The new 2016 Status of Global Christianity is out from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.
This one page overview is my go-to snapshot of global statistics.
Here, I want to again highlight a few critical columns from this report.
- The Annual Trend column is the equivalent of a speedometer from 2000 to 2016. To figure out whether an individual trend is gaining ground or not, compare its annual trend number with the total population trend (1.19% yearly).
- Religionists, 1.31%. The world is becoming more religious, not less.
- Christians, 1.3% vs. Muslims, 1.8%. Both Christians and Muslims are gaining ground in the world, but Muslims are gaining ground faster. This is largely a function of faster net demographic growth rates in countries that have large Muslim populations; this in turn is caused partially by declines in mortality.
- Hindus, 1.26%. The Hindu population is making gains worldwide, but not as fast as Christians or Muslims.
- All of the remaining groups (except the very small Sikh population) are declining vs. global population.
- Non-religionists, 0.3% - agnostics are growing at .36%, and atheists at 0.05%. Despite headline-grabbing trends in certain parts of the world (the West, mostly), the world as a whole is becoming progressively and massively less non-religious (and atheists in particular are in sharp decline).
Note the differences in the major Christian traditions: Catholics and Orthodox are declining vs. the global population; Protestants are rapidly increasing; Independents (and especially Asian independents) are increasing fastest of all.
Note especially the number of unaffiliated (nominal) Christians is also declining rapidly; I don’t know specifically, but I would theorize these are becoming the ‘Nones’ of the headlines. There is a ‘floor’ to this decline, since the numbers of affiliated believers are all increasing.
We can see the shifts in Christianity most sharply in the regional differences - very fast growth in Africa and Asia, declines in Europe and North America, and little growth/slow declines in North America and Oceania. This is just the proof of what most of us know already.
Interestingly, we also see a decline in the number of foreign missionaries (and the growth in national workers is not keeping pace with global population).
Line 50, the % of non-Christians who know a Christian, is the all-important Personal Contact factor. Only 18% of non-Christians know a believer (inverse: 82% of non-Christians do not).
Finally, take a close look at lines 67 and 68. Once again, wee see that the absolute number of unevangelized individuals continues to grow (by 1.05% per annum–slower than the population, but still increasing), while the percentage of the world that is unevangelized is declining. By 2050 we will add another half a billion unevangelized people to our planet (nett of births minus deaths). We obviously need to do a far better job at mobilizing and sending to them.