The BBC has a story up today about how China’s population will peak in 2029 at 1.44 billion. This is part of a wider trend that will impact strategies for mission.
Between 1900 and 2000 the world saw enormous population growth. This demographic growth has been one of the key challenges to world evangelization, and it has mainly happened in less reached and least reached areas.
Now, however, population growth has slowed enormously. Between 1900 and 2000 the population doubled twice–once per 50 years–but it is unlikely that it will double again in such a short period of time in the near future. The global population is now nearly 8 billion and will likely top 9 billion by 2050.
This is driven by the fact that many countries that grew in the 1900s have leveled off and reversed. China is the biggest but not the only example. Turkey and Iran are both seeing population stagnation and decline. Most of East Asia is in decline. Bangladesh was growing at 3% per annum in the 1970s and 1980s but has cut its growth to 1% per today.
What this means for mission deserves consideration. There are still huge populations with little access to the Gospel. India continues to grow and will shortly be the largest population and is already the largest pool of unreached people. Nevertheless the times are once again changing.