By Aaron Earls
Globally, Christianity is growing, and there’s good news for churches to celebrate. But not every statistic and trend paint a positive picture for the church around the world today.
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary regularly updates a report tracking global statistics and trends of religion in general and Christianity specifically. In addition to seven encouraging trends to note, there are also six concerning trends shown in their 2022 Status of Global Christianity report.
1. Christianity is growing but only at the same rate as the global population.
While it is noteworthy and laudable that Christianity is growing, we should recognize the share of Christians in the world is flat. Since 1900, the share of Christians has actually fallen. At the turn of the 20th century, 34.5% of the world was Christian. By the time we entered the 21st century, that number had fallen to 32.2%, where it remains.
Currently, the world’s population is growing at a 1.18% rate, while Christianity’s growth rate is at 1.17%.While Christianity is growing numerically, Christians make up a smaller share of the world's population now than they did in 1900, according to the 2022 State of Global Christianity. Click To Tweet
The Gordon-Conwell report does predict, however, that Christianity will grow as a share of the world’s population in the coming years after recently reversing the downward trend and drawing even with population growth. In 2050, they estimate Christians will make up 34.2% of Earth’s population.
2. Christianity is growing but not as fast as some other religions.
While Christianity’s growth is essentially even with the population as a whole, globally, Hinduism (1.21%), Sikhism (1.52%), and Islam (1.93%) are growing faster.Globally, Christianity (1.17%) is growing slower than Hinduism (1.21%), Sikhism (1.52%), and Islam (1.93%), according to the 2022 State of Global Christianity. Click To Tweet
There are almost 28 million Sikhs today—up from 2.9 million in 1900. Hinduism has grown from close to 203 million adherents in 1900 to more than 1 billion today. Islam has seen the fastest growth of any religion over the last 120 years: 200 million in 1900 and 1.96 billion today.
3. Christianity is growing on some continents but is all but stalled in most.
Were it not for explosive growth in Asia (1.5%) and Africa (2.77%), Christianity would have plateaued and begun drastically shrinking as a share of the world’s population.
In every other area of the globe, Christianity is growing slower than the population rate—Latin America (1.09%), Oceania (0.73%), and North America (0.27%). In Europe (0.06%), Christianity is barely growing at all.Christianity is growing rapidly in Asia (1.5%) and Africa (2.77%), but slower than the global population rate in Latin America (1.09%), Oceania (0.73%), North America (0.27%), and Europe (0.06%), according to the 2022 State of… Click To Tweet
In 1900, twice as many Christians lived in Europe (381 million) than everywhere else in the world combined (178 million). Today, Europe’s Christian population (569 million) is less than Latin America (612 million) and Africa (692 million). The Status of Global Christianity report predicts the faith to grow in every continent between now and 2050—except in Europe, which is expected to drop below 500 million.
4. Christians are going to the cities of the world but not as fast as the cities are growing.
Currently, the world’s urban population is growing at 2.11% and more than half of the world’s population (57%) lives in an urban center. Upwards of 4.5 billion people live in a city today, up from almost 2.9 billion in 2000.
Christianity is growing, but only at a 1.5% rate among city dwellers. The Christian population of the world’s cities has grown from 1.2 billion in 2000 to almost 1.7 billion today. Christians are a minority in 365 of the 608 global cities with more than a million people.
Every day there are 168,000 new non-Christians living in the major cities around the world.
5. Too many non-Christians still don’t know any Christians.
Christianity continues to spread around the world and become less centralized in predominantly Christian nations, but the vast majority of non-Christians still don’t even know a Christian.Currently, more than 4 in 5 non-Christians around the world (81.7%) do not even know a Christian, according to the 2022 State of Global Christianity. Click To Tweet
In 1900, only 5.4% of the world’s non-Christian population knew a Christian. Thankfully, that percentage has increased but only to 18.3%. This means more than 4 in 5 non-Christians don’t have a relationship with a single Christian. This leads to the last concerning statistic.
6. 2 billion people are completely unevangelized.
As a percentage of the world’s population, the unevangelized, those who have never heard the gospel, are shrinking. In 1900, over half the world was unevangelized. That has fallen to 28% today. Despite that, the raw number of people without access to the gospel has more than doubled.More than 2.2 billion living on Earth today have never been told of Jesus, according to the 2022 State of Global Christianity. Click To Tweet
At the turn of the 20th century, fewer than 900 million people were unevangelized. Today, that number is more than 2.2 billion who’ve never been told of Jesus. By 2050, the Gordon-Conwell report estimates the global unevangelized population will top 2.75 billion.
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.