LDS Growth Encyclopedia on Missionary Work and Church Growth (Missiology)
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Seminary and Institute Enrollment
Author: Matt Martinich
Posted: September 21st, 2013
The Church offers religion classes outside of Sunday worship in most areas of the world through the Church Education System (CES). Seminary offers religion classes on LDS scriptures every weekday for secondary school students during the academic school year. Classes occur either in the morning before high school begins (early morning) or during the school day as an off period (released time). Institute provides religion classes for adults. The demographics of adults who attend institute differ by location. In the United States, many institute students attend a college or university whereas in other countries young single adults and new converts account for most institute students regardless of education status.
CES releases enrollment figures for seminary and institute for every school year in its annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Report. The report contains enrollment figures for each country with a reportable church presence as well as state-by-state figures for the United States. Other statistics presented in the report include the year seminary and institute began in each country and worldwide seminary and institute enrollment by school year since 1912.
Seminary and institute provides insights into church growth for several reasons. First, enrollment figures reflect member activity rates in many countries. Researchers can ascertain the percentage of nominal members enrolled in seminary or institute to examine member activity rates. This is possible because most seminary and institute students attend church regularly and follow church teachings. Second, seminary enrollment figures provide data on the number of active or semi-active youth in a particular country. Youth and young single adults comprise a larger percentage of church membership in many countries that have high percentages of members attending seminary or institute. Third, the introduction of seminary and institute to a country indicates greater focus on strengthening and teaching youth, young adults, and recent converts. Although the Church designates some senior missionary couples to start or manage CES operations in a country, there is some degree of local self-sufficiency in sustaining these programs as seminary and institute require ordinary members to serve as teachers.
During the 2010-2011 school year, seminary enrollment accounted for 2.7% of worldwide church membership for year-end 2010. The ten countries that had the highest percentage of membership enrolled in seminary were Benin (23.1%), Togo (10.8%), Sierra Leone (8.3%), Cameroon (7.2%), Antigua and Barbuda (6.9%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (6.7%), Madagascar (6.2%), Namibia (5.8%), the Republic of the Congo (5.6%), and Kazakhstan (5.6%) whereas ten countries that had at least one individual enrolled in seminary with the lowest percentage of membership enrolled in seminary were Croatia (0.2%), Greece (0.3%), Bulgaria (0.4%), Poland (0.5%), Kiribati (0.6%), Luxembourg (0.7%), Portugal (0.7%), Romania (0.7%), the Czech Republic (0.8%), and Curacao (0.9%). The ten countries that had the highest percentage of membership enrolled in institute were Benin (27.5%), Togo (23.8%), Cameroon (16.1%), Kazakhstan (15.4%), Sierra Leone (14.0%), Latvia (12.6%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11.1%), Republic of the Congo (10.5%), Namibia (10.5%), and Lithuania (9.3%) whereas the ten countries that had at least one individual enrolled in institute with the lowest percentage of membership enrolled in institute were Papua New Guinea (0.2%), Luxembourg (0.3%), the United States Virgin Islands (0.4%), French Guiana (0.5%), Aruba (0.6%), Portugal (0.7%), the Cook Islands (0.8%), Curacao (0.9%), Chile (1.1%), and Paraguay (1.1%). The ten countries with the highest percentage of membership enrolled in either seminary or institute were Benin (50.7%), Togo (34.6%), Cameroon (23.2%), Sierra Leone (22.2%), Kazakhstan (21.0%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (17.8%), Namibia (16.3%), the Republic of the Congo (16.1%), Latvia (14.2%), and Madagascar (13.2%) whereas the ten countries with the lowest percentage of membership enrolled in either seminary or institute were Aruba (0.6%), Luxembourg (1.0%), Portugal (1.4%), Niue (1.4%), Dominica (1.6%), Papua New Guinea (1.7%), the United States Virgin Islands (1.8%), Curacao (1.8%), Kiribati (1.9%), and Greece (2.0%). The high percentage of members enrolled in seminary and institute in Sub-Saharan Africa reflects moderate to high rates of member activity and convert retention, younger average age for the general population compared to other world regions, and strong emphasis on seminary and institute attendance. Low percentages of members enrolled in seminary and institute in Eastern Europe correlate with poor member activity and convert retention rates, often insufficient numbers of active adult members to serve as seminary teachers, and comparatively few youth and young adults in the general population compared to other world regions. Low rates of seminary and institute attendance in the Lesser Antilles, Portugal, and Latin America appear primarily due to low member activity and convert retention rates. However, few members enrolled in seminary and institute in some areas of the Lesser Antilles appears due to the recent introduction of these programs.
The worldwide trend in the increase of seminary and institute attendance has varied over the past century with some periods experiencing rapid growth and others experiencing stagnant growth or slight decline. There were 70 enrolled in seminary during the 1912-1913 school year. The total number of students enrolled in seminary and institute reached 1,000 during the 1917-1918 school year, 10,000 during 1925-1926 school year, 50,000 during the 1957-1958 school year, 100,000 during the 1963-1964 school year, 200,000 during the 1972-1973 school year, 300,000 during the 1977-1978 school year, 400,000 during the 1989-1990 school year, 500,000 during the 1993-1994 school year, 600,000 during the 1996-1997 school year, and 700,000 during the 2000-2001 school year. Seminary and institute enrollment reached a high of 742,610 during the 2001-2002 school year, declined to 698,664 during the 2006-2007 school year, and reached a new high of 744,168 during the 2011-2012 school year. The stagnation of seminary and institute enrollment in the 2000s occurred in tandem with other concerning church growth related statistics such as a significant decline in the number of new stakes created, massive reduction in worldwide congregational growth, and the number of full-time missionaries serving suddenly dropping by over 10,000 and exhibiting no noticeable increases thereafter.
 "Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Annual Report for 2012," institute.lds.org, retrieved 12 September 2012. http://institute.lds.org/content/languages/english/Institute%20of%20Religion%20Materials/General/SI_Annual_Report_2012.pdf