21 Reasons It Doesn’t Matter if The Church is True

Mormon church meetinghouse stylized graphic

A lot of people aren’t looking for a true church, they’re looking for a good church. They want to be part of an organization that is fundamentally sound and makes its members and the world around it better.

I’m not trying to say the Church is perfect. But we so often get stuck focusing on its minor faults and its truth claims that we often miss what an outstanding organization it simply is. Here are 21 reasons we are lucky to be members.

1) Takes Care of Their Own

The Church does good by those who are members. Through fast offerings, bishop’s storehouses, and job services, along with ward councils and home teachers to make sure no one slips through the cracks, the Church is wildly efficient at caring for its own members.

2) Does Good in the Community

The Church and its wards regularly serve at the community level. Whether it’s participating in local service projects, working at local food banks, or organizing with the new JustServe.org website, Latter-day Saints strive to make where they live a better place.

3) Does Good Around the World

White teacher with black studentBut not only is the Church focused locally, they keep their perspective worldwide. They are regularly praised for their quick response to disasters. The Church’s clean-water initiative has helped over four million people in Africa alone. The Church itself is actually present in more than 137 countries doing good in its communities.

4) Has Long-term Security

If you’re looking at an organization to do good. You’re likely looking for one that’s going to be around for the long-haul.

Through its wise investments, The Church of Jesus Christ is among the most financially secure institutions on Earth. You can be certain that your efforts there will have a long-term ripple.

5) Is Highly Efficient Volunteerism

When I donate to most organizations, I like to know that little money goes to overhead. Because of the church’s unpaid ministry and bought-and-paid-for infrastructure, the Church is incredibly efficient with their resources, and provide a lot of volunteer bang for your buck. You can hardly do better.

6) Responds Well to Criticism

The Church asks every single member to sustain it’s leadership every six months. And anyone who disagrees is invited to speak to their leaders.

The Church also responds well to outside criticism. While the Church is frequently the subject of mockery, the response is almost always of good humor.

Mormon congregation raising hands7) Is Open to Truth

If there is anything virtuous lovely or of good report or praiseworthy we seek after these things. The Church not only admits to but publishes documents and essays that open doubt about its truth claims. As Henry B. Eyring’s father told him, “In the Church, you don’t have to believe anything that isn’t true.”

8) Doesn’t Randomly Change to Keep Up With the Times

Many organizations are constantly worried about trying to keep up with the times and are often chasing whatever the trend du jour may be.

The Church, on the other hand, changes all at once and together. This provides both benefits of not chasing after every trend but also meeting the challenges of our time.

9) Has Moral Courage

It can be difficult to stand up for deeply unpopular positions simply because they are correct. But the Church regularly does so. On issues of chastity, alcohol, refugees, child and spousal abuse, and pornography the Church has led the moral charge while others debate and fight over what is right.

two young men conversing10) Physically Healthier

Members of the Church are physically healthier. Increased life expectancy, lower cancer rates, lower heart disease rates are simply some of the many health advantages that LDS teachings bring to its members.

11) Mentally Healthier

While some suggest otherwise, the research shows that Latter-day Saints also have advantages in mental health. Both Mormon men and women are less likely to be depressed than Americans in general.

Mormon teens are more optimistic and less likely to commit suicide. And overall the more active you are in the LDS church the more meaning you find in your life.

12) More Educated

Latter-day Saints have a rich theology around education, three world-class Universities, and many initiatives to increase education around the world.

And unlike virtually every other demographic Latter-day Saints who are more committed to the Church are more educated.

students with books13) Self-Reliant

While the Church is fantastic at helping members who need it (see point 1), the Church’s teachings also help more members be self-reliant.

Mormons are less likely to be in lower income brackets, and much more likely to be middle class.

14) Prepared for Emergencies

Not only are members more self-reliant in the day to day, they are more prepared for when the worst comes. The institutional church does this with its financial stability, but individual members are also more likely to save for a rainy day, have emergency supplies, and food storage.

15) Connected to Their Heritage

Latter-day Saints are much more connected to their ancestors. While this is to perform religiously significant rituals, it has impressive secondary effects.

Knowing your family history helps children moderate the effects of stress and increases their self-confidence among other benefits.

LDS youth on pioneer trek16) Provides Awesome Stories

Stories are the bedrock of a culture. And Mormons have great stories. They continue to tell the Biblical stories and preserve the tradition of early Christian pioneers. Then add the stories of the Book of Mormon and 19th-century pioneers.

Plus each new generation of prophets brings a new batch of updated stories of righteous living.

17) Come from Many Backgrounds

The LDS Church is growing. While many religious groups come from a similar religious background, just about every Mormon congregation will have many converts who come from many different religions, races, abilities, and countries.

Both the number of Mormons and the number of Mormon congregations are growing rapidly, and just about every Latter-day Saint knows many converts in their local congregation.

18) Are Happy

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are happy. Latter-day Saints are the happiest people in the entire country, and this is not just self-reporting. The Gallup poll measured happiness across six well-being indexes.

girl with lady in wheelchair19) Promotes Pro-Social Behaviors

When University of Pennsylvania psychologists wanted to find out why Mormons performed so well on well-being metrics, they discovered how connected we are to other people.

While many people are becoming more and more individualistic, the researchers found ten beliefs and practices of Latter-day Saints that make them more empathic and caring about those around them.

20) Creates Social Connection

This pairs well with point 18. The Church creates both a local and a worldwide community.

In local wards and branches, connections are made through socials and auxiliaries. Home and visiting teaching means even the most vulnerable are connected to the body of Christ.

21) Provides Family Support

Mormons are well known for their emphasis on family. But the Church puts its work where its theology is. Youth are taught from the time they are three.

Not only do they learn moral lessons, they develop their talents, writing, speaking, and planning skills. They are taught both during Sunday lessons and as they grow programs like Cub Scouts and Youth Activities.

 

As we discuss the Church and weigh its value, let’s keep in mind just how valuable it is as an organization.

Christopher D. Cunningham, the LDS.net content director, loves emphatically celebrating his son Albus’ normal healthy development, writing about the Church of Jesus Christ, finding the middle ground on most controversies, and using Western Family generic brand lip balm. Christopher is a proud graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, and a resident of Lockhart, Texas. He is a longtime supporter of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • Jordan

    Christopher –

    You seem to forget that though many of your points above have merit, they do so only when applied in a VERY general context. Let’s unpack some of this shall we?

    You state: “Sure, the Church doesn’t change its positions indiscriminately to accommodate every criticism, but they deal with that criticism with compassion, maturity, and class.”

    When there isn’t a punishment that the Church can mete out in response to some perceived insult, i.e the Book of Mormon play, then sure, they’ll keep quiet. However, if one of their members dare share criticism of a policy that negatively impacts them or those they love in a real and very personal way, they are often investigated or called in by their local judge in Zion to defend themselves. Many times as you must well know, such instances result in that individual being disfellowshipped or excommunicated. This is extremely petty, definitely not mature, and absolutely classless.

    You State: “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are happy. Latter-day Saints are the happiest people in the entire country”

    No they aren’t. Jews are the happiest and it states that pretty clearly in your own posted link. If we are to look at polls to determine what church we should join, shouldn’t people choose the one at the top of the list? Also, this poll ONLY applies to members of the Church in this country. As most of it’s membership lies outside of the US, I’m not sure it’s applicable to the church as a whole as you’ve represented here.

    You posit: The Church; Is Open to Truth

    No, it isn’t. It excommunicated Jeremy Runnels, who’s only mission was to get answers to the very real questions regarding the Church’s foundational truth claims. It did publish essays which, you can only find on LDS.org if you know that they are called essays. These essays use double speak and contradict themselves, some multiple times within a couple of sentences. Also, it’s unclear as to why the 1832 account written in Josephs hand wouldn’t be considered canon. It is logical to think that if Joseph saw both God and Jesus, he would have clearly stated so, in this the earliest documented account. Which is completely trinitarian in nature by the way. The story continued to be embellished for years to incorporate Josephs own changing view of the godhead.

    You posit: The Church; Provides Awesome Stories.

    This is subjective, and awesome stories can be found in any culture throughout the world. I’m not sure why you’ve added this to your list. To think that a “Awesome Stories” is a reason to belong to the Church, even if it’s not true, is incredibly obtuse. You’ve a very limited world view here. Do you not think other cultures, religions or groups of people have stories that could be faith promoting? Wouldn’t that equally be a reason for those individuals to remain in their faith?

    You posit: The Church Members Are(?); Prepared for Emergencies

    This is a generalization in the extreme, and one again that applies mostly only within the US. I have lived in wards all over the United States, and maybe 1/10th have any food storage or have invested in any sort of preparedness. Again, I’m not sure why you use this in your list… The Branch Dividians were well prepared for emergencies.

    I could spend a couple ours on the rest of your points but, mostly I’d like to look at your statement “this article is for my neighbors who feel isolated and looking for a community. They’ve never thought to wonder what a true church is”

    This is disingenuous to say the least, as the Church itself promotes the LDS faith as the one true Church with the most correct book in all of history. Regardless of what you feel you’re offering your friends, they will have questions, and to not be up front about those questions seems like a bait and switch. The problems inherent in the foundational truth claims of the Church can not be ignored for the sake of finding a “comfortable place”. If that’s what you’re telling your neighbors, you’re doing them an incredible disservice.

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      Jordan, thanks for the thoughtful response.

      1) I addressed your concern with another poster. I think your description of what it takes to lead to disfellowship is not entirely accurate. And those who are disfellowshipped are far from sincere people questioning a policy.

      2) The happiest people are the most devote Jews, but if you take into account the distribution of members in each of the devotion categories you get to my number. Many more Mormons categorize themselves as devote, so they are at the happier level.

      3) Runnels received answers to his questions many times. If you believe his only mission was to get answers you weren’t paying close attention to his work over the past many years.

      4) It is subjective. So are many things. Other groups also do good around the world. This is not a list of good things that are entirely exclusive to Mormons.

      5) You may be right about this point. I’d be interested in seeing data on this question as compared to others in society.

      At your last point, I am upset. I’m disingenuous that people are looking for a good church? Perhaps you’re so single-minded that you don’t realize that people value other things. The church’s foundational truth claims are extraordinary. Also they’re true. Joining the Church does require confronting it’s truth claims, but it’s not always the main appeal.

  • Chris Y

    To be honest, based on these criteria, it seems that the Seventh Day Adventist religion is the place to be as they are superior in almost every aspect:

    – they’re healthier both physically and mentally
    – their service dwarfs Mormonisms with their hospitals, medical clinics and schools across the world
    – they are more diverse (even in their leadership)
    – heck, they are even transparent with how they spend their member’s contributions

    I guess my point is that yes, at the end of the day, truth claims matter most because other’s “fruits” are better sometimes.

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      This is interesting. I have some basic knowledge of SDAs but your post interests me in learning more. Also, it’s clear that the question of whether or not the Church is true is an important question. The title is clearly meant to attract an audience. And so far it’s seemed to have worked. But I think it’s best understand “Reasons it doesn’t matter that the Church is true” . . . to the relevant question of the article. Obviously whether the church is true or not matters both to many people, and on an eternal basis.

  • P. Bill

    One big reason why I feel your article is pointless and why it does matter whether the truth claims of the church are correct:

    Because the church teaches that they, through the leaders, receive all of God’s knowledge for all of humanity. Therefore if you don’t believe the church leaders then the rest of the members consider you an apostate, and even though the church sometimes tell’s members not to they will still shun and leave their family members who don’t belive in the church 100%.

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      I’m sorry that when you rejected your family’s faith they were hurt. But geez couldn’t you kind have expected that. When someone rejects a shared value system it makes communication more difficult. And as you mentioned the Church has been active in making sure that members do not shun those who leave the faith.

  • It seems that other Mormons believe it’s a bit more important that The Church be considered true:

    “Well, it’s either true or false. If it’s false, we’re engaged in a great fraud. If it’s true, it’s the most important thing in the world. Now, that’s the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true.” – Gordon Hinckley, President, Prophet, Seer, Revelator

  • It seems that other Mormons believe it’s a bit more important that The Church be considered true:

    “Well, it’s either true or false. If it’s false, we’re engaged in a great fraud. If it’s true, it’s the most important thing in the world. Now, that’s the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true.”

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      Justin, I agree that the truth of the Church is essential. It’s also not what this article is about.

      • If we accept Hickley’s premise that it is either the most important thing in the world, or a fraud, you’re suggesting that, even if we prove that it is false, and therefore a fraud, we remain part of a fraudulent organization? Donating time, money, and effort to the fraudulent organization that it may continue to spread its fraudulent message? To what end? Would our time not be better spent with other charitable organizations that don’t have the extreme inefficiencies of a Church which spends far more on buildings and building maintenance than on charity?

      • If you gave money to No More Homeless Pets for years and years, because you really believed in preventing dog euthanasia, but later found out that they really spent the money on preventing kidney stones in elephants, would you be upset? Would you continue to donate money? Preventing kidney stones in elephants is a good thing, right?

  • Lewis Craig

    I’m not pleased with the title of the article. That the Church is true does matter. I know people outside the Church who do many of the things listed, but for our eternal salvation and that of others the truth of the gospel is paramount.

    Also, as an active member of the Church, think some of the author’s responses to comments are condescending. He is defensive rather than trying to engage those who criticize his article in a more positive way.

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      I’m sorry you don’t appreciate my mode of engagement Lewis. The criticism of the article are from a perspective of people who are trying to attack the premise of the article. They have no interest in engaging. The answers seem condescending because the attacks are disingenuous.

      I welcome you to engage these questions in a more sincere way. But please don’t give their tired criticisms more credence than they deserve.

  • Ethan Smith

    An organization that is “open to truth” doesn’t tell its members to “cut themselves off immediately and completely from the proselytizing efforts of those who have lot their faith” (a recent address from Elder Clayton) thus ensuring intense division among families and even spouses. It doesn’t warn people to avoid “mysterious or complicated information” as Elder Uchtdorf recently suggested. The consequences of losing faith in the LDS church are so severe from social and family perspectives that my friends and family openly refuse to even hear my reasons for concern. Why shouldn’t they when the leadership advises them to?

    The fact is, Alma 32 is not truly believed. If it was, people would have no problem looking at both sides of the issues, and hearing out their friends and family members. Why does Alma 32 only work in one direction? It’s because truth is not truly a priority. Belief in current dogma is reigns king.

    The church has a rich history of actively covering up information that isn’t faith promoting. It began in the early 80’s when they released Leonard Arrington as church historian, moved the historians away from headquarters over to BYU for the next 25 years, restricted access to the historical archives, and then had Boyd Packer go to BYU and give his “Mantle is Greater Than The Intellect” talk in which he in no uncertain terms tells CES teachers and faculty that they are not to tell the whole truth, and threatens that their salvation is at risk if they do. The new LDS.org essays are in many ways a step backwards. They’ve been forced to admit more than they have in the past, but the essays are simply another attempt to control the information. They give members enough to make them think they know the issues so they won’t look elsewhere, but they dishonestly omit a lot of basic information. I’ll give just one example since the author here requested examples from another poster. The essay about the Book of Abraham omits the very basic and important piece of evidence that there are 3 (not one, but three) manuscripts from Joseph’s scribes that have the characters from the Book of Breathings in one column, and the text of the Book of Abraham in the other–providing powerful evidence that they believed the Book of Abraham was on the Breathings text. This commission represents blatant dishonesty on the part of the church.

    I’m sorry, but suggesting the church is “open to truth” is just not true. It is an unhealthy place to be once you’ve come to realize that many core claims are not what they claim to be. Is it true that “in the church you don’t have to believe anything that isn’t true?” Sure, but you just have to know that you won’t be allowed to go to the temple, or be allowed to serve in most callings. You may be intimidated by local priesthood leaders or subject to church discipline. Families are divided intensely.

    I’m not trying to be nasty here, but it doesn’t help the many who are hurting when you try to pretend that things are other than they really are.

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      I think you’re demonstrating what I mentioned to a previous poster. Those who wish to attack the Church aren’t comfortable with the question of whether the Church is good. Instead, they retreat to the same script they’re comfortable with. Your insinuation that they’re not “open to truth” is that they don’t advertise those positions that actively attack their truth claims. Not really shocking. Some administrative changes from 30 years ago, and some out of context quotes.

      The church has a culture of truth seeking. Rarely a week goes by where I don’t hear some church source ask us to seek for the truth. You seem upset because you rejected the deepest beliefs of your loved ones and they don’t like that, and they disagree with you about what the truth is. I’m sorry.

      • Ethan Smith

        Chris, did you delete my reply?

        • Christopher D. Cunningham

          I deleted one reply a couple hours ago with some language most of our readers wouldn’t approve of. If that was yours, yes. Otherwise no. Also we have to approve a first comment, so it took a few minutes to approve your first one, and by then you had submitted the same comment several times, so I deleted a few of the duplicates.

          We have a spam system. It never catches replies, since we accepted the first response. But occasionally it’ll catch a sincere first comment. We sometimes need to go in and find it and approve it.

          I disagree with you, but as long as you don’t swear or call members of the Church stupid for believing then you’re good.

          • Ethan Smith

            Funny, my comment showed up, then disappeared. It was essentially this:

            You can’t claim a culture of truth seeking if you simultaneously discourage people from hearing both sides of an issue. In no other context would this be considered a reliable way to arrive at the truth of an issue. Only in religion is it acceptable to openly refuse to even hear anything that might challenge your current views. It is because belief in current dogma, not truth, is the priority. Why does Alma 32 not work both ways? Why can it only be trusted in one direction? Truth does not fear investigation and open discussion, it relishes it.

            What you dismiss as “administrative changes” is far more serious than that. It was active censorship. It was an affront to personal agency. Anyone who reads Packer’s talk “the mantle is greater than the intellect” will see that a position was actively adopted to try to keep people from hearing the full story–even with threats against salvation. It was the approach the church chose to take. The essays today are still not truly acknowledging the depths of the issues, and I’ve provided you with one example of this.

  • Cole Duke

    You should read President Hinckley’s talk from October 2002 “The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith”. Here are a few excerpts:

    Is this Church an educational institution? Yes. We are constantly and endlessly teaching, teaching, teaching in a great variety of circumstances. Is it a social organization? Indeed. It is a great family of friends who mingle together and enjoy one another. Is it a mutual aid society? Yes. It has a remarkable program for building self-reliance and granting aid to those in distress. It is all of these and more. But beyond these it is the Church and kingdom of God established and directed by our Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the risen Lord Jesus Christ, to bless all who come within its fold.

    We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith.

    When I was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he asked me if I actually believed that. I replied, “Yes, sir. That’s the miracle of it.”

    That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      I don’t think there’s anything here that disagrees with President Hinckley’s remarks. We can have joy in the value of the church beyond it’s truth. We can have joy in its goodness.

  • The Church “responds well to criticism.”

    I wonder how Jeremy Runnells, John Dehlin, and Kate Kelly feel about this claim. The September Six?

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      I’m not sure I understand. Do you think that the way to respond well to criticism is to welcome your most vocal critics into the places where they can harm you the most? The critics you listed openly, regularly, vehemently opposed the church. They persuaded other people to leave the church and oppose it. On the other hand, the church did these people no harm except separating themselves from them. They never embarrassed them or criticized them publicly.

      • “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” – President J. Reuben Clark

        It seems to me that, if you seek truth, you welcome questions, criticism, evidence, and arguments, public or otherwise. That’s how science works. You don’t throw a colleague out of the laboratory because they point out a flaw in your experiment.

        • Christopher D. Cunningham

          I think you’re right. I think the church does well on those metrics. I don’t think the critics you listed rise to that level.

  • James

    Been a member for 40 years and I gave a lot more to the church than it ever gave me.

    I find most of these “facts” listed here to be false (They don’t deal well with criticism at all for example)

    Do your homework before your baptism.

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      You’re welcome to debate any of the points you disagree with.

      You didn’t provide any reasons why you think they don’t deal well with criticism, but let me address your concern a little bit.

      We live in a world where many are scared of insulting religious minorities. No such fear exists about Latter-day Saints. Recently a major Broadway production insulted our faith for hours. The church’s response, a shrug. We bought space in the playbill, we send missionaries to pass out Book of Mormons and take pictures outside the theaters.

      When people brought up concerns about church history online, egged on by trolls twisting the facts, the church responded by opening up their historical resources. Publishing well-publicized essays that detail many unflattering elements of its past for the purpose of setting the record straight.

      When agitators about church policy trespassed at general conference the Church sent out a representative to speak to each one of them individually.

      And any member can at any time bring any concern to their leaders without fear of any consequences.

      Sure, the Church doesn’t change its positions indiscriminately to accommodate every criticism, but they deal with that criticism with compassion, maturity, and class.

  • Dustin

    Nice segway to the post internet age where the evidence against the church’s truth claim have robbed members of belief.

    Buuuuuuut let’s go ahead and keep personally sacrificing our resources (time and money) and experiences (2 years during prime of life, stress of not doing enough) for the Utah corp and teaching our children to do the same.

    Makes sense.

    • Christopher D. Cunningham

      Poor Dustin. The church’s membership continues to grow. Its area of strength strategy continues to successfully build the church both in the US and abroad. There are more active members, more congregations, and more stakes than in history.

      The internet is helping the gospel spread, and sure it also allows a few noisy apostates to saber-rattle, but your internet age narrative is demonstrably untrue.

      This article isn’t to combat noisy antis reading off the same twenty-year old script. They’ve been refuted many times over. No this article is for my neighbors who feel isolated and looking for a community. They’ve never thought to wonder what a true church is. They’re looking for a good church. They’re looking for an organization about which they can be proud. They’re looking for a way to become better, happier people. And we’ve got one of those.

      So while some members are busy refuting over and over again the same tired nonsense. I thought maybe it was time to start a different conversation. And from the comments we’ve gotten so far, it’s clear you’re not happy about it, you don’t have the script ready for this conversation, so you’re desperate to change the topic back. Sorry, the Church is good. It’s also true, but we can talk about that another time.

      • David

        Okay, you’ve mostly convinced me to join the Catholics.

        The effort to separate the true from the good for curious individuals who don’t think there actually is a ‘true church’ will most likely face challenges when they face the constant mention of Mormonism being the only true church once they attend regularly. I’m not going to argue about whether or not the Mormon Church and members do good–they obviously do, to their credit. But that’s not unique and not a strong argument for joining a religion that will then ALSO introduce some challenging doctrinal, historical and cultural challenges.

        Growth is slowing, and the church is struggling badly in some places: Chile, the UK, Scotland, Sweden, much of Western Europe, in fact. Global activity rates are about 30 percent of actual membership, and arguably millions have joined the church but don’t really consider themselves devout Mormons.

        I would rather see the church focus on ‘doing good’ instead of ‘being true,’ but I think there are still issues to sort out before people will accept that doing good really is the true objective.

        • Christopher D. Cunningham

          You believe these people don’t think there is a true church. I think these people have never considered the question before. Eventually, in the process of considering the LDS church they will need to consider the question, yes. But the Church has some uniquely positive attributes, that lumping its positives in with those of other faiths seem odd.

          As for your insinuation that the church’s growth is slowing, you said it’s slowing in Chile, western Europe, western Europe, western Europe, and much of western Europe. I think in general western Europe is struggling with religion, and the Church is far from unique there. Look at stake growth, the strongest indicator of active member growth. And we see that church growth is continuing and even accelerating. Meanwhile southern and eastern Europe, along with western Asia have been getting missionaries for the first time in the last five years. So exciting growth just a few countries away from the religion hole of western Europe.

          And I’m certainly not suggesting that the question of whether or not the Church is true is unimportant, or even less important than the question of whether the Church is good. I simply think they’re different questions, and the latter is a question that gets very little relative attention.

          • David

            Agreed, they are different questions, which is why I was saying one would create conflict with the other. I don’t think the ‘good’ question is interesting because it’s amorphously defined and ends up being a low bar, i.e., giving to charity is good, community is good, etc. Yes, I think most of the good the church has is common with other religions. I do think that luring people to church with goodness and then hitting them with truth is kind of a bait and switch, especially when you get into the obscure doctrines, but then the church has been doing that for a long time.

            I’m not insinuating. If I’ve been sloppy and enabled your snark, I’ll be more specific. According to statistics I’ve seen that you are probably familiar with, church growth is at 1.7 percent globally, the lowest it has been since 1937. Baptisms are down 13 percent since the 90s, but much of that is because the church has tightened up standards of baptism, which is a good thing, I would argue. Yes, there is still growth, mostly in the third world, and Europe is not the only developed region where the church is not seeing a lot of success. There are also significant issues with regard to how many young members are going inactive in their 20s.

            Does this matter? Probably not much. If you want to believe in the church, you can find statistics that support that belief. The same in the opposite direction. http://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/2016/11/is-lds-church-growing.html

            What has always troubled me more is that the church is less forthcoming about what percentage of the church remains active more than 2 years after baptism. They speak to absolute growth rates because the idea of truth is tied to growth as a proof point. If growth is happening, even anemically, but retention and activity rates remain stagnant or even decline, that would tell a different story than “The church is experiencing tremendous growth” does.

          • Christopher D. Cunningham

            You’re right David you didn’t deserve my snark. Long day, my apologies.

            The word I used in the article was “rapid” growth. Church growth certainly has some complications, but I think stake growth is the best measure for active growth. It used to be stake growth that critics pointed to in order to show that convert baptism rates didn’t say the entire picture. And I thought they were right. Stake growth is continuing to grow. The rate is increasing. All factors considered I think a fair description is to say growth is steady and sustainable. I think Matt Martinich would probably categorize it the same way. Inactive YSAs is certainly not a new phenomenon, nor necessarily one that lasts into adulthood.

            I think the idea that growth is necessary for truth is interesting. You’re right that the optics certainly support that. But you’ve got competing scriptural narratives one of the stone growing, but the other of the wheat and the tares being separated. I think the church could certainly sustain a narrative of decreasing growth.

  • Bill P.

    Ooh, good! Now you don’t have to be embarrassed when your “cool friends” ask you “hey, is it true that you Mormons think yours is the only true Christian church?”

    You can just deflect and start talking about how the Church is sort of like the Peace Corps but with less paperwork!

    Yeah, that’s the ticket.