Did you know that, as of December 31st, 2016 the LDS Church had 421 missions and 70,946 LDS missionaries in the field? Of course you do, because every April General Conference the Secretary of the First Presidency reads the LDS Church’s annual Statistical Report from the prior year.
However, standing alone, Statistical Reports can be pretty dry without the right context. It may be interesting because we all love to hear numbers, but ultimately it doesn’t tell us everything we need to know to fully understanding the meaning of the numbers read. When you put it in some context, though, suddenly these elusive numbers can tell a story.
I looked at the last ten years of statistical reports, from 2007 to the present, I took the data about full-time missionaries and missions and put it into an infographic. I think this infographic tells a pretty interesting story.
The number of full-time missionaries and missions has increased exponentially since 2012. In 2012 the number of full-time missionaries was 58,990, and the total number of missions was 347. In 2013 those numbers increased to 83,035 full-time missionaries and 405 total missions. Why did such a significant amount of growth occur in just one year, you ask? Well, if you can remember all the way back to the October 2012 General Conference, you will recall that in President Thomas S. Monson’s address he announced that worthy and able young men could now serve a mission at the young age of 18 instead of the previous age of 19, and worthy young women could serve at the age of 19 instead of the previous age of 21. The announcement of this really sky rocketed missionary statistics. In just one year the number of full-time missionaries increased by 24,045 and the number of missions increased by 58! Since that announcement, we have seen numbers go way up and then down a little again but overall the statistics have increased since that October 2012 General Conference.
Ultimately, this infographic does not have any important religious connotation. The truth of the church is not dependent on the number of full-time missionaries it has. However, I find it interesting to look at all the data and to find a story in the statistics.