Asia and Africa leading global growth of Christianity: 5 key trends to spur momentum in our churches
Kelly Ng // February 17, 2022, 11:55 am
Overall, the number of religious people is growing at 1.27%, while the number of non-religious people is growing at less than half that rate, according to the Status of Global Christianity 2002 report. Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels.
Asia is among the regions in the world where Christianity is growing the fastest, reports the newly released Status of Global Christianity 2022.
The number of Christians in Asia is growing at 1.5% each year, second only to Africa, where the growth rate stands at 2.77%.
Asia will house some 389 million Christians (15%) by the middle of 2022.
The Status of Global Christianity 2022, an annual statistical overview of global Christianity by the Gordon-Cornwell Theological Seminary, suggests that the growth of Christianity has quickened in the global South over the past century, led by Asia and Africa.
The spread of Christianity means that it is also less concentrated in Christian-majority countries. In 1900, 95% of all Christians lived in a Christian-majority country. That number has fallen to 53.7% in 2022. By 2050, 50.4% of Christians around the world will live in non-Christian-majority nations.
But large numbers are still unreached.
Salt&Light highlights some key findings from the report.
Asia is among the regions where Christianity is growing the fastest
The report estimates that Asia will house some 389 million Christians by the middle of 2022, representing about 15% of the global Christian population. By 2050, the proportion will go up to about 17%.
Christians, as defined by the report, includes traditions like Roman Catholics, protestants, independents, orthodox, evangelicals, pentecostals and charismatics, as well as unchurched Christians.
Africa can expect to see the most encouraging growth in Christianity, with the continent home to some 692 million Christians by mid-2022 – making up about 27% of the global Christian population. This proportion is expected to jump to over a third, or about 38.4%, by 2050, with Africa then expected to be home to about 1.3 billion Christians.
Growth of Christianity in the global North trails that in the global South
Christianity in the global North (Europe and North America) is growing at a yearly rate of about 0.13%, lagging behind the 1.79% in the global South (Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania) – fuelled largely by growth in Africa (2.77%). While the number of Christians in the global North rose 77% from 460 million in 1900 to 814 million in 2000, the number in the global South jumped over 1,000%, or more than 10 times, over the century.
The report estimates that there were about 98.4 million Christians in the global South in 1900. By 2000, the figure had soared to 1.17 billion.
Among regions in the North, growth rates for Europe and North America now stand at about 0.06% and 0.27%, respectively. In the South, apart from the above-mentioned Africa and Asia, growth rates for Latin America and Oceania stand at 1.09 % and 0.73 %, respectively.
Proportion of unevangelised has dropped
In 1900, more than half of the world’s population (54.3%) was unevangelised. That has now fallen to 28%. However, the report expects this proportion to mostly stagnate for the next three decades, and forecasts that it might even tip up to 28.3% by 2050.
That said, with a growing community of Christians living outside Christian countries – as at 2000, the proportion of Christians living in Christian countries stood at 59%, down from 95% in 1900 – the population of non-Christians acquainted with Christians has also increased. Currently, about 18.3% of non-Christians know at least one Christian. By 2050, one in five non-Christians would be acquainted with a Christian.
Across the board, people are becoming more religious
Overall, the number of religious people is growing at 1.27%, while the number of non-religious people is growing at less than half that rate, or 0.52%. Agnostics, referring to those who do not believe that it’s possible to know for sure that God exists, are growing at a rate of 0.59%. Atheists, or those who do not believe in a God, are growing at a rate of 0.18%.
Among the religionists, Muslims are growing at the fastest rate of 1.93%, followed by Sikhs at 1.52%, Hindus at 1.21%, and Christians at 1.17%.
Outreach must continue
The number of unevangelised in the world stands at 2,756,702,000, or 28.3%, of the world’s population.
To reach every soul, more than 93 million Bibles will be printed by the middle of this year – up from 5 million a century ago. Currently, almost 1.8 billion Bibles are in circulation around the world. That number will climb to 2.3 billion by 2050.
Books about Christianity are growing at a rate of 3.67%, while Christian periodicals are growing at 4.28%.
While the number of foreign mission sending agencies is growing at 1.62%, the growth rate of actual missionaries sent out to foreign fields pale, at 0.16%.
While we take heart that the Gospel is bearing fruit in the world, may we also not cease proclaiming it as a testimony to all the nations until Matthew 24 comes to pass.
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