Monday, May 19, 2008

United States Church Membership


This graph represents 9 of the 25 largest churches in the United States starting from 1990 to 2006. This includes the total membership of each church within the United States and their membership growth or decline. The LDS church indicates steady church growth, regardless of activity levels, within the United States while all other churches have shown steady decline or slight growth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is now the 4th largest church in the United States.

References: This data was mostly collected from ARDA http://www.thearda.com/ and National Councel of Churches (http://www.ncccusa.org/). The most recent figures for 2005 and 2006 were collected directly from each churches' statistical webpages.

Last updated: April 14, 2008 Note:

This information is created from a member of the Mormon faith and is biased towards the mormon church.

Personal interpretation of the graph
Only two churches (Seventh Day Adventists & Jehovah Witnesses) report their membership as members who are active and attending their meetings in the organization. Inactive or non practicing members of these organizations are not counted in the total membership. These two churches are also the only organizations that show a slight growth in the United States. Their membership is around 1 million and barely reach the top 25 churches.

The remaining seven organizations report accurate membership numbers within the organization and include total membership regardless of activity rates. Not all churches are included in this graph but will be added as time permits and when churches update their statistical data. This allows an accurate comparison of the health and direction of each church.

The Community of Christ is the RLDS church that claims no ties to the LDS church. Membership recently fell to 200,000 worldwide. They have an operating budget of $27 million. Agreeingly, the Community of Christ considers itself a seperate church and not a breakaway from the Mormon Church.

The only church experiencing growth is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in terms of membership. In the year 2000, it surpassed the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and became the 4th largest church in the United States.

Based on this graph and the average rate of change in the United Methodist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the LDS church is expected to surpass the United Methodist Church in the year 2017 and become the 3rd largest church in the United States. This will occur only if the declining rates of the United Methodist Church and the growth rates of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stay constant as with the past. The LDS church is already larger then the United Methodist Church internationally. and grows at a greater rate internationally.
The 2nd largest church in the United States is the Southern Baptist Convention (USA). This organization has 16,306,246 members. The total membership within the church declined in 2007 (not shown in the graph to save space). A report released in May 2008 showed that its membership is 2 to 3 times lower then the actual membership. This is because duplicate records are created when members move or switch congregations. However, this membership does not accurately portray the organization in relation to this graph. While, the other churches are united in one faith, The Southern Baptist Convention is not united in any doctrine or belief. The Southern Baptist Convention (USA) is an organization made up of thousands of individual baptist churches. All they need to do is apply and pay fees and the church is added to the convention. They do not have the desire for their doctrine or beliefs to unite. There is no unification within the organization. Each individual church has its own doctrine and own organization. They are as much divided as themselves as the Mormon church is with the Baptists or the Baptists are with the Catholics. An example are the beliefs of Mike Huckabee and Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr (although not members of the Southern Baptist Convention). My belief is they are so dis-united among themselves is it the same as what Christ often warned of (Mark 3: 24-26) in the scriptures. Since they are divided and fighting among themselves, I would not count them as a whole organization but simply thousands of churches only agreeing on a single name.

This leaves us with the growth of the LDS church and the Catholic church (largest church in the United States). I won't discuss the comparison here. A lot of critism the LDS church receives is that the LDS church counts inactives as members and that shouldn't be so. This is of much spiritual and doctrinal discussion (which will not be addressed here). A great discussion is the fact that other churches do the same thing for statistical purposes by counting members who might be inactive or non attending. Not all churches monitor activity rates or publish that information (such as the LDS church) but by comparison, the LDS church continued to grow dispite membership deaths and excommunications. If critism is shown in the LDS church, why is it not addressed in the Lutheran Churches or the other branches of christianity. The volume of decline is staggering, within these churches, even without taking into account their inactivity levels. Yet, nothing is mentioned nor discussed about their statistical reports.

8 comments:

Dave & Shandie said...

I respectively wish to comment on this blog. It is difficult to truly accept the membership numbers given by the Mormon church regarding their membership because a non-practicing, non-believing ex-Mormon is still counted as a member until they formally ask to be removed from their databases or are excommunicated. I stand as one of these "members" that the church counts yet I have not seen the inside of a Mormon church in years. I am positive that the actual number of practicing or active Mormons would be significantly lower than the numbers projected on your graph.

Phil said...

Ya, so does 81% of all the other churches. Its more of a doctrinal issue also.

Glow wings said...

the graph was not legible for me to read

Phil said...

try clicking on the graph

Roger Pack said...

now include a version with the roman catholic :) Just kidding. Fascinating graph. To dave&shandie : hope you come back some time :P
-=R

Anonymous said...

Take a step back Dave & Shandie... You and other "members" of the LDS Church may not be active, but the Pew Research Center shows the church still has the highest activity rates of most churches. Take a look sometime at http://ldschurchgrowth-us-canada.blogspot.com/ It shows 3-19 new LDS congregations being organized every month. I can also tell you ward sizes are increasing until they're almost unmanageable, before they get devided.

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