A steady growth pattern has continued for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with about a million new members now being added every three years or less.
The National Council of Churches published its 2007 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, where it listed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the fourth-largest religion in the United States. However, the Church itself makes no statistical comparisons with other churches and makes no claim to be the fastest-growing Christian denomination.
“The Church is unusual in that it creates membership records and updates them constantly,” said Church statistician Glen Buckner, who is also a member of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. “We believe we have a scriptural mandate (Moroni 6:4) to keep records in the Church, particularly (those) of our members, and we go to great lengths to try to ensure their accuracy.”
Like other faiths, the Church has varying degrees of growth among its members throughout the world. For example, the Church shows relatively slow growth in Northern Europe, where many other churches are declining. It has steady and manageable growth in the United States and is expanding rapidly in Africa and South America.
Membership records aside, a good indicator of robust Church growth is its chapel-building program. There are currently 8,254 chapels internationally, which shows a 10.0 percent growth rate over the past five years. That trend has also proven true in the United States, where there are 6,361 chapels, or a 9.6 percent growth rate for the same time period. Many of these chapels accommodate several congregations.
“Membership growth is a challenge but a welcome one. During 2006, the number of congregations increased by more than 250 congregations in the United States alone, and we need to accommodate that growth,” said Buckner. “It’s definitely a financial investment, but we have many new members coming into the Church who need a place to worship.”