Is Christianity growing or declining? Most people would give an answer to that question based on partial information. Here is a bigger picture of what is happening with Christian faith on a global sale. As of 2017, there were approximately 2.2 billion Christians in the world. This figure includes all groups that fall within the traditional understanding of Christianity, including, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and various groups of Protestants. Compare Christianity with its closest rival, Islam which is approaching 2 billion. There are significant groups of Christians on every continent and in every country in the world.
Where Christianity is Growing
Approximately 2.7 million people convert to Christianity each year from some other religion.
- For example, since the year 2000, Muslim converts to Christianity have averaged more than 100,000 per year.
- Another example is found in the 1.6 million Americans of Jewish background who identify themselves with some form of Christianity.
- Since 1945, Christianity in China has grown from more than 1 million to perhaps 70 million.
- Also since 1945, Christianity in South Korea has increased from around 2% of the population to around 30%. The largest congregation in the world, Yoido Full Gospel Church has more than 200,000 members and is located in Seoul South Korea.
Roman Catholicism has grown by approximately 11% worldwide since 2000, with the largest gains in Africa. Since the mid-20th century, Protestant groups have grown 300% faster than the world population rate, and 200% faster than the rate of growth for Islam. Protestants of all groups now account for 40% of all self-identified Christians. For example:
- There are 300 million Protestants in Africa, apart from the Muslim majority regions of North Africa.
- Even so, there are more than 2 million Protestants in North Africa and the Middle East.
- North and South America combined account for 260 million Protestants, with countries like Brazil, Guatemala, and Haiti experiencing impressive growth in the past 50 years.
- Europe currently has around 100 million Protestants.
Where Christianity is Declining
Since 2000, the United States has seen a 7% decline in people who identify as Christians of any kind. Experts believe this decline has resulted from the increasing climate of skepticism in general, and a growing hostility toward Christian faith in various influential sectors within society. An even steeper rate of decline has occurred in Canada and Europe, with the exception of portions of Eastern Europe, where Christian faith has been on the upswing since World War II.
Overall, Christianity is doing very well around he world. Contrary to the predictions of many in the Western world, Christianity is not in any danger, but continues to be the largest single religious family and is steadily gaining ground in many parts of the world. American Christians can be encouraged by this fact, while finding new and creative ways to stop and reverse the decline we are seeing in our own culture.
Sources: World Christian Encyclopedia, Pew Research Center.