Status of Global Christianity, 2018

Posted By Renita Reed on Dec 31, 2018 |


This is the time when many of us look at statistics from the past year, personal, national, or international. In my study, I have been reading statistics about the status of Global Christianity, especially from 1900-2050, and thought I would share some of these with you.

Here are some facts from a report from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary:

  • Christianity is projected to hold its own in terms of percentage of the world.  In 1900 it was 34.4%.  In 2050, it is expected to be 35.3%.  Not much change in terms of percentage but the overall number has gone from 500 million to 2.5 billion today.
  • The number of congregations will have increased from 400,000 in 1900 to 9,000,000 in 2050.
  • The number of denominations will have increased from 1,600 in 1900 to 70,000 in 2050.
  • One number my husband might like:  Book titles about Christianity will have increased from 300,000 in the year 1900, to 14,500,000 book titles in 2050.
  • Personal income of Christians was $270 billion in 1900 and will increase to $200,000 billion in 2050.  This year, 2018, it is $57,000 billion.

The history of giving as it relates to churches and Christians is also interesting.  Giving to Christian causes was at $8 billion in the year 1900.  It is now at $960 billion and is expected to go up to $3,300 billion in the year 2050. The Christian community has been very generous and faith-based organizations actually account for nearly 60% of US-based foreign aid organizations.

What do churches give to?  Evangelism is definitely #1, with church planting right behind.  The chart on the right shows the breakdown of average giving for churches.  For my particular study, it is telling that creation care is at the bottom of the list, while business as mission fares a bit better.

One surprising statistic in the middle of all the numbers was this:

Ecclesiastical crime:  in 1900, it was $300,000.  In 1970, it was $5,000,000.  In 2000, $19 billion.  In 2018, $63 billion.  In 2025, $80 billion.  In 2050, $250 billion.  The footnote to this statistic says, “Amounts embezzled by top custodians of Christian monies (US dollar equivalents, per year).”  Wow.  This seems to be about 7-8% of the giving received.

A startling statistic to read.

So the Global Christian Church is giving at about 1.6% and of that amount, we are losing 10% to ecclesiastical crime. This is very sad as we know that the impact of this number is far beyond simply a loss of money.  It goes to the reputation of the Church and is a poor reflection on Jesus. [It makes the class that I teach in seminaries on Integrity and Finance so important, but also a definite sense of swimming upstream.  How I wish all seminaries would include a class like this in their curriculum!]

It tells us the capacity that we could have if we could unify ourselves better, commit to giving, and have better transparency and accountability in the Church.  We certainly have our work cut out for us in 2019 and beyond!

Let’s continue to pray for wisdom for the days in front of us, as well as discernment and courage to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit!

We wish you all a blessed New Year in 2019, and pray that we may continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

[To see the full report on the status of Global Christianity, click here.]