February 29
Status of Global Mission 2016

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.You can download it hereI'll be talking about this and related issues in today's blab (2pm CST) with Steve Schirmer and Mike Falkenstine. Here, I want to again highlight a few critical columns from this report. 1. 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).

2. 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. 3. 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. 4. 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. 5. 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). 6. 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). 7. 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.