Our view of Christianity is limited. We often only directly observe and experience the movement of God’s Kingdom in our local context. Even mission trips to other areas only give us a brief glimpse at the work of Christ somewhere else.

We can expand our gaze across time by reading church history and seeing how God moved in previous generations. We can also examine stories and statistics of what is happening around the world in our day.

These eight trends from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s 2024 report may give you a better picture of global Christianity and help you see the expansiveness of God’s work.

  1. Christianity is growing

This may surprise many, but Christianity is growing around the world and is growing faster than the rate of population. From 2020 to the mid-point of 2024, the world’s population is expected to grow from almost 6.15 billion people to more than 8.11 billion, a 0.87 percent growth trend. The number of Christians worldwide is expected to climb from more than 2.52 billion to 2.63 billion, a 1.08 percent growth. The Christian population is projected to top 3 billion before 2050.

  1. Some groups are growing even faster

While Christianity is growing as a whole, certain branches are experiencing even more growth. Protestants (1.63 percent), independents (1.96 percent), evangelicals (1.66 percent), and Pentecostal/charismatics (1.48 percent) are the fastest-growing groups.

The number of global Protestants is expected to climb to more than 625 million this year. Evangelicals number more than 400 million. Pentecostals continue to experience rapid growth, climbing from less than a million in 1900 to projections of topping a billion by 2050.

  1. Africa and Asia are experiencing rapid growth

The fastest-growing areas for Christianity are in the global south, particularly Asia and Africa. Asia is home to more than 415 million Christians and growing at a rate of 2.11 percent. Meanwhile, 734 million Christians live in Africa, where the faith is growing at a 2.64 percent rate.

At the turn of the 20th century, Africa was home to less than 10 million Christians, fewer than any other region except Oceania. By 2000, the Christian population in Africa had exploded to more than 383 million. In 2020, more Christians lived in Africa than any other region of the world. By 2050, with a Christian population of more than 1.28 billion, more Christians will call Africa home than the next two most populous regions—Asia and Latin America—combined.

  1. Christianity is spreading globally

Not only is the faith growing around the world, but it’s also expanding to new places. In 1900, 95 percent of the world’s Christians lived in predominantly Christian countries. The overall trend is more Christians living in diverse places, with the percentage living in Christian countries declining by 0.17 percent between 2020 and this year. Currently, 51.6 percent of Christians live in Christian nations. By 2050, that is projected to be the case for less than half of Christians (49.4 percent).

  1. Atheism is shrinking

While Christianity and other religions are growing around the world, the global atheist population is falling. The current growth trend for atheism is -0.12 percent, with their number falling from 147 million in 2020 to 146 million in 2024. Atheism peaked around 1970 with 165 million people.

Meanwhile, agnostics are barely growing with a 0.09 percent growth, climbing from 744 million in 2020 to 756 million this year. Within the next decades, agnosticism is also projected to decline. Overall, non-religionists, atheists and agnostics combined will fall to less than 849 million by 2050. They’ll be outnumbered by Catholics (1.5 billion), Protestants (870 million) and Pentecostals (1 billion), as well as by Christians living in Africa (1.28 billion).

  1. More churches are being planted and missionaries sent out

Over the past 120 years, the number of churches increased tenfold, growing from 400,000 in 1900 to more than 4 million in 2020. This year that number is expected to reach 4.2 million. By 2050, the number of congregations worldwide will top 5.4 million.

The last century also saw an explosion of international missionaries. The number sent out climbed from 62,000 in 1900 to 420,000 in 2000. That’s projected to reach 445,000 this year and 600,000 by 2050.

  1. Fewer people are without access to the Gospel

In 1900, more than half of the world (54.3 percent) didn’t have access to the Gospel. That percentage fell throughout the 20th century, reaching 30.1 percent in 2000. This year, the percentage is expected to remain steady at 27.8 percent.

Additionally, more people have Scripture in their language. In 1900, only 227 languages had New Testament translations. That number is projected to reach 2,400 this year and close to double to 4,200 by 2050.

  1. More money is being given to Christian causes

In the United States, giving to Christian causes is expected to top $1.3 trillion in 2024. In 1900, $8 billion was given, $70 billion in 1970, $320 billion in 2000, and $1 trillion in 2020. Projections set the giving in 2050 at $5.2 trillion.


Photo by Saj Shafique on Unsplash