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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Some Thoughts About Church Growth (or the Lack Thereof) in Certain Areas

Hello again, everyone! Although I anticipate that breaking news will be provided at some point tomorrow morning on the reopening of more temples under phase 1 (which allows husband and wife live sealings with limited in-person attendance), and although it seems more likely than not that the Church could share a couple other breaking developments relating to temples, I had something else I wanted to mention on this blog at this time. 
Before I get into that topic today, I also wanted to note that I'm specifically anticipating the announcement of at least 2 temple groundbreakings, and maybe also the new announcement of 1 or more temple sites and/or the release of one or more additional temple renderings. and that additional developments may be reported on one or two other fronts as well, what I wanted to focus a new post on today couldn't wait at all.  
I wanted to note that, over the last few months since the April 2020 General Conference was held, since the Church had subsequently released quite a bit more in the way of nation-by-nation statistics that were updated as of year-end 2019, Matthew Martinich, who maintains the Church Growth blog, has been in the process of overhauling the content he provides in his "Reaching the Nations" profiles through cumorah.com. 
Through his blog, he has shared links to many of those updated profiles. And with that focus (and the ensuing comments in the associated threads thereof) in mind, I wanted to post some thoughts from me here about Church growth (or the lack thereof) in certain areas. Some of the most recent posts shared by Matt with the updated profiles focus on nations within Europe, Asia, and South America. In many of those recent threads, problems related to Church growth across those continents were detailed. Those issues have principally been noted in the Europe, Europe East, Asia, Asia North, and South America South Area (with the possible exception of the nation of Argentina). In the early 2000s, the Church sent out 3 apostles (including then-Elder Oaks to the Philippines and Elder Holland to Chile from 2002-2004, and Elder Perry to Central Europe from 2004-2005). The apostles sent to those areas specifically focused on Church growth issues in those regions and provided a more personal touch towards fixing and/or reversing those issues.
Between 2002 and now, the Church has called 10 new apostles (Elders Uchtdorf, Bednar, Cook, Christofferson, Andersen, Rasband, Stevenson, Renlund, Gong, and Soares). Of those 10, five have connections to Europe (with Elder Uchtdorf being a native German, and Elders Bednar, Cook and Andersen having served in European missions, while Elder Soares has been a mission president in Portugal), two have connections to Asia (with Elders Stevenson and Gong both having served missions in Asian ntions, and both having served in Asia Area presidencies, while Elder Stevenson has also served as president of a mission in Asia), and 3 or 4 have served missions, in area presidencies, or as mission presidents in South American nations (namely Elders Christofferson, Andersen, Soares, and perhaps also Elder Rasband).s counsel
So I have a couple of theories here. First, many of the latest comments on the Church Growth blog have suggested something that I believe will absolutely be true, that COVID-19 conditions may ultimately lead the Church to see greater success in nations currently experiencing struggles with growth-related issues. I definitely hope that will be the case, and could see it happening. At the same time, however, a part of me wonders whether President Nelson, whose right-hand man President Oaks had the experience of previously presiding over an international area of the Church, may choose at some point in the near future to send one or more apostles out to any of these struggling areas and to take oversight thereof for a period of one to two years.
It may not happen, especially since the apostles have been utilized more frequently of late in performing duties typically done by the president of the Church or his counselors. But on the other hand, having such apostles in such areas would enable them to personally oversee some of those assignments while serving for a time as presidents of those areas.. And the apostles have been commanded in scripture to "send" the word and their representatives abroad rather than filling long-term assignments abroad themselves. There's a lot to consider about this scenario that may or may not occur again in the near future, just as it had been utilized in the early 2000s.

I will be interested to see if the current conditions impacting the growth of the Church on the Asian, European, and South American continents resolve themselves following the elimination of COVID-19 as a factor, and whether or not the Church needs to take action on any of these issues at that time. I also continue to monitor all Church news and temple updates, and will be sure to pass word of those along to you all as I become aware of such things.
That does it for now. Any and all comments are, as always, welcome and appreciated, on any post at any time, as long as such comments are made in accordance with the established guidelines. Thank you for the privilege of your time. If you enjoyed what you read here and would like to stay informed of newly added content, please feel free to subscribe. Until my next post, I wish each one of you all the best and pray that the Lord will bless you all in everything you do.