Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020

cross5The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, located at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, USA has released a report that collates and analyzes data on church membership and activities collected by thousands of Christian denominations around the world. Here are some of the significant findings of this study:

  • In 1970, nearly 82% of the world’s population was religious. By 2010 this had grown to around 88%, with a projected increase to almost 90% by 2020. Religious adherence is growing largely due to the continuing resurgence of religion in China.
  • The global North is becoming more religiously diverse, with more countries becoming home to a greater number of the world’s religions. However, religious diversity is decreasing in many countries in the global South with the growth of mainly one religion, most commonly Christianity or Islam.
  • The twentieth century experienced the great shift of Christianity to the global South, a trend that will continue into the future. In 1970, 41.3% of all Christians were from Africa, Asia, or Latin America. By 2020, this figure is expected to be 64.7%.
  • Christianity is expected to grow as a proportion of Africa’s population, from 143 million in 1970 (38.7% of the continent’s population), to 630 million by 2020 (49.3%).
  • In Asia, Christianity is growing more than twice as fast as the general population, mostly through conversions, though it is still a minority religion there (only 8.2% in 2010).
  • In Europe, Latin America, and Northern America Christianity is declining as a percentage of the population. Latin American Christians, however, represent an increasing share of the global Christian population, up from 22.0% in 1970 to 23.5% by 2020, and Evangelical and Renewalist Christianity is growing rapidly there.
  • In Europe, individuals are increasingly leaving the faith, mainly to agnosticism and atheism, and many European countries have rapidly aging populations and birth rates below replacement level.
  • A new trend in Northern America is the rise of the unaffiliated (those who would check “none of the above” on a survey about religion), both religious and non-religious.

To read the report, click on: Christianity in its Global Context.

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