REACHING THE NATIONS
Growth of the Church — Facts and Myths
DATES: April 11 (Villa Park) and April 12 (La Canada – Flintridge).
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
We are pleased to have as our April 2014 Miller Eccles speakers, Dr. David Stewart and Matthew Martinich, authors of a new Church almanac that provides an in-depth look at membership, retention, activity and much more. David and Matt’s work was profiled recently in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune that can be found here.
Chances are we’ve all heard someone say, “We are the fastest growing church in the world; sometime during this century we’ll be bigger than the Catholics.” Indeed, some 30 years ago, renown non-Mormon sociologist Rodney Stark published a groundbreaking article called “The Rise of a New World Faith” in which he suggested the conceivable possibility that there could be more than 265 million Mormons by 2080 and that our numbers could rival other world faiths such as Islam, Buddhism, historic Christianity, and Hinduism. In 2001 the U.S. News and World Report ran a cover story about “The Mormon Moment” in which it stated, “By almost any measure, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the world’s richest and fastest-growing religious movements.” Other publications have made similar observations.
What are the facts surrounding Church expansion? Are we growing faster than any other religion? Where is this growth occurring? Where is it not? What are the reasons for growth or stagnation, as the case may be? What are the results of various programs the Church has undertaken to stimulate growth?
Dr. David Stewart, who served a mission in Russia, and Matthew Martinich, who served in South Korea, have made it their mission to investigate and analyze the growth of the Church and to determine where the truths and myths are. Their work culminated this year in the publication of their Church almanac, Reaching the Nations, a prodigious two-volume work based on careful analysis of official reports, as well as thousands of unofficial reports from members and leaders throughout the globe.
David G. Stewart, Jr., MD, is an orthopedic surgeon in Las Vegas, Nevada who was named as one of Las Vegas’s top doctors each year from 2010 through 2013. David is fluent in several languages has conducted research and published papers on culture, church growth, and mission outreach in over thirty-five countries. He has also written on the sociology of religion and is author of Law of the Harvest: Practical Principles of Effective Missionary Work and coauthor of Reaching the Nations: International Church Growth Almanac, as well as various articles and book chapters.
Matthew Martinich, MA, is a behavioral psychotherapist and clinical psychology doctoral student in Colorado Springs, Colorado who provides treatment to families court ordered for mental health services due to child abuse and neglect findings. He has conducted extensive research within the past seven years examining how contextual factors and LDS missionary tactics have influenced growth rates in the LDS Church. He maintains a blog called “LDS Church Growth” that provides updates on growth and missionary developments worldwide. Matt is coauthor of Reaching the Nations: International Church Growth Almananc and has written hundreds of case studies and other articles that summarize, analyze, and predict LDS growth trends.
Posted by Morris Thurston