with local members in 2000.[11]  In 2010, Elder Russell M. Nelson visited with high ranking government and Muslim officials in Jakarta.[12]

Membership Growth

LDS Membership: 6,546 (2009)

There were 1,200 LDS members in 1975.[13]  Church membership reached 4,000 in 1992.[14]  By year-end 2000, there were 5,374 members. Slow membership growth occurred through the 2000s as Latter-day Saints numbered 5,720 in 2003, 6,144 in 2006, and 6,393 in 2008.  Total church membership tends to increase by 100 a year, or at a rate between 1.5% and 2.5%. Slow membership has consistently occurred in the remote branches of Manado and Medan. In 2009, one in 36,705 was nominally LDS.

Congregational Growth

Wards: 0 Branches: 21 Groups: 2

The first branches were created in the early 1970s.  The Jakarta English Branch was created in 1978.[15]  All three districts operating in Indonesia in 2010 were created prior to 1980.  Two branches were functioning in Malang in 1988.[16]  By 1992, there were 17 branches organized in three districts.[17]  There were 20 congregations by 1993.[18]

The Church reported 20 branches in 2000.  In 2001, the Jakarta Indonesia District had six branches (Bandung, Bekasi, Bogor, Jakarta, Jakarta English, Jakarta South), the Surabaya Indonesia District had four branches (Malag, Malang Selatan, Surabaya Barat, Surabaya Timur), and the Surakarta Indonesia District had seven branches (Banjarsari, Jebres, Magelang, Semarang, Solo Barat, Surakarta, Yogyakarta).  The number of branches increased to 21 in 2001, 22 in 2002, and 24 in 2005 and then decreased to 23 in 2008 and to 22 in 2009.  In mid-2010, the Jakarta Indonesia District had grown to 10 branches with the creation of the Bekasi 2nd, Cigudeg, Tangerang 1st, and Tangerang 2nd Branches over the past decade.  The number of branches in the Surabaya Indonesia District declined by one as both branches in Malang were consolidated.  A branch which once operated in Tembagapura, Papua Province, was discontinued in the late 2000s.  In 2010, the Church reported that a group meet on Bali for church meetings.  The Cigudeg Branch was discontinued in late 2010 and members now meet as group. 

Activity and Retention

Indonesia experiences mediocre levels of member activity and convert retention.  In 1992, local church leaders reported that there was a need for improved convert retention and that long distance from church meetinghouses for some may reduce member activity rates.[19]  420 were enrolled in seminary or institute during the 2008-2009 school year.

Most branches have over 100 active members.  50% of church members attended church in Semarang in early 2010.  There were over 100 members attending church in Malang in early 2010.  Branches with few active members include the Manado (40 active members in late 2009), Bandung, and Medan Branches.  In January 2010, Area Seventy Elder Subandriyo reported that the average sacrament attendance in Indonesia was 40% of total membership.  Current active membership is estimated at 2,600, or 40% of total church membership. 

Language Materials

Languages with LDS Scripture: Bahasa Indonesian, Dutch, English

All LDS scriptures and most church materials are available in Bahasa Indonesian and Dutch.  In 2010, the Church posted the LDS scriptures in Indonesian online at Fundamentals and The Prophet Joseph Smith's Testimony are available in Malay.  Malaysian members reported that in 2009, the Church authorized the translation of the Book of Mormon into Bahasa Malaysian. 


In 1988, the Church dedicated a church-built meetinghouse in Malang[20] and a four-story meetinghouse for two branches and the mission home in Jakarta.[21]  In 2010, LDS congregations met in at least 18 locations, many of which were meetinghouses built by the Church.

Humanitarian and Development Work

Latter-day Saints have undertaken extensive humanitarian assistance and development work in the past decade following natural disasters.  At least 30 humanitarian projects have been completed since 1985, many of which included emergency aid, clean water projects, and wheelchair donations.[22]  In 2000, the LDS Church purchased rice and hygiene supplies which were assembled into kits by members in Jakarta for refugees on Timor. The government thanked the Church for its efforts.[23]  Local church members in Jakarta prepared over 10,000 meals for some of the 30,000 homeless flood victims in 2002.[24]  The Church helped finance a road construction project in Solo in 2003.[25]  Following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Latter-day Saints assisted nearly 300,000 and donated over 6,000 hours of service.  Long-term development projects ensued in the following months, such as providing medical equipment and building restoration work on a hospital in Banda Aceh.  Elder Subandriyo was intimately involved in many of the projects.[26]  Immediately following the disaster, the Church donated over 50,000 body bags at the government's request.[27]  In 2005, the Church donated medical equipment needed after a devastating earthquake in Sumatra.[28]  The Church provided mental health assistance in Banda Aceh in 2005 to tsunami victims.[29]  Local LDS youth in Jakarta took part in an anti-drug campaign in 2006.[30]  In 2006, Latter-day Saint charities and the Church helped construct a new medical rehabilitation center in Aceh Province.[31]  Additional projects undertaken in 2006 with other aid agencies in tsunami-stricken areas included building 16 schools, three health clinics, 1,000 permanent houses, many boats for villagers, and water and sanitation systems for 20 villages.[32]  Emergency aid was donated to victims of the 2006 Java Tsunami.[33]  Almost eight tons of food and water were provided for flood victims in Jakarta in 2007.[34]  In 2007, the Church provided humanitarian aid and food to earthquake victims in Bengkulu.[35]  More than a dozen large-scale development projects in areas affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami were completed in early 2008.[36]  In 2008, the Church completed a clean water project in Kaliwungu with assistance from full-time missionaries.[37]  The Church participated in a government effort for citizens to hold a weekly family night in 2008.[38]


Opportunities, Challenges and Prospects

Religious Freedom

The LDS Church appears to be registered as a social organization and has a positive relationship with the government due to past humanitarian assistance.  Missionaries report that the government severely restricts the number of visas granted for foreign full-time missionaries, resulting in high reliance on the local full-time missionary force to staff the Indonesia Jakarta Mission.  Latter-day Saints have no presence in most areas which have local laws that restrict the religious freedom of minorities.  LDS missionaries do not engage in open proselytism and work primarily through casual conversations with strangers and member referrals.  Latter-day Saint Indonesians report few instances of societal abuse or prejudice.

Cultural Issues

Active religious engagement in many areas is a sensitive matter due to governmental and social pressures to limit potential conflict between various ethnic groups.  Conversion and Christian missionary activity in many areas is frowned upon.  Some areas of Indonesia experience significant hostilities between Christians and Muslims, such as Ambon in the Maluku Islands.  Latter-day Saints have never had a presence in areas with significant conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims.  Although most the population is nominally Muslim, only a minority participates in active, regular worship.  Basic religious principles must be stressed to achieve proper understanding and application of principles taught by full-time missionaries, including prayer, church attendance, and personal scripture reading.  Animism and indigenous beliefs prevail in many areas, which require proper missionary teaching approaches to overcome.  Anti-polygamy laws and greater tolerance of non-Muslims by government and society compared to other Muslim nations provide opportunities for Latter-day Saints to operate with fewer cultural obstacles.   

National Outreach

11% of the national population resides in cities with an LDS mission outreach center. All but three LDS congregations are on the island of Java.  Manado, Medan, and Denpasar (Bali) are the only mission outreach centers off of Java and reach no more than three percent of the population.  Of these three cities, missionaries appear to have been regularly assigned only to Manado.  Most of the 24 million Indonesians living in cities with full-time missionaries are unaware of a Latter-day Saint presence and church teachings.  Proselytism bans reduce outreach potential in areas with LDS congregations and assigned missionaries. 

The Church has not placed full-time missionaries in additional cities for decades.  Distance from mission headquarters in Jakarta and the limited numbers of foreign full-time missionaries permitted to serve by the government challenge efforts to assign missionaries to additional cities off of Java.  The small number of convert baptisms over the past two decades has given the Church little impetus to expand national outreach.  On Java, many Latter-day Saints travel long distances to attend church meetings.  Members living far from church meetinghouses may help to establish additional mission outreach centers closer to their homes one day.  Prospects for such activity outside Java appear unlikely for the foreseeable future due to the small LDS populations in Manado, Medan, and Bali.  Due to visa restrictions limiting the number of  foreign full-time LDS missionaries and no large increase in the number of native full-time missionaries, other methods must be utilized to revitalize mission outreach initiatives and expand national outreach to areas which may be more receptive to LDS teachings, such as Kalimantan and Papua.  Unexplored tactics which can help expand national outreach include calling a Latter-day Saint family to an unreached area  to plant an LDS congregation and establishing Church-sponsored educational facilities in disadvantaged areas.   

Strong LDS Church growth in East Malaysia among indigenous peoples like the Iban may indicate that the native peoples in Indonesian-controlled Kalimantan will be more receptive to LDS teachings than other ethnic groups in other areas of Indonesia.  Many indigenous peoples in Kalimantan exhibit strong cultural ties and similarities with groups in Sarawak and Sabah in East Malaysia and have Christian communities.  In 2010, there was no known LDS presence in any of the four Kalimantan provinces which are inhabited by nearly 14 million people.  With the exception of Manado, Latter-day Saints have never had a presence in predominantly Christian areas.  Unreached Christian areas which may have responsive populations to LDS mission outreach include East Nasu Tenggara, Papua, and a few areas in central Sulawesi and northern Sumatra.  There are almost four million inhabitants in Irian Jaya which are predominantly Christian and unreached by Latter-day Saints.  There is only one LDS congregation on Sulawesi, populated by over 17 million Indonesians.  Sumatra has just one branch in Medan, yet is inhabited by 50 million.

The Church maintains an Internet site for Indonesia at  The website provides information about church beliefs, meetinghouse locations, and local news.  Local Latter-day Saints referring friends and relatives to the website is a passive proselytism approach which with the proper vision can lead to increased numbers of convert baptisms and expansion of national outreach.  

There are meaningful opportunities for Latter-day Saints to proselyte Indonesians living abroad.  Full-time missionaries report teaching Indonesians in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Hong Kong.  No LDS missions outside Indonesia have specific programs for mission outreach directed toward Indonesians. 

Member Activity and Convert Retention

Indonesia overall demonstrates moderate levels of member activity.  Seminary and institute are well attended.  Distance from members' homes to church meetinghouses has reduced member activity in many areas.  Some smaller branches are tight-knit and pose challenges for integrating new converts as many have inactive members which stopped attending church regularly because of perceived offense by a fellow member.  Moderate levels of convert retention and member activity have been achieved through the strong representative of local members in the full-time missionary force. 

Ethnic Issues and Integration

LDS missionaries report few challenges integrating differing ethnic groups into the same congregations at present.  The greatest challenges toward developing self-sustaining and long-term growth appear related to language issues and differing religious backgrounds from LDS converts.  Ethnic integration challenges may become more apparent if the size of the LDS population increases among many varying ethnic groups in the same geographic area.

Language Issues

Two-thirds of the national population speaks Bahasa Indonesian as a first or second language, allowing for modest outreach with current LDS materials in Bahasa Indonesian.  Widespread use of Bahasa Indonesian as well as the lack of church presence in areas where speakers of other languages predominate has reduced the Church's efforts to translate materials in additional Indonesian languages. 

The Church has had abundant opportunities to translate church materials into Javanese over the past three decades, yet Javanese remains the language with the most speakers worldwide without any LDS materials translated.  There appear to be many members which could participate in a translation team as well as large populations of unreached Indonesians who speak Javanese who are not adequately reached by existing Church materials. In 2000, a native senior missionary couple was fluent in Javanese, Indonesian, Dutch, English, and German.[39] 

Sunda is the language with the sixth most speakers worldwide without any LDS materials.  Sunda and other Indonesian languages do not have LDS materials translated at present due to the lack of Latter-day Saints who speak these languages and the lack of a Church presence in areas where these languages are spoken. 

An investigative team from BYU in the 1990s concluded that translation of materials into other languages of Indonesia was unnecessary, the basis for this recommendation is unclear as approximately 80 million Indonesians do not have church materials in a first or second language, and the lack of church materials in other languages severely limits potential for outreach into unreached regions of the country.  The lack of any progress in expanding LDS national outreach to new areas, the failure to develop a core LDS membership among most of Indonesia's numerous ethnicities, and stagnant LDS growth in Indonesia in recent years even while other churches have flourished, all suggest that the Church's one-language policy regarding Indonesia has not produced the desired results and may merit reconsideration.

Not translating materials into additional languages until a sufficient number of Latter-day Saints speak these languages propagates circular logic as many speakers of these languages do not join the Church because they cannot learn about the Church in their native language.  Waiting decades to translate even basic proselytism materials or select scripture passages can result in Latter-day Saints missing windows of opportunity to establish the Church when populations are the most receptive.  Other Christian faiths diligently translate materials and perform outreach throughout the islands of Indonesia and may shepherd the majority of the population receptive to Christianity before Latter-day Saints extend outreach in these areas, likely with the absence of proselytism materials in local languages.  Bans on distributing religious literature create challenges for the Church to utilize LDS materials and mandate the use of passive member-missionary activity in sharing the gospel through brochures or other church literature.  Indonesia experiences higher literacy rates than many developing Muslim nations, reducing challenges for the Church to develop local self-sustaining leadership.

Missionary Service

The first president of the Indonesia Jakarta Mission was a Dutch member who had Indonesian colonist ancestry.  52 missionaries served on Java in early 1977.  At this time, four local members were serving full-time missions.[40]  There were 49 local missionaries serving in Indonesia in 1988.[41]  In 1992, only local members served as full-time missionaries, which numbered 60 at the time.[42]  A mixed German-Indonesian LDS senior missionary couple began serving in 2000.[43]  The number of local members serving members has declined from previous levels as in March 2010, there were 40 native missionaries serving in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission.[44]  A reduction in the full-time missionary force is attributed to fewer youth convert baptisms at present compared to the 1970s and 1980s.  Many members who currently serve full-time missions appear to come from full-member families and were raised in the Church.


All Indonesian-speaking congregations appear to have native branch presidents, including branches in Manado and Medan.  Indonesian Latter-day Saints have served in some national and international church leadership positions.  In 1985, native Indonesian Effian Kadarusman began serving over the Indonesia Jakarta Mission.[45]  President Subandriyo from Jakarta was called to serve as the Indonesia Jakarta Mission president in 1997.[46]  In 2000, Juswan Tandiman from Bekasi was called as the Indonesia Jakarta Mission president.[47]  In 2003, Elder Subandriyo was called as an Area Authority Seventy.[48]  


Indonesia is assigned to the Hong Kong China Temple district.  Temple trips occur regularly and many have attended the temple despite long distances and the high cost for air travel.  Prospects for the Church to built a temple closer to Indonesia appear favorable over the medium-term due to rapid church growth in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries.  Possible temple locations include Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand.  

Comparative Growth

In the 1970s, Indonesia experienced the most rapid LDS membership and congregational growth in Southeast Asia as other nations with an LDS presence at the time, such as Thailand and Singapore, experienced slow to moderate growth.  Since 1990, membership and congregational growth has been among the lowest in Asia.  In 2009, Indonesia had the fourth largest population in the world, yet had the sixty-second most Latter-day Saints.  In 2010, Indonesia was the country with the sixth most members without a stake.  Despite limited membership and congregational growth over the past two decades, Indonesia has maintained one of the highest member activity rates in Asia. 

Most missionary-oriented Christian denominations have experienced much stronger growth in Indonesia than the LDS Church.  Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians today number in the millions due to persistent and creative church planting efforts.  Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists experience moderate rates of membership growth and have larger membership bases compared to Latter-day Saints.  Both these denominations have a presence in the majority of the most populated areas.  Seventh Day Adventists generally add more members and congregations a year that the size of the entire LDS Church in Indonesia.  Adventists organized 30 to 40 new congregations and baptized 6,000 to 10,000 converts a year throughout the 2000s.  Adventist National outreach occurs throughout the country as missions, conferences, or attached mission fields operate on Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, Papua, and some smaller islands.  Latter-day Saints operate one branch in all of the area covered by the SDA East Indonesia Union Conference, which boasts over 100,000 members in nearly 700 congregations.  Jehovah's Witnesses experience more modest growth, but have over 22,000 members and nearly 1,000 converts a year.  Adventists and Witnesses have been proactive in church planting initiatives, self-sufficient local member-missionary outreach, and translation of church materials into many native languages, which has contributed to their exponentially greater growth over the years than the LDS Church.

Future Prospects

Potential for church growth remains high, but Latter-day Saints continue to lack the needed nationwide infrastructure and increase in the number of local full-time missionaries to expand mission outreach and reverse the trend of stagnant growth over the past two decades.  All but three LDS congregations are on the island of Java and there are only two more branches in Indonesia in 2010 than in 1993. Church administrative decisions not to translate any church materials into languages spoken by over 80 million Indonesians, low involvement LDS member-missionary programs, the lack of coherent vision for expanding national outreach into unreached areas, and the failure to reach out to receptive ethnic groups and develop a core leadership among them, all bode poorly for the Church's prospects to achieve breakthroughs in growth in Indonesia in the medium term.  Other denominations which have implemented broader visions for national outreach and have made better use of available opportunities have achieved far more rapid growth in Indonesia than the LDS Church.

Government restrictions on visas for foreign full-time missionaries has limited expansion of national outreach over the past two decades.  Greater local member participation in missionary activity within the bounds of the law is needed to open additional areas to missionary work, although greater institutional vision could considerably facilitate this process.  Other Christian groups have demonstrated that excellent church growth opportunities exist but must be properly approached due to restrictive cultural and governmental conditions.  Latter-day Saints have developed a capable, sustained local leadership which can assist in opening new areas of the country to the church if desired by regional church leadership.  The Jakarta Indonesia District may become a stake in the medium term due to the large number of congregations and active members in the area. 

[1]  "Background Note: Indonesia," Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 4 August 2010.

[2]  "Indonesia," International Religious Freedom Report 2009, 26 October 2009.

[3]  "Background Note: Indonesia," Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 4 August 2010.

[4]  "Indonesia," International Religious Freedom Report 2009, 26 October 2009.

[5]  "Indonesia," International Religious Freedom Report 2009, 26 October 2009.

[6]  "Native missionaries, sign of Church growth in Indonesia," LDS Church News, 6 March 2010.

[7]  Craig, Alison.  "The Saints in Indonesia", Ensign, Jan. 1977, 86

[8]  Mitchell, David.  "Indonesian Saints", Liahona, Aug. 1992, 11

[9]  Craig, Alison.  "The Saints in Indonesia", Ensign, Jan. 1977, 86

[10]  Mitchell, David.  "Indonesian Saints", Liahona, Aug. 1992, 11

[11]  "President Hinckley meets members on Pacific Rim," LDS Church News, 5 February 2000.

[12]  "Courtesy calls made in Indonesia," LDS Church News, 13 March 2010.

[13]  Craig, Alison.  "The Saints in Indonesia", Ensign, Jan. 1977, 86

[14]  Mitchell, David.  "Indonesian Saints", Liahona, Aug. 1992, 11

[15]  "From around the world," LDS Church News, 18 July 1992.

[16]  "From around the world," LDS Church News, 27 February 1988.

[17]  Mitchell, David.  "Indonesian Saints", Liahona, Aug. 1992, 11

[18]  Sheffield, Sheridan R.  "Asia area: Welcome mat is out in several countries," LDS Church News, 19 June 1993.

[19]  Mitchell, David.  "Indonesian Saints", Liahona, Aug. 1992, 11

[20]  "From around the world," LDS Church News, 27 February 1988.

[21]  "From Around the World," LDS Church News, 10 September 1988.

[22]  "Projects - Indonesia," Humanitarian Activities Worldwide, retrieved 5 October 2010.,13501,4607-1-2008-234,00.html

[23]  "Indonesian minister thanks Church for aid," LDS Church News, 6 May 2000.

[24]  "Providing relief for flood victims," LDS Church News, 23 February 2002.

[25]  Thornell, Linda M.  "New road in Indonesia paves way for future generations," LDS Church News, 15 November 2003.

[26]  Weaver, Sarah Jane.  "Proposing projects to villages of tsunami survivors," LDS Church News, 19 March 2005.

[27]  Weaver, Sarah Jane.  "Emergency response is appropriate, immediate," LDS Church News, 15 January 2005.

[28]  Weaver, Sarah Jane.  "In earthquake's wake," LDS Church News, 16 April 2005.

[29]  Weaver, Sarah Jane.  "Tsunami support turns to mental health," LDS Church News, 14 May 2005.

[30]  "Anti-drug campaign," LDS Church News, 4 March 2006.

[31]  Allen, Connie.  "Reconstruction," LDS Church News, 27 May 2006.

[32]  Weaver, Sarah Jane.  "Work continues in Southeast Asia," LDS Church News, 27 May 2006.

[33]  "New disaster prompts more aid to Indonesia," LDS Church News, 22 July 2006.

[34]  "Flood victims fed by the Church," LDS Church News, 24 February 2007.

[35]  "Church aid victims of Indonesia earthquake," LDS Church News, 6 October 2007.

[36] "Tsunami relief, aid finished in Indonesia," LDS Church News, 26 January 2008.

[37]  Palmer, Elder Douglas; Palmer, Sister Jane.  "Gift of clean water," LDS Church News, 21 June 2008.

[38]  Palmer, Elder Douglas; Palmer, Sister Jane.  "Indonesia program focuses on family," LDS Church News, 2 August 2008.

[39]  "Indonesian couple shows gratitude by serving mission in their homeland," LDS Church News, 20 May 2000.

[40]  Craig, Alison.  "The Saints in Indonesia", Ensign, Jan. 1977, 86

[41]  "From around the world," LDS Church News, 27 February 1988.

[42]  Mitchell, David.  "Indonesian Saints", Liahona, Aug. 1992, 11

[43]  "Indonesian couple shows gratitude by serving mission in their homeland," LDS Church News, 20 May 2000.

[44]  "Native missionaries, sign of Church growth in Indonesia," LDS Church News, 6 March 2010.

[45]  Mitchell, David.  "Indonesian Saints", Liahona, Aug. 1992, 11

[46]  "New mission presidents," LDS Church News, 22 February 1997.

[47]  "New mission presidents," LDS Church News, 6 May 2000.

[48]  "New Area Authority Seventies," LDS Church News, 19 April 2003.