The San Francisco Bay Area has a number of micro-climates. It can be clear and sunny and warm in the East Bay, and cold and foggy and dreary in San Francisco just across the Bay. I can look out one window and see black, menacing clouds and then walk across the room, look out the other window, and see nothing but sunny skies. Social media is like that. One portal opens to a gloomy world of nations in chaos, governments in crisis, and people in confusion. Another portal opens to men and women of vision who see nothing but blue skies ahead.
Christian social media acts in a comparable manner. One portal opens to a racist and sexist church, fallen pastors, enabling boards, shrinking membership, and youth pastors and worship leaders in theological crisis who walk away from Christianity. Another click takes you to a vision of a healthy and robust Christianity that is overcoming all that is against it and is influencing and shaping the nations. What’s the weather report for the Church? It all depends on what window you’re looking out. Here’s the report from a window I looked out yesterday.
Here are some significant trends of Christianity happening around the world.
1. Both Africa and Latin America have more Christians than Europe.
In 1900, twice as many Christians lived in Europe than in the rest of the world. Today, the Christian population in Europe has a flat growth rate, while Africa and Asia continue to experience dramatic growth. Currently, almost 640 million Christians live in Africa and 604 million in Asia, while 544 million call Europe home.
2. Evangelical Christianity is at home in the global South.
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia: The number of Evangelicals in the world has increased from 112 million in 1970 to 386 million in 2020. Globally, Evangelicalism is a predominantly non-White movement within Christianity, and is becoming increasingly more so, with 77% of all Evangelicals living in the Global South in 2020. This is up from only 7.8% in 1900.
3. Christianity is growing at five times the rate as atheism.
There are fewer atheists around the world now (147 million) than there were in 1970 (165 million). In recent decades, atheism has started to experience minor growth but only at a 0.22% rate. Christianity, on the other hand, is growing at 1.19% rate & is expected to continue to grow & add adherents globally.
4. By 2050, Charismatic Christians will outnumber the non-religious.
The total of all non-religious individuals around the world currently sits at more than 878 million, while Pentecostal/ Charismatic Christians number 644 million. In the next 30 years, however, that branch of Christianity will top 1 billion, while the non-religious will be closing in on 850 million.
5. Christianity will top 3 billion adherents before 2050.
Currently, Christianity is the only religion with more than 2B followers. In the next five years, Islam will cross that threshold. Hinduism recently topped 1B. By 2050, Christianity will be the first to reach 3B. More than 3.4 billion people will be Christians then, according to the Gordon Conwell projections.
6. By 2050, almost 1.3 billion Christians will live in Africa.
As Christianity continues to grow worldwide, the main driver of the growth remains Africa, increasing at a 2.86% rate. Before 2050, it will be the 1st continent that is home to more than 1 billion Christians.
7. The percentage of the world that remains unevangelized continues to fall.
While there are more than twice as many unevangelized people alive today than 100 years ago, they represent a smaller number than ever before. In 1900, more than half the world’s population was unevangelized (54.3%). In 2020, that percentage has decreased to 28.3%.
8. The number of Christian martyrs is falling after spiking in the late 1900s.
While persecution remains a significant issue for Christians globally, the number of martyrs has fallen since 1970, according to Gordon Conwell. Then, 3.7 million Christians were killed every 10 years. Today, that number is closer to 900,000 every decade.
In addition to these encouraging trends, Muslims are coming to Christ in unprecedented numbers.
Yes, there are racist and sexist churches, some pastors will fall into moral failure, there will be church boards that seek to cover this up, some churches will continue to shrink in membership, and there will be youth pastors and worship leaders who find themselves in theological crisis and will walk away from Christianity. But come with me and look out this other window and be encouraged as The Gospel wins and shapes more and more people.
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS