I am not the best attendee of mission reunions, but I did attend last October, and I'm very glad I did. We had a segment presented by a German on how the missionary work is changing in Germany. I'm sure most of you are aware of the consolidation of missions and reduction in missionaries sent there and in other places.
But what I (and I assume most) didn't know is that the number of convert baptisms and retention is actually growing rapidly, especially among the "target ages" of twenties and thirties.
The burden of missionary work has been shifted from missionaries and put squarely on members' shoulders. And in true German fashion, the members have risen to the occasion.
Many have assumed that the missions are being consolidated from lack of interest and conservation of resources. But what the numbers are showing (according to the presentation I heard) is that when members begin to realize their own responsibility for teaching and nurturing converts in their own areas, you get more conversions and more baptisms. People take care of each other. Missionary work becomes more personal and more real. The wards and stakes become more Christian. And those who convert are serious about converting, and stay with it.
So the Church is not shrinking because of fewer missionaries in developed areas. It is growing.