Tag Archives: statistics

184th Annual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session


So, I’m at home now with my family. The kids went out to the backyard to shot a few baskets (I think it’s too cold for basketball, but I’m glad they got some fresh air) in between sessions.

I’m interested to see/hear the statistical report this afternoon

President Henry B Eyring conduct

A combined choir from the Orem Utah Institute sang Glory to God on High

The invocation was offered by Elder Ian S Ardern

The choir sang I Lived in Heaven

President Dieter F Ucthdorf did the sustainings

  • Tad R Callister was released as a general authority and from the Presidency of the Seventy, and then was called to be the General Sunday School President
  • Lynn G Robbins was called to the Presidency of the Seventy
  • Our former stake president who became an Area Seventy last year is moving out of the area. He wasn’t released, so I guess he’ll be an area authority where he is moving to. I didn’t recognize any of the new names sustained, so I guess I don’t know (of) the Area Seventy who will replace him

Kevin R Jergensen, Managing Director, Church Auditing Department Annual Report

  • Every has been record/administrated according to policies/procedures

Brook P Hales, Secretary to the First Presidency, shared the statistical report for the year 2013.

    • Stakes 3,050 (In 2012 it was 3,005)
    • Missions 405 (In 2012 it was 347)
    • Districts 571 (In 2012 it was 591)
    • Wards and branches 29,253 (In 2012 it was 29,014)
    • Total membership 15.082,028 (In 2012 it was 14,782,473)
    • New children of record 115,486 (In 2012 it was 122,273)
    • Converts baptized 282,945 (In 2012 it was 272,330)
    • Full-time missionaries 83,035 (In 2012 it was 58,990)
    • Church-service missionaries 24032 (In 2012 it was 22,961)
    • Temples dedicated 1 (In 2012 it was 4)
    • Temples rededicated 0 (In 2012 it was 2)
    • Temples in operation 141 (In 2012 it was 140)

Elder Russell M Nelson ** one of my favourites

  • Our faith will be tested and challenged
  • Celebrity can fade
  • Let your faith show
  • Truth is truth; it is not divisible
  • Even if everyone is doing it, wrong is never right
  • Let your faith show

Elder Richard G Scott

  • We can help others in righteousness
  • Our influence can help bring to pass God’s purposes
  • Sometimes our mundane responsibilities consume us, and we miss the God’s greater purpose

The choir and congregation sang We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

Elder Robert D Hales – NOTE: Elder Hales is very thin, but ultimately seems to have much more strength in his voice than the last couple of years

  • No lesson is as clear from the Savior as is obedience
  • Be careful who you follow
  • The natural man only wants their own “wisdom”

Elder Claudio D Zivik

  • It would be great to keep the commandments without having to be asked to
  • We need to follow the right path

Elder W Craig Zwick ** one of my favourites

  • Told a story about his wife jumping out of a moving truck out of fear that the engine was on fire
  • They gave each other the silent treatment, and then talked
  • It could have been a disaster for their marriage
  • Destructive words can take a situation of dangerous to fatal
  • A soft answer is a reasoned response
  • Words can be firm in information but soft in spirit
  • We need to cultivate respect

Elder Quentin L Cook

  • When we die, we will live again
  • The doctrine of uniting families came forth line upon line
  • Baptism for your dead (D&C 127:5); our responsibility is to our own family
  • The Family History Centre is in your home
  • The youth are being called upon to help with this work

The choir sang High on the Mountain Top

The benediction was offered by Sister Linda K Burton

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

When numbers acquire the significant of language

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a baseball fan. When the book Moneyball came out in 2003, I read it shortly afterward (I haven’t seen the movie yet). Basically, Moneyball is about how the Oakland A’s, a small-market team, used statistics to acquire the right players and build a winning team. At the time I was the Elders Quorum President, and about a year later I became the Bishop of our ward. I couldn’t help but compare some of the thought processes in the book with the Mormon “obsession” with statistics (home teaching percentage, quarterly report stats, etc.)

One part of the book stuck out to me the most:

Bill James did not like the statistic in baseball called error. If you weren’t even close to the ball, it didn’t have a name, but if you had done something, and tried, they called it an error.

The statistics were not merely inadequate; they lied. And the lies they told led people who ran major league baseball teams to misjudge their players, and mismanage their games. James later reduced his complaint to a sentence: fielding statistics made sense only as numbers, not as language. Language, not numbers, is what interested him. Words, and the meaning they were designed to convey.

When the numbers acquire the significance of language,” he later wrote, “they acquire the power to do all of the things which language can do: to become fiction and drama and poetry. …And it is not just baseball that these numbers, through a fractured mirror, describe. It is character. It is psychology, it is history, it is power, it is grace, glory, consistency, sacrifice, courage, it is success and failure, it is frustration and bad luck, it is ambition, it is overreaching, it is discipline. And it is victory and defeat, which is all that the idiot sub-conscious really understands.” What to most people was a dull record of ephemeral events without deep meaning or lasting value was for James a safe deposit box containing life’s secrets.

Lewis, Michael. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2003. 67-68.

It really is one of the problems with statistics. They can mean anything you want them to mean or they can mean nothing. I particularly like the beginning of the last paragraph. When numbers acquire the significance of language, they acquire the power to do all the things which language can do. Seeing some numbers on a quarterly report never made me want to do better. It was always the discussion of what those numbers represented that helped us understand the work that needed to be done.

Here is a simple example. For the longest time we’ve had a significantly larger group of Young Men than Young Women in our ward. Let’s say that in Q1 we had 22 Young Men attend church and 6 YW attend church. Let’s now say that in Q2 we had 21 Young Men attend church (5% drop in attendance) and 5 YW attend church (17% drop). More than once I had a concern expressed to me because of the “big” drop in our YW attendance. If that person who didn’t come in Q2 now comes out in Q3, there will be a large increase in attendance, and there will be comments about how wonderful the work is going.

I think that we need to do a better job in the Church (or at least in the wards I’ve been in) of putting the numbers in perspective and remembering what they really represent.

Let me be clear here, I think that the biggest problem is that we don’t have a better way to look at our progress. I don’t think the leaders were caring more about percentages than people. It’s just that the quarterly report is the only report they had. Without knowing the circumstances in every auxiliary in every ward, it is almost impossible for stake leaders to truly know what is going on.

I guess we need a Mormon Bill James who can get past the stats that “lie” and help us find the “success and failure… frustration and bad luck… ambition… discipline”.