RELIGION

Record increase in Mormon missionaries doesn't lead to equal spike in converts

  • FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2013, file photo, Mormon missionaries walk through the halls at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. A record number of young Mormons signed up for missions after church leaders lowered the minimum age in 2012, but new figures show the onslaught of proselytizing Latter-day Saints didn't lead to an equally dramatic spike in converts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2013, file photo, Mormon missionaries walk through the halls at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. A record number of young Mormons signed up for missions after church leaders lowered the minimum age in 2012, but new figures show the onslaught of proselytizing Latter-day Saints didn't lead to an equally dramatic spike in converts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2013, file photo, Mormon missionaries walk through the halls at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. A record number of young Mormons signed up for missions after church leaders lowered the minimum age in 2012, but new figures show the onslaught of proselytizing Latter-day Saints didn't lead to an equally dramatic spike in converts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2013, file photo, Mormon missionaries walk through the halls at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. A record number of young Mormons signed up for missions after church leaders lowered the minimum age in 2012, but new figures show the onslaught of proselytizing Latter-day Saints didn't lead to an equally dramatic spike in converts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)  (The Associated Press)

New figures from the Mormon church show that a record increase in missionaries didn't lead to an equally dramatic spike in converts.

Statistics released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints show there were nearly 300,000 converts last year. The figure marked a 9 percent increase from two years ago, even though the number of missionaries increased by 44 percent.

Mormon church spokesman Eric Hawkins said a number of factors may contribute to fewer baptisms per missionary, including a world that is increasingly secular.

Mormon scholars say the decline is most likely because many of the new missionaries went to North American areas that were already flush with Mormons. They say it may also show that missionaries are focusing on bringing inactive members back into the faith.