LDS Growth Encyclopedia on Missionary Work and Church Growth (Missiology)

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LDS Church News

Author: Matt Martinich

Posted: February 7th, 2014

The LDS Church News is an official weekly newspaper of the Church that publishes articles on faith-promoting stories, missionary work, changes in international church leadership callings, General Conference, temple construction and dedications, special meetings and visits from international church leaders, members who live over 100 years or are married for over 70 years, and church growth.  The newspaper can be accessed online at www.ldschurchnews.com and is also available in print.  The LDS Church News was known as the Church News between 1943 and 1981.[1]

The LDS Church News has provided a wealth of information to missiology researchers for decades, providing both qualitative and quantitative data.  Archived articles online can be retrieved from as early as January 1st, 1988.[2]  The most complete data consists of demographic information on various international church leaders (general authorities, area authorities, temple presidents, and mission presidents) and newly sustained stake presidencies.  The Church publishes data on the age, nationality, years of service, and employment status of international church leaders but releases information only on age, years of service, and employment status for stake presidency members.  These data permit researchers to track various statistics among international church leaders such as assessing self-sufficiency of local leadership through calculating the percentage of native to foreign mission presidents within a given country, determining the frequency and prominence of church employees in ecclesiastical leadership positions, and comparing the number of general authorities and area authorities by country in relationship to the size of nominal LDS membership.  In addition to reporting information on new stake leaders, the LDS Church News also provides detailed information on the number and names of wards and branches in newly created stakes and what stakes, districts, or missions these units previously pertained to.  These data offer insights into congregational growth and other higher-quality measurements of numerical growth on a more local level.  The LDS Church News methodically publishes detailed articles on temple dedications and the formation and consolidation of missions and includes valuable data on various indicators of member activity and growth such as attendance figures for temple dedications and, at times, the number of stakes and districts within a newly created mission or temple district.

Other contributions from the LDS Church News to missiology researchers come from articles that provide a short synopsis of a particular area reaching a church growth milestone (such as a location reaching a certain number of stakes, the celebration of a church-growth related anniversary, the maturation of a district into a stake, the completion of a new meetinghouse, or the opening of a city or country to missionary work), articles that summarize and highlight aspects of humanitarian or development work, or articles on faith-promoting stories of ordinary members that coincidentally include quantitative data on various measures of growth or provide qualitative data on common situations and conditions that facilitate or deter growth.  For example, the LDS Church News published articles on the 75th anniversary of LDS missionary work in Brazil,[3] the creation of the 50th stake in Chile,[4] the dedication of several former Yugoslavian countries to missionary work,[5] the creation of the first stake in Mongolia,[6] the history of the Church in the Shetland Islands of Scotland,[7] visits from an LDS apostle to various countries in Asia and insights into cultural conditions,[8] a Bangladeshi Latter-day Saint beginning his mission,[9] and development projects in Zimbabwe.[10]  Many articles provide specific statistical information on the number of members serving full-time missions from an area, member activity rates, and interventions for mission outreach implemented by all levels of church administration.  Some articles that explore the growth of the Church in a particular country provide past membership and congregational data for sensitive and semi-sensitive countries where the Church generally does not release statistical data to the public such as Afghanistan,[11] Laos,[12] Nepal,[13] and Pakistan.[14]  A few articles have included information on more hypothetical and sensitive statistics and goals.  For example, the LDS Church News published an article on the creation of the first stake in Papua New Guinea that provided information on the goal for when to create a second stake in the country.[15]

The LDS Church News does not provide a complete picture of the Church's worldwide growth and has a times deemphasized negative developments.  Articles seldom include information on the closure and consolidation of stakes and congregations.  The LDS Church News announces newly created stakes and reorganized stake presidencies but does not announce when a stake is discontinued.  For example, the LDS Church News has published a special article for virtually every country when its first stake is organized yet did not publish any article on the closure of the sole LDS stake in Liberia in 2007.  There is little information on member activity and convert retention rates, especially in countries that experience the lowest convert retention such as in Eastern Europe, developed nations in East Asia, and Latin America.  Due to the focus on positive developments and downplay of negative developments, the LDS Church News has fueled many false ideas held by some Latter-day Saints in regards to the rate at which the Church grows, how much of the world's population is reached by the Church, the size and functioning of LDS congregations outside the United States, and the long-term disastrous effects of quota-driven, quick-baptism tactics on member activity rates and the public perception of the Church.  The publication of some articles that highlight these concerning issues and identify methods to prevent their reoccurrence is warranted to help correct many erroneous beliefs held by members, missionaries, and leaders worldwide pertaining to church growth and missionary work.


[1]  "Church News," Encyclopedia of Mormonism, retrieved 20 August 2012.    http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/EoM/id/4391

[2]  "Archives Search," LDS Church News, retrieved 20 August, 2012.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/archives/

[3]  Soli, Ana Claudia.  "Towering oak: 75 years of growth," LDS Church News, 22 January 2005.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/46751/Towering-oak-75-years-of-growth.html

[4]  Hill, Craig.  "Chile's 50th stake - a milestone capping 32 years of growth," LDS Church News, 12 November 1988.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/18324/From-around-the-World.html

[5]  Avant, Gerry.  "Elder Nelson pronounces blessings on six Balkan nations," LDS Church News, 23 September 2010.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/59902/Elder-Nelson-pronounces-blessings-on-six-Balkan-nations.html

[6]  Phillips, Elder James.  "First Stake in Mongolia is Organized," LDS Church News, 10 June 2009.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/57449/First-stake-in-Mongolia-is-organized.html

[7]  Baxter, David S.  "Shetland Islands has unique building," LDS Church News, 8 November 2003.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/44666/Shetland-Islands-has-unique-building.html

[8]  Stahle, Shaun D. "Few, but faithful," LDS Church News, 22 September 2007. http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/51061/Few-but-faithful.html

[9]  Bird, Randall C.  "Bangladeshi is eager to serve," LDS Church News, 4 August 2012.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/62591/Bangladeshi-is-eager-to-serve.html

[10]  Jensen, Elder Karl S.; Jensen, Sister Dixie.  "Self-employment workshops help participants find success," LDS Church News, 21 August 2004.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/46024/Self-employment-workshops-help-participants-find-success.html

[11]  "An island of peace in the middle of war," LDS Church News, 17 August 2009.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/57771/An-island-of-peace-in-the-middle-of-war.html

[12]  "Laos dedicated," LDS Church News, 25 March 2006.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/48673/Laos-dedicated.html

[13]  Klingler, Fay. "Himalayan setting for edification, service," LDS Church News, 19 July 2003. http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/44065/Himalayan-setting-for-edification-service.html

[14]  “Members impacted by 7.6 quake in Pakistan,” LDS Church News, 15 October 2005. http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/48008/Members-impacted-by-76-quake-in-Pakistan.html

[15]  Weaver, Sarah Jane.  "Faith leads to first Papua New Guinea stake," LDS Church News, 11 November 1995.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/26682/Faith-leads-to-first-Papua-New-Guinea-stake.html