“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.“- Matthew 7:14
Just how narrow is the way and just how “few” is few?
The LDS church claims to be the one and only true church upon the face of the earth, with exclusive access to Priesthood power, which is the actual power God possesses and delegates to Priesthood holders who can then perform ordinances which are essential for every member of the human race who wants to return to him.
Percentage of Mormons in the World:
15,372,337 members of the LDS church as of 2015 –http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/04/a-statistical-profile-what-numbers-tell-us-about-ourselves?lang=eng
7,384,393,597 people in the world as of 11/29/15– http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ (this number is continually increasing)
15,372,337 / 7,384,393,597 = .002 = .2%
This means that approximately 99.8% of the world population is not Mormon.
Percentage of Active Mormons in the World:
Several sources, using different methods, estimate that less than 1/3 of Mormons of record actively attend church on a regular basis, or even consider themselves Mormon.
“Analysis of existing data on LDS member activity from official sources, national censuses, and other existing sociologic data lead to several key conclusions. First, less than half of individuals claimed as members by the LDS Church worldwide identify the LDS Church as their faith of preference. The percentage varies from the mid-sixties in the United States to 20-27% in Latin America. The low correlations between official membership claims and self-identified religious affiliations in Latin American nations that account for the majority of non-U.S. LDS membership make it statistically impossible for this ratio worldwide to reach the 50% threshold. If neighboring nations with similar political and cultural circumstances demonstrate trends similar those of larger nations from which data are available, approximately 40% of individuals claimed as members by the LDS Church worldwide identify the Church as their faith of preference.
Second, as actual member activity and participation rates are always lower than self-identified rates of religious affiliation, existing data suggests that the number of Latter-day Saints attending church worldwide on an average Sunday cannot exceed 30% of official membership figures, and is likely closer to the upper twenties.“- http://www.cumorah.com/index.php?target=church_growth_articles&story_id=21
Currently there are 29,621 LDS congregations in the world. This includes wards and branches. (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics).
The largest chapels in the U.S. and Canada have a maximum capacity of 233 fixed seats for the chapel and 379 total including the overflow. (http://aec.ldschurch.org/aec/standard_plans/Standard_Plans_Planning_Brochure.pdf). Let’s make some assumptions about average congregational attendance and see how it affects the activity rate.
- 233 average attendees per congregation- (huge overestimate that presumes every congregation in the world fills a U.S. size chapel to capacity each week)= 6,901,693 active members (44% activity rate)
- 200 average attendees per congregation- (this is still quite an overestimate-every congregation in the world nearly filling a U.S. size chapel)=5,924,200 active members (38% activity rate)
- 150 average attendees per congregation- (more reasonable) = 4,443,150 active members (29% activity rate)
- 100 average attendees per congregation- (probably too low) = 2,962,100 active members (19% activity rate)
With 29,621 LDS congregations in the world the ratio of ward to branches is about 65:35.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_membership_statistics#cite_note-ward-7). So that is approximately 19,253 wards and 10,637 branches.
If every single ward filled the chapel to capacity each week (233 members) and we assume each branch has 75 active members attending each week (both of which are certainly overestimated), that is 19,253 x 233 + 10,637 x 75 = 5,283,724 active members for a maximum activity rate of 34%.
Based on several different methodologies explained above, if we use a 30% activity rate as an estimate- which is probably still too high- then there are approximately 4,611,701 active members of the LDS church worldwide.
4,611,701 / 7,384,393,597= .0006 = approximately .06% of the world are active Mormons
This means that approximately 99.94% of the world’s population does not interact with Mormonism in any meaningful way.
Percentage of Priesthood holders in the world:
As of 1980 there were 565,000 Melchizedek Priesthood holders (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/04/a-statistical-profile-what-numbers-tell-us-about-ourselves?lang=eng). I can’t find any more current data than this. The percentage below assumes ALL the Priesthood holders are active.
565,000 / 4,453,831,714 (world population in 1980)= .00012 = .012%
This means that as of 1980, and presumably the percentage has not changed much as of 2015, 99.988% of the world’s population does not hold or exercise the Priesthood.
Heavenly Father’s Plan:
If the Plan of Salvation is accurate, we have a loving Heavenly Father who watches over us at every moment and whose greatest desire is for our happiness not only in this life, but in the next as well. In fact, male members of the church are instructed to closely emulate this Heavenly Father in every way possible way, and to treat our children as he would treat us. Having said all of this, there are some valid questions that arise.
Would I, as a loving earthly father, create a plan where 99.94% of my children do not participate in the blessings and opportunities that I view as crucial for their happiness both temporally and eternally?
If Priesthood blessings of healing and comfort are so essential and something a loving Heavenly Father would want for all of his children, how come only a tiny tiny fraction of his children have access to this?
If this life is a test to “…prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them,” then if 99.94% of God’s children have no meaningful access to his commands, then who is being tested, the .06% of the world that is adhering to the tenets of Mormonism?
If the purpose of temple work is to provide saving ordinances to those who have not had the chance to accept Mormonism, then is this temple work the primary purpose of this life, since 99.9%+ of the world has not or will not embrace the Mormon faith? If this is the case, then again, who is being tested in this life?
Would I, as a loving earthly father, delegate the power to act in my name to such an infinitesimally small percentage of my children that 99.98% of them need to rely on this handful of individuals for their happiness?
The LDS church is only true church on the face of the earth and has access to the Priesthood, which is the power to act in God’s name and dispense the saving ordinances necessary for exaltation and eternal life with Heavenly Father. The members of the church bear an enormous responsibility to bring truth to the world and invite them to participate in ordinances that will allow them to pass the angels that stand as sentinels and enter into eternal life with Heavenly Father. Members of the LDS church were choice spirits who due to their valiance in the pre-mortal existence were blessed to be born into LDS homes or come into contact with faithful LDS members or missionaries who converted them to the church.
“The basic purpose of all we teach and all that we do in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to make available the Priesthood authority and gospel ordinances and covenants that enable a man and a woman and their children to be sealed together and be happy at home. Period, exclamation point, end of sentence, that’s it.” – Elder David A. Bednar, Sabbath Day Observance in the Home and at Church, April 2015, 23:56 mark
“The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father.”- Elder Boyd K. Packer, The Shield of Faith, April 1995
While the LDS church might not be “the” way ,it is “a” way to access the divine. Membership in the LDS church and ordinances such as baptism, confirmation, Priesthood ordination, and temple endowments may not be literally necessary to pass angels that stand as sentinels, but they can serve to act as powerful symbols in our lives as ways to approach the divine and assist us in the process of self-sanctification.
It is very unlikely that the majority of the world’s population is missing out on essential practices and ordinances that are so vital to their happiness here on earth and essential for some type of exaltation in the world to come. This conclusion necessarily leaves room for other interpretations about the purpose of this life and how happiness can be achieved outside the confines of the LDS religion and perhaps religion in general. The percentage of Mormons compared to the population of the world will continue remain about the same and perhaps decline since the growth rate of membership is very similar to the growth rate of the world population. While Mormonism can give some individuals a sense of purpose and meaning in this life, the math just simply does not bear out the conclusion that this is the one and only true way to accomplish this. If the sole purpose of the Mormon church is to make Priesthood authority available to the world, allowing individuals to be sealed together and to be happy on this earth, as Elder Bednar has said, then the church is serving as a very ineffective distribution medium.
What are the chances that you were lucky enough to be born into the only true religion while greater than 99% of the remaining human race was not? The video below expounds on this idea.