There were only six members of the Church when it was organized in 1830 in a small town in New York, USA. Since then the Church has grown to over 15.5 million members with wards and branches in over 150 countries. This growth is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy that the Church would roll forth to fill the whole earth (see Daniel 2:31–45). The Church—the kingdom of God on earth—is described as a stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” (Daniel 2:45), revealing that it is a divine, not a manmade, work.
Even as the Church’s influence fills the earth, its members will still be relatively few. Nephi foresaw this and wrote of our day, “I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few” because of the surrounding wickedness (1 Nephi 14:12). As the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ draws near, the world will become more and more wicked, and “it will become less and less popular to be a Latter-day Saint.”1
But Nephi also foresaw “that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth” (1 Nephi 14:12). Wards and branches can be found all over the world, general conference is interpreted in over 90 languages, and almost 75,000 full-time missionaries are sharing the gospel in 418 missions. The gospel is also being spread worldwide through social media and websites such as Mormon.org and LDS.org.
These efforts are significant and extensive but often proceed quietly. “This work of the Lord is indeed great and marvelous, but it moves forward essentially unnoticed by many of mankind’s political, cultural, and academic leaders. It progresses one heart and one family at a time, silently and unobtrusively, its sacred message blessing people everywhere.”2
The stone prophesied of so long ago truly is rolling forth, and as we do our part, the gospel will continue to spread and fill the whole earth (see Daniel 2:31–45).
To learn more about the Church’s future, read Doctrine and Covenants 65; Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stone Cut Out of the Mountain” (Oct. 2007 general conference); L. Whitney Clayton, “The Time Shall Come” (Oct. 2011 general conference).
What can we do to help the gospel roll forward?
Keeping the commandments and strengthening our testimonies give us a foundation to help spread the gospel.
Teaching our families the gospel strengthens them to live faithfully in a world that teaches them otherwise.
Fulfilling our callings helps strengthen the Church in our local areas.
We can help spread the gospel by simply talking to people about it.
In the temple we can perform ordinances for those who died without hearing the gospel in this life.
The Future of the Church
“It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44), in a priesthood meeting in 1834, in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 137.