Decline of Christians in the West is balanced by the rise of Global South followers of Christ

Ululating at Gamasara church

More Christians are alive now than have ever been on the Earth and this is predicted by researchers to persist.

Despite the rise of secularism in the West, Christians are at least holding their own as a percentage of the earth population – and are likely to remain the largest religious group on the planet over the next few decades.

This prediction is echoed by several sources – for example a major study by the Pew Foundation. The The Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, based on surveys in 95 countries and 130 languages predicts that Christians , who were 31.4 per cent of the global population in 20120 will be the same proportion in 2050. However Islam will have seen an increase in its share of the global population.

That percentage equates to about 2.6 billion people.

The Christian population is projected to surpass 3 billion by 2050 according to the The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

A report by the Lausanne Movement State of the Great Commission predicts that in 2050 most Christians will live in Africa. The regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America will all outnumber both North America and Europe. Middle Africa is experiencing a 3.27 annual growth.

Pew predicts that ten years further on, in 2060, Africa “more than four-in-ten of the world’s Christians are projected to live in sub-Saharan Africa, while fewer than a quarter will live in Europe and North America combined, if current trends continue.”

An analysis for Lausanne’s State of the Great commission by Wanjiru Gitau, Seyram Amenyedzi & Fohle Lygunda suggests that Christians need to update their view of African christianity.

“It is improper to parrot the notion that African Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep, or that it is devoid of theological training and resources. In recent decades, much Christian mission effort has gone into starting Bible schools, seminaries, and universities led by local leaders and faculty. In Ghana, for instance, churches have upgraded their seminaries into universities, such as Central University, Pentecost University, and Regent University of Science and Technology. In Kenya, government regulations required an upgrade of seminaries into universities. In Southern Africa, the influence of digitalization has enhanced access to Christian education. Further, global organizations like Langham Publishers, Oasis International, and Tyndale House among many others support theological publishing and access to theological material in Africa. The Africa Leadership Survey revealed that Africans are in fact avid readers of the Bible and a variety of devotional and theological books.”

However the continent is huge and many countries are far less resourced than the nations referenced in this commentary. Having visited several Bible colleges in Tanzania following last year’s Gafcon conference, libraries are tiny, and there is a lack of resources in local languages.

Image: Ululating at Gamasara church, in rural Tanzania