Friday, September 6, 2013

Institute Activity Rates by Country? Help!

Institute Activity World Map
As I present numbers that may give insights into the progress of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I hope my love for the Church, its members and those who guide it is apparent.  That love poses problems for my work as a researcher; it is a bias. The problem is not unique as all researchers confront bias.  It is how that bias is confronted that matters.  I believe that my bias propels care in measurement to accurately portray the Church as it is. I hope to inform and inspire.
The performance ratio I present here, the institute activity rate for a country, is based on a similar calculation as the seminary activity rate for a country that I presented in “Seminary Activity Rates by Country” and is presented below the body of the text.  The critical assumption in both ratios is that the percentage of a country’s population of an age demographic, 14 to 17 for seminary students and approximately 21 to 24 for institute students mirrors the percentage of the Church population in the same demographic.  The assumption may be accurate for seminary activity ratio but obviously fails in a wide range of countries for the seminary activity ratio.  It is the failure that suggests the most interesting question: why did it fail?
A Comparison of Seminary and Institute Activity Rate by Country
Country Seminary Activity Rate Institute Activity Rate Country Seminary Activity Rate Institute Activity Rate
Africa Ukraine 64.2 118.0
Cape Verde 27.4
UK 22.3 28.7
Cote d’Ivoire 50.5
N. America
DR Congo 46.4
Canada 51.9 57.5
Ghana 47.5
Costa Rica 29.1 30.2
Kenya 44.0
Dom. Rep 21.3 17.6
Liberia 43.2
El Salvador 22.8 19.4
Madagascar 44.5
Guatemala 25.0 24.3
Nigeria 24.7
Haiti 12.2 37.9
R of Congo 56.0
Honduras 27.2 22.5
Sierra Leone 46.8
Mexico 25.8 24.0
South Africa 32.9
Nicaragua 23.3 22.1
Uganda 22.0 26.7 Panama 28.7 20.3
Zimbabwe 31.5
Puerto Rico 17.4 20.4
Asia USA 56.1 41.9
Hong Kong 33.3
India 38.5
American Samoa 52.1 29.5
Indonesia 27.1
Australia 42.4 48.2
Japan 31.4
Fiji 42.7 28.6
Mongolia 39.4
French Polynesia 64.7 57.7
Philippines 24.7
Kiribati 5.0 9.7
Singapore 61.9
Marshall Islands 19.4 4.5
South Korea 22.9
New Zealand 37.3 22.9
Taiwan 26.5
Papua New Guinea 12.3 1.9
Thailand 22.0
Samoa 31.4 32.1
Europe Tonga 40.4 25.8
Austria 53.9
S. American
Belgium 34.8
Argentina 21.6 19.0
Denmark 46.8 57.9 Bolivia 29.0 31.1
Finland 87.3 431.8 Brazil 24.5 30.2
France 24.7 48.9 Chile 18.6 15.8
Germany 49.6 69.9 Colombia 27.2 31.1
Hungary 22.2 48.7 Ecuador 22.5 17.0
Ireland 40.0 33.9 Paraguay 20.4 10.5
Italy 40.0 85.7 Peru 41.0 42.3
Netherlands 28.5 60.3 Uruguay 15.9 14.5
Norway 49.8 54.0 Venezuela 38.9 47.9
Portugal 15.5 21.4
Russia 34.4 123.7
Spain 41.3 58.7
Sweden 47.7 66.4
Switzerland 60.8 82.8

The map “Institute Activity Rate by Country” gives a quick impression of activity around the world.  Countries in blue have the highest institute activity rates.  As the rate falls, blue turns to green, yellow, brown and then red.  The data for the map is found in the table, “A Comparison of Seminary and Institute Activity Rate by Country,” and it provides the meat for discussion.  It shows both the seminary and institute activity rates for countries in all six geographic divisions of the Church.  All ratios should fall between 0 and 1.  They do not.  Six countries, two in Africa (Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone) and four in Europe (Austria, Finland, Russia, Ukraine) have institute activity rates above 1.  Another eleven have institute activity rates that are 75% greater than their seminary activity rates.  I identified three possible explanations.  The focus here is on my thought process.  My explanations might all be wrong and others may think of an additional hundred.  Comments are invited from all who have better ideas than I.  Until those comments are made, my thoughts offer a starting place.
My thinking might be ethnocentric, based on my experience in the United States.  I assumed that a student might attend seminary for up to four years while they were earning a BA degree.  If they married, institute attendance end or be greatly diminished.  For this reason, I assumed a four year range for young adult attendance rather than the ten year range of eligibility.  Perhaps students elsewhere attend for longer periods of time, (increasing the denominator and thereby) lowering the institute attendance rate.  It is also possible that young adult age members are more active than other age demographics. 
Foreign young adults who are members might attend institutes in a host country, inflating the percentage of the institute age population of members above the institute population age of the host.   
Finally, an institute program might be an integral part of the missionary program focusing on outreach.  Armand L. Mauss describes the implementation of this type of effort inthe Central Europe Area in 2003 in “Can There Be A “Second Harvest”? : Controlling the Costs of Latter-day Saint Membership in Europe,” (June 7, 2013).
Among the most recent and effective method for involving members in the missionary program is one that was “pilot-tested” in 2003, with the encouragement of two apostles, and finally implemented during the next two years in all of the stakes of the Europe Central Area, and perhaps in other areas as well. This method uses the CES classes with their Young Single Adults as “Institute Outreach Centers.” Under the ultimate direction of the local stake and mission presidents, these YSAs join with full-time missionaries to invite and bring young people of the same general age range (18 – 30) to local LDS Church buildings for Family Home Evenings, Institute classes, cultural and intellectual events, socials, and sports activities. Through these events, missionaries get many opportunities to teach young investigators in the chapels with YSA members present. So far the results of this program have been promising, not only in conversions but in retentions, for 80% of those converted through the Institute Outreach Centers are still active a year after baptism.
As noted, many of the countries with high institute attendance rates are in Central Europe. 
As I work look and various statistics about the Church it is impossible to ignore or deny growth.  Institute enrollment, seminary enrollment, membership, stakes, and missionaries are all increasing.  It is likewise impossible to ignore the vast number of members who lose their way.  In “The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley,” Sheri Dew describes a similar reflection by President Hinckley as he was leaving Japan.
“Something is tingling in my bones this morning as I sense I am here in Japan visiting with the Saints and the missionaries.  I have so many times, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in rejoicing.  And now it seems that the dark days of pioneering are behind us and that he Church is on solid footing….”  too many converts were being lost.  “Too many are coming in the front door and going out the back…”
Mark (4: 3-30) tells the parable of the sower who casts seed along his path.  Some are devoured, others shrivel from shallow roots, and still others are choked by thorns.  We are like the Servants of the Lord in Jacob 5, are assigned to care for the Lord’s fruit.  It is labor and there will sorrow and rejoicing but it is our task. 

Derivation of  Institute Activity Ratio

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