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The status of Global Christianity in 2021

7 trends highlighted

Every year the International Bulletin of Mission Research presents an annual snapshot of global Christianity. The table provides a statistical overview of the world’s 2.5 billion Christians and their activities.

I highlight 7 trends:

1 – The world is becoming more religious, not less

Christianity is growing with 1.18% per year. This is faster than the growth of atheism (0.22%), but slower than Islam (1.92%), Hinduism (1.28%) and Sikhism (1.71%).

2 – The global church is becoming more Evangelical and Charismatic

Of the Christian traditions Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Unaffiliated Christians are lagging behind globally, while the share of Protestants, Independents, Evangelicals and Charismatics is growing.

3 – The Global South is in the lead

Christianity thrives in the Global South, with Africa leading (2.81% annual growth), followed by Asia (1.50%) and Latin America (1.14%). In the Global North there’s almost no growth, with Europe being the laggard (0.01%), followed by Northern America (0.27%). Oceania with Australia and New Zealand is also below average (0.63%). By 2015, 68% of Christians and 84% of Evangelicals were people of color, and this share is increasing.

4 – Cities are the growing mission field

Between 2000 and 2021 the urban population grew with 10% to 56.6%. In 2000 there were 317 cities with over 1 million inhabitants; this increased to 593 in 2021. This same period saw a doubling (!) of urban poor and slum dwellers.
 
5 – Mission is becoming more indigenous and fragmented

The Christian missions force is increasing annually with 0.92% national workers and 0.11% foreign missionaries. The ratio between these two is currently 30:1 – there’s a clear trend towards more indigenous mission, and less dependency on foreign workers. Still, the number of foreign mission agencies increased from 4,000 in 2000 to 5,600 in 2021, which might indicate a fragmentation. The percentage of unevangelized people in the world is slowly declining at a rate of 0.29 per year.

6 – Christian resources are growing

Christian periodicals grow with 4.32% annually, Bibles with 2.52%. The personal income of Christians sees a growth trend of 5.08% annually, and giving to Christian causes 4.75%.

7 – Integrity matters

A more concerning trend is the growth of ecclesiastical crime with 5.22% annually, an incredible 55 billion US dollars per year.

If you're interested in the numbers, you can download the one page summary provided by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

If you wish to stay updated on 'the big picture' – relevant trends and statistics on church growth and world missions – then consider signing up for Joel News if you're not yet receiving this weekly publication. It's a must-read for missional pioneers and innovators in the church. To receive 45 editions this year, go straight here.

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