By Aaron Earls
With so much happening in the U.S. in 2020, particularly within the church, American Christians can often forget theirs is a global faith.
There are significant and noteworthy trends of Christianity happening around the world right now, according to the latest Status of Global Christianity report from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.
1. Both Africa and Latin America have more Christians than Europe.
In 1900, twice as many Christians lived in Europe than in the rest of the world. Today, the Christian population in Europe has a flat growth rate, while Africa and Asia continue to experience dramatic growth.
Currently, almost 640 million Christians live in Africa and 604 million in Asia, while 544 million call Europe home.
2. Evangelical Christianity is at home in the global South.
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia:
The number of Evangelicals in the world has increased from 112 million in 1970 to 386 million in 2020. Globally, Evangelicalism is a predominantly non-White movement within Christianity, and is becoming increasingly more so, with 77% of all Evangelicals living in the Global South in 2020. This is up from only 7.8% in 1900.
There are fewer atheists around the world now (147 million) than there were in 1970 (165 million).
In recent decades, atheism has started to experience minor growth but only at a 0.22% rate.
Christianity, on the other hand, is growing at 1.19% rate and is expected to continue to grow and add adherents globally.
4. By 2050, Charismatic Christians will outnumber the non-religious.
The total of all non-religious individuals around the world currently sits at more than 878 million, while Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians number 644 million.
In the next 30 years, however, that branch of Christianity will top 1 billion, while the non-religious will be closing in on 850 million.
5. Christianity will top 3 billion adherents before 2050.
Currently, Christianity is the only religion with more than 2 billion followers. In the next five years, Islam will cross that threshold. Hinduism recently topped 1 billion.
By 2050, Christianity will be the first to reach 3 billion. More than 3.4 billion people will be Christians then, according to the Gordon Conwell projections.
6. By 2050, almost 1.3 billion Christians will live in Africa.
As Christianity continues to grow worldwide, the main driver of the growth remains Africa, increasing at a 2.86% rate.
Before 2050, it will be the first continent that is home to more than 1 billion Christians.
7. The percentage of the world that remains unevangelized continues to fall.
While there are more than twice as many unevangelized people alive today than 100 years ago, they represent a smaller number than ever before.
In 1900, more than half the world’s population was unevangelized (54.3%). In 2020, that percentage has decreased to 28.3%.
8. The percentage of non-Christians who know a Christian is climbing.
Part of the reason for the decline in the unevangelized can be attributed to the growth in non-Christians knowing a Christian.
While few non-Christians know a Christian today (18.2%) that percentage has increased dramatically since 1900 when only 5.3% knew a follower of Jesus.
9. Over 100 million Bibles per year will be printed by 2025.
In addition to all the digital ways people can access Scripture, the number of Bibles printed each year continues to climb.
Today, approximately 95 million Bibles are printed each year. By 2025, that will have climbed to 110 million.
10. The number of Christian martyrs is falling after spiking in the late 1900s.
While persecution remains a significant issue for Christians globally, the number of martyrs has fallen since 1970, according to Gordon Conwell.
Then, 3.7 million Christians were killed every 10 years. Today, that number is closer to 900,000 every decade.
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.