As a Business Analyst, the mantra I try to remember every day while I try to figure out how the company is doing, why it is the way it is, and what we can and should do, is that correlation is not causation. Sometimes logical fallacies are put forth by well-intentioned people and actions are taken based on that faulty logic which could have been more effective if superseded by a nice dose of common sense. In our LDS setting, let me put forth a few examples, having to do with conversion and retention.
1. 50% of youth are inactive before they reach the age of 12, Therefore Primary Teachers are the most important calling in the Church.
Ok, so hereâ€™s the basic common sense test. While it may be true that children under the age of 12 represent 50% of the youth who go inactive, who ultimately decides if these kids go to Church? Do they, or do their parents? Parents right? So if parents are the ones in charge of minors, then that means 50% of the youth in the church are going inactive before the age of 12 because 50% of the youthâ€™s parents in the church are either allowing their youth to go inactive, or are going inactive themselves. Thus Primary Teachers are not the most important calling in the church. Parenting is, and teachers who train and encourage those parents at church would supersede other roles in the church, or should.
2. 1 in 6 investigators taught in a memberâ€™s home gets baptized, so missionaries should teach all of their investigatorâ€™s in members homes.
Common Sense Test: Ok, So in a normative situation, what investigators are taught in memberâ€™s homes? Memberâ€™s friends who are close enough relations to the member to have been in the memberâ€™s home. Why would these people be more likely to be baptized? Because of their close relationship with the member, or in other words, because they already have a social foundation in Mormonism. So if you take a complete stranger into a memberâ€™s home, the probability of them getting baptized may not see such an exponential increase. We are better served encouraging our members to be open honest and most importantly good neighbors, rather than weaken this statistic by trying to force situations.
3. Members from a distant country who go to the temple are more likely to stay active, so we need to build more temples that are closer to members so they will stay active.
Common Sense Test: Members who are willing to sacrifice and invest of themselves to go a great distance for the church are more likely to stay active in any case that people who are unwilling to sacrifice and do not invest themselves. By making the investment required exponentially smaller, this statisticâ€™s effectiveness will also become smaller. Thus we are better served in finding appropriate ways for each member to have an opportunity to invest themselves in the Gospel experience, whether that be temple work, the cannery, teaching primary, or any other calling we can extend.
So it seems the real answers to the three corollaries above are 1. Nourishment by the good word of God. 2. A Friend and 3. A Calling.