|Subject:||Mormons in Denial about Low Activity Rate|
|Date:||Aug 13, 2008|
|Any Mormon who comes to church regularly can’t help
but notice that most members are invisible. This became painfully obvious to
me a few weeks after I had been called to be the ward membership clerk. One
day while sitting in the clerk’s office, I decided to find out what
percentage of the ward was active. I counted the names listed in the ward
directory of people that I knew, or at least had seen in church. I then
counted all the families, and divided those that showed up at church, at
least once in a while, by the total number of families listed. Hmmm… so many
people I had never met—not even once. I had attended the same ward for
thirteen years, so I felt qualified to conclude that slightly over sixty
percent of the ward members are ghosts, which means they are people I would
never see. I later made the mistake of referring to these ghosts as the
‘hard-core inactive.’ This label didn’t go over well with some members of
the ward family who, I guessed, were more in touch with the spirit than I
was. So I was corrected, and told that we’ve been asked to refer to the lost
sheep as the ‘not presently participating.’ Sorry, my mistake for venturing
outside of the Mormon lexicon.
So, I thought, the ‘not presently participating’ are out there having a good time, doing God knows what, while we faithful sit in meetings on our righteous asses year in-year out talking about ways to get them to come back to church. ‘Back’ to church? I saw no evidence they had ever been to church in the first place. For all I knew, these ‘members’ were just a figment of someone’s imagination.
One Sunday in High Priests Quorum, close to the end of my tenure as a believing Mormon, one of the councilors brought a list with him. It was a list of those Elders and High Priests who have not been attending, and we were supposed to tell what we knew about each one as he read down the list. Then he wanted us to think of ways to get them back to church so they could share the blessings that we worthless pieces of shit were hogging up for ourselves. He was kind enough to mention that the list was a ‘no contact’ list, and as he read the names I felt a kind of disconnectedness. Who are all these people? Only a couple of the names could I connect to a face. As he read, I gazed around the table at the faces of the glory-bound sons of bitches I knew only as Brother this or Brother that. I realized I hardly knew them either, and what was worse, they hardly knew me.
After Mr. councilor expressed his frustration at the size of the ever-burgeoning ‘leave me the fuck alone’ list, he asked for suggestions on what we, as the Lord’s servants, could do to bring these brethren back into full fellowship. Full fellowship? You mean, love and appreciate them for who they are, just like I am (not)? (I didn’t say this out loud.)
Someone mentioned that we should send flyers out to these guys, or perhaps a newsletter, so they can know what is happening in the quorum. I’d heard this suggestion a couple of time before over the years, and each time my gut feeling had been, ‘yeah, right that’ll work.’ After watching peoples’ eyes glaze over for a while, I boldly said that we should ask each of these individuals, in a non-threatening way, why they have chosen not to attend church. I added, that in order to find a solution to a problem you first have know what the problem is, and if we don’t ask, we’ll probably never know. Then I said that I thought sending out flyers would be a waste of time. We would just be spinning our wheels, waiting in vain for the day that the Godless bastards return to us, misty-eyed, their contrite hearts overflowing with gratitude (OK, I didn’t actually say this part). However, Brother Einstein, who came up with the flyer idea, must be psychic, because he looked at me derisively while shooting daggers out of his eyes.
Needless to say, my idea fell on deaf ears. I got the impression the High Priests didn’t want to actually turn the ghosts back into people. They just wanted to do their required hour in Quorum and go home. And I’ll bet if they didn’t have wives sitting in Relief Society, most of them would have left already.
The talk continues about ‘reactivating’ the inactive. If you tell a TBM that the church’s activity rate, averaged worldwide, is only thirty percent they might consider you a minion of the devil for thinking so negatively, or lacking faith. Many still believe the church is growing by ‘leaps and bounds.’ The site, www.cumorah.com, has statistics on church activity rates worldwide. Dr. David Stewart, its creator, also provides a link to his book, Law of the Harvest, in which gives detailed instruction on how to bring the inactive back into activity. It’s a pretty good book; I’ve read parts of it. However if the process Dr. Stewart, Mormon apologist, recommends could effect change, it would certainly be working by now. The reality is that active members are in the minority, and this minority is actively shrinking. One reason is that the lifestyle product the church offers is appealing to fewer and fewer people as the leadership increasingly oppresses its members, making greater demands on their time, and stifling all signs of individuality. Another reason is the internet, which provides easy access to real historical information, that once examined, makes the church’s official story tough to swallow. Active members would probably disagree with most of this. They are unable to see that the good ship lollypop is taking on water. They believe they can pray the disaffected back to church. The legion of inactive Mormons is eight million strong, and is composed of the indifferent, the enlightened, the hostile, the lazy, the disillusioned, and the offended. And if you want to know specifically why they don’t go to the Mormon church anymore… Just ask them.
|Subject:||I attended a ward where activity rate was about 10%|
|Date:||Aug 13 23:23|
|Most of the pews were empty. And the people who did
show up at church would sit towards the back or only on the right pews.
|Subject:||Sickening how they talk about everyone.......|
|Date:||Aug 13 23:27|
|I remember attending correlation meeting and everyone basically just gossiping about not only inactives, but everyone in the ward. I remember thinking, "this is really none of my business" when people would gossip about so-and-so who did this or won't attend or whatever. Petty!|
|Subject:||Activity rate in my mission was 5-10% (Chile, Santiago)|
|Date:||Aug 13 23:37|
|Thanks for the good read. Even here in moville wards aren't what they used to be in the 80's and 90's. When I visit my home ward where I grew up, it's mostly older families who are already empty nesters, or on the verge of emtying the nest and they barely fill just the chapel where when I was attending, we had 33 total priests (young men 16-17 years old). I know that SLC is no more exmo/nevermo than activemo. 30% sounds about right for world wide activity rate.|
|Subject:||I think flyers are a great idea!|
|Date:||Aug 13 23:44|
|I stopped attending 2 years ago. The reason I stopped
going was not because the ward members were self-righteous pricks, and it
was not because I learned the truth about Church history. No.
I stopped attending because they never sent me any pamphlets to let me know who was having a birthday and why LaVerl Smith has a testimonkey.
In fact I sit anxiously by my front door every Sunday just waiting for a flyer. As soon as I get a flyer I'll go running right back to the 3-hour borefest. (Unless the white, elderly male who brings the flyer is a self-righteous prick, then the deal is off)
|Subject:||I like your post, too.|
|Date:||Aug 13 23:48|
|Author:||Adult of god|
|I have a relative on a couples mission who said they
were to be teaching institute and re-activating the inactive.
As a confirmed (hardcore!) inactive, I didn't have the guts to remind her that people are quite content doing their Sunday brunches, hikes, laying around reading the paper and drinking a cup of good coffee or tea, playing with their kids (or spouse), etc. etc. etc. To budge them out of such mundane, lovely, human pleasures to sit through terminal boredom in SM was a fool's errand. And a sin.
|Subject:||Great post which has given me hope that truth will ultimately.........|
|Date:||Aug 14 00:02|
|penetrate the thickest of skulls. Let's admit, Mormon
church services are anything but inspiring. I've sat through some yawners
that would make death a welcome occurance. Empty, shallow, superstitious and
twisted teachings, time after time, over and over again. Brainwashing at
its' basest form. People are catching on and will continue to do so as time
goes on. The ship of God Almighty has sprung a leak and it's about to break
wide open. It looks as though they're going down, along with their prick of
There is nothing like sleeping in on a Sunday, relax and do as I please. Their restricted life has never appealed to me.
Again, great post.
|Subject:||ST.... isn't that was Sundays were made for? Coffee and sleepin in! n/t|
|Subject:||Sleeping at Church seems to be quite common..........|
|Date:||Aug 14 00:15|
|My elderly father and his wife ALWAYS attend church.
least sacrament meeting even or especially when they are
on vacation and visiting me. But I have heard from my TBM
sister that they sleep during the service. So I guess it's
just for show............they want to set a good example for
I am still smiling to think that my sister would tell me.
I was invited to attend with them. But I politely said
I had a big group coming for the barbecue and needed to
prepare the food. I was courteous and thanked my Dad.
I survived another family visit. TBMs were on their
best behavior and I was too.
But it does irk me that they have to run off to church
when they could have been with me.
|Subject:||...or they could just read this board.|
|Date:||Aug 14 00:24|
|Rather than bothering the inactive in their ward, they
could just come here if they want to find out why their product isn't
selling. But they don't really want to know, do they. 'Cause if they knew
what was wrong with their product, they might not want any of it either.
Then again, maybe they DO know why their product isn't selling.
|Subject:||Re: ...or they could just read this board.|
|Date:||Aug 14 00:31|
|If they want more people to come to church they might try to make it more interesting and spiritual. They could get rid of the block, give more power to local leaders, have fun activities,improve the speakers and music, stop teaching the same stuff over and over, get better teachers, stop trying to control everything members do, emphasize Jesus rather than Joseph Smith, downplay the BofM and the WofW and introduce some healthy competition between wards by letting people go where they want.Training leaders and getting rid of the generic chapels wouldn't hurt either.|
|Date:||Aug 14 01:00|
|The boring meetings must be a trigger for people to
think outside the "box"
Three hours? Are you high?
I could read half a well written book in that time.
I could walk six miles of creek front.
I could ponder the solar system, including the asteroid belt-failed planet?-and the comets.
I could watch a pro football game.
I could listen to Pink Floyd's greatest hits.
I could drive to San Francisco and back.
I could barbeque a tri tip roast.
I could watch several episodes of the Sopranos.
See what I mean?
|Subject:||I just got a pleading letter the other day...|
|Date:||Aug 14 01:26|
|Author:||Deenie, the dreaded single adult|
|Apparently, they have split the ward that I was
"assigned to;" I wouldn't know, firsthand----I've never been there!
Anyway, Bishop Eyedunno sent me this letter, stating that the new ward boundaries were essential, since the church was "growing by leaps and bounds." I do not know him. He does not know me. Nonetheless, he urged me (it was a form letter) to keep coming to church, even if I was separated from friends and loved ones by the new ward boundaries.
Of course, I filed the letter in my ever-handy circular file...
|Subject:||MadeGuy . . . this is singularly the MOST POWERFUL POST . . .|
|Date:||Aug 14 01:57|
|I have ever read on RfM in my 3+ years of
It brought tears to my eyes.
You NAILED it!!
|Subject:||No value from the Mormons|
|Date:||Aug 14 02:42|
|Made Guy's High Council experience and pragmatic
thinking (how dare you take a rational approach to solve the inactivity
problem - free thinking intellectual bastard - Packer and others would not
be happy with your line of thinking) speaks to one of the core issues the
LDS Church struggles with, namely how to provide value to the increasing
droves of "inactives."
No small wonder, Tommy Boy attempted to address this problem in his inaugural speech when he invited the "disaffected, offended" and some other inaccurate stereotypical label for non-attending baptized members to come back to church(refer back to short topic on Tommy's talk). Too late for me to put in the link.
The missionary movement of the 80's and 90's was a full scale assault to increase revenues and continue world domination, but the metrics topped off and people gradually commenced to stop sharing the godspell with their friends. For some reason, people weren't buying what mormons were selling and that was before the internet spike.
Never fear, Gordo took the reins and told people that the church was "raising the bar." He was gonna stand for something and get things done. By appearance standards there were some symbolic gains (McTemples, more stakes, and even a perpetual education fund). The new church programs and "growth" were a farce, though, and these initiatives mainly served and continue to serve the active members.
Apparently the conventional wisdom was and is IMO to parade around the local leadership, have them smile and keep raising the bar and assume that people will hurriedly run to jump over it - you know because the "church is true."
The problem is that average Joe member and inactive members coming to church sniff these actions out and consciously or unconciously conclude that the church isn't for them. In other words what the church offers isn't providing them any value/incentive to come on board.
A recently released bishop in my neck of the woods, in response to the Stake President's inquiry of what to do to bring people back to the fold, said "Reduce tithing to 5%." Many priesthood leaders laughed but this SP was not amused. He scowled and quickly transitioned to other topics.
Denial is the operative word here. True believing members of the LDS church and especially its leadership actually believe/think, I mean "know", that the church provides value to its members. Its unfortunate the value they ascribe to church membership manifests itself in the form of inflated egos of dudes who get a title and a bully pulpit.
The real value of church membership is infrequent attendance or not being required to do a bunch of useless stuff. The opportunity costs of not attending the LDS church are so low, that people can't resist. Inactives know that the LDS experience/value is pretty much non-existent. I'd have to say that inactives and ex-mormons may be the most blessed people of this generation.
|Subject:||Thank you for this excellent article, MadeGuy, and a new LDS phrase for our collection.|
|Date:||Aug 14 02:47|
|You captured the futility I have felt, in my various
church positions, to try to reason with these people, to try to convince the
leaders to truly connect with and reach out to the individual person.
It is heartening to discover someone else agrees that the inactive members are just ghostly numbers on a list somewhere, out of sight, out of mind.
You have given us a first-hand witness that the LDS leaders are NOT INTERESTED IN WHY PEOPLE LEAVE. They only want to somehow manipulate, force, threaten, or cajole us back into the fold, on their terms only. They try to control us, but we know that they have nothing to offer us that is positive. They don't understand the concept of positive reinforcement, and most certainly don't teach, preach, or practice the concept of "love."
You have added another LDS euphamistic re-definition buzz-slogan to our list, along with:
"the disaffected, offended, critics and transgressors",
"milk before meat",
"not presently participating" might be my favorite of the whole bunch!!
|Subject:||I was thinking so to, and I have good use for the new phrase:|
|Date:||Aug 14 04:45|
|"So are you LDS?" can now be answered by "I am not presently participating" with an ironic, sardonic smile. Priceless.|
|Subject:||Thirty percent active? No way! Three reasons...|
|Date:||Aug 14 04:20|
|1) I was an Elders' Quorum clerk in Spain and our
activity rate was less than ten percent of the people on our list. That was
in Madrid, the biggest city.
2) I went to Portugal for a vacation in the countryside and the branch presidency (the mishies) told me their activity rate was less than three percent. There were ten people that sunday: me, the mishies, the village idiot and a family of British tourists. That was in the rural heartland.
3) A friend went on a mission in Brazil and saw a ward with a million inhabitants, two-thousand baptized members still known to be living in the area, less than ten of them known to be active in any ward. Less than half a percent! He saw four more such wards on his mission, none had an activity rate of more than two percent.
Thirty percent? Maybe in a state bordering Utah, but nowhere else I'd think.
|Subject:||Re: Mormons in Denial about Low Activity Rate|
|Date:||Aug 14 05:30|
|Excellent post! Here are some articles from the past
the support your point.
"The claim that Mormonism is the fastest-growing faith in the world has been repeated so routinely by sociologists, anthropologists, journalists and proud Latter-day Saints as to be perceived as unassailable fact.
The trouble is, it isn't true."
"From their front porches, Glen Spencer and Marvin Mower have observed the transformation of Salt Lake City's Avenues neighborhood. In 1953, these men, now in their 80s, helped construct The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building at the corner of K Street and Ninth Avenue, which housed two congregations, or wards.
And 51 years later, they watched as crews demolished the white concrete structure that once served as the heart of their predominantly LDS community.
Declining membership forced the LDS Church to redraw boundaries in 2003, consolidating three stakes, which oversee wards, into two. The Eagle Gate Stake, where LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley attended church, no longer exists, leaving the Emigration and Ensign stakes to split the avenues along H Street. In the redesign, the LDS Church decided to abandon the Ninth Avenue building."
"Her father immersed her in LDS Church baptismal waters at the standard age of 8.
Within three years, Tamara's family stopped attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feeling unwelcome in their new congregation.
And in 1994 at the age of 23, she married a man who was never baptized a Mormon. She drifted away to a new home, with a new last name, in a new neighborhood where no one realized that her name remains on the membership rolls.
Tamara joined the ranks of Utah's lost Mormons - a sizable group."
|Date:||Aug 14 07:10|
|My family is officially still "on the records" -
hopefully not for long.
Although the missionaries never just stop by anymore (because I asked them not to)...and we no longer get the LONG condescending letter each month from the HT (because we asked that he spend time with his family instead of crafting a letter to us)...I STILL get the stupid end of the month RS letter. Sent to me with no return address.
Thanks for your post! :-)
Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church www.exmormon.org