From the Economist:
Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity is growing more quickly in Asia than most parts of the world, with over 200m adherents in 2015, up from 17m in 1970. The largest congregations are in South Korea and the Philippines, where dazzlingly large mega-churches hold tens of thousands of people. But Christian zeal is also increasing in other parts of the continent, including Indonesia and Malaysia, where proselytising among the Muslim majority is well nigh impossible, but where Buddhists, Confucians and Christians of other denominations, almost all of them ethnically Chinese, are proving receptive.
According to Pew Research Christians remained the largest religious group in the world in 2015, making up nearly a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people. But the number of Christians in Europe, is in decline.
But among Christians in Europe deaths outnumbered births by nearly 6 million from 2010 to 2015. In Germany alone, there were an estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births.
Demographics is destiny. Unless you start winning Europeans who are far from God.
According to Pew Research:
Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion, mostly because Muslims are younger and have more children than any other religious group globally. By 2050, the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians.
The growth of Christianity is keeping pace with world population growth. All other faiths, except Islam, have plateaued or are declining in their percentage share of the world’s growing population. Even the percentage of religiously unaffiliated is declining.
The world is becoming more religious due mainly to the growth in Islam and Christianity. I don’t think anyone predicted this trend.
A generation ago the assumption was the ultimate triumph of secularism.
They identified the top 20 countries that have the highest percentage Christianity Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR). The number of years for the number of Christians to double, based on the Average Annual Growth Rate has also been calculated.
Notice a few things:
- 19 of the countries in the top 20 are in Asia and Africa.
- 11 countries on the top 20 list are Muslim majority countries.
- not a single country from Europe, Northern America or Latin America makes the top 20 list
- the highest Christian growth rates are found among all major non-Christian religious groups: Hindus, Non-Religious, Buddhists, Muslims and Ethno-religionists (Benin and South Sudan)?
- the majority of the top 20 countries are clustered in three areas: Eastern Asia, Western Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
My notes on some of the reasons for the growth of (Protestant = evangelical) Christianity in China given by Stark and Wang :
Persecution was the single most important factor in the growth of Christianity in China since 1949. By expelling Western missionaries the Communists completed the transformation of Protestantism in China into an entirely Chinese movement.
Some Western Protestant missionaries had begun to lose faith not only in missions but in Christianity. Their expulsion protected the Chinese church from the debilitating influence of theological liberalism. Luke-warm liberalism cannot generate high levels of commitment.
Persecution results in a high level of member intensity. High levels of commitment are required for rapid growth. Committed people share their faith with others.
Most conversions occur through networks of interpersonal relationships. Conversion is not a very visible phenomenon. To deprive a faith of a public presence has little impact on its growth if members are engaged privately in converting their friends and family.
During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) most churches were destroyed or converted into other uses. Thousands of clergy were jailed or forced into re-education camps. The Catholics were vulnerable due to their hierarchical structure and dependence on ordained clergy and sacred buildings. Soon their was an acute shortage of priests. Without priests there were no Masses and no baptisms.
In contrast, Protestants had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of preachers, male and female. Any devoted believer can conduct a church gathering. Protestants are able to pray, read the Bible and worship in homes.
In 1950 the Catholics outnumbered Protestants by 3 to 1. Today Catholics are outnumbered by Protestants 10 to one and the ratio is increasing.