Christianity is fastest growing religion in world

In this post, growth is defined by reaching people and converting them and an increase in church attendance, not birthrate or immigration. Measured in that way, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world, without a close second.

A Pew Research report says that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. However, in this post it is not about birthrate or immigration, but outreach and converts (including immigrants who convert to Christ). Pew does not predict how many people born in Muslims countries, often in squalor, will convert to Christ, which is happening now.

The growth of Christianity in Islamic countries is all the more remarkable considering that it is a crime, sometimes punishable by death, to leave Islam. Christians in Iran, for example, suffer terrible persecution. Yet Muslims are still converting to Christ rapidly.

See 2016 Open Doors Watch List of the fifty nations that persecute Christians the most severely. Most of them are Islamic.

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

See a long study at this website Freedom of Religion in Early Islam (there is none).

Let’s take it continent by continent:

Africa

Christianity Today reports the church has increased its numbers from 9 million in 1900 to 541 million today, with a 51% increase in the last few years:

The Church has seen dramatic and explosive growth in Asia, Africa and South America. The growth of the African Church in particular is jaw-dropping. In 1900 there were fewer than 9 million Christians in Africa. Now there are more than 541 million. In the last 15 years alone, the Church in Africa has seen a 51 per cent increase, which works out on average at around 33,000 people either becoming Christians or being born into Christian families each day in Africa alone.

Christian Meeting in Nigeria

Source

Another Christian meeting in Africa

Source

Sudan: Despite the terrible persecution of Christians by Muslims, one church growth expert for Frontline Fellowship writes:

Resistance and Growth

Yet [despite persecution] the Church has increased tenfold over the last 40 years. Today the steadfast and resilient Christian Church in South Sudan is one of the fastest growing in the world.

Source

Despite the conflict and the Islamic bulldozing of Christian churches, Christianity is still growing

Source

One thought on Sudan: If Muslims would stop persecuting Christians to the point of bulldozing their churches, Christianity would grow even more rapidly.

In Ethiopia, the church is growing:

• Evangelism and rapid church growth are taking place in all sectors of Ethiopian society. Most evangelical Ethiopian churches have given these high priority. In fact, thousands of people from many religious backgrounds are coming to identify themselves as followers of Jesus. Outsiders invest heavily in these activities.

• There are many seminaries and Bible schools throughout Ethiopia. Therefore, training for Christian leadership is widely available.

• While evangelism is going forward, there is also definite, although low-level, persecution from other religious groups.

 

These believers are waiting to be baptized in Ethiopia

Source

It is ironic that the earliest Muslims during the lifetime of Muhammad fled to Ethiopia, in order to escape persecution from the hands of Meccan pagans.

Asia

Asia Evangelical Alliance reports on these countries:

Nepal: World’s only Hindu kingdom. First church in 1959 and had only 29 members. Today more than 500,000 Christians in Nepal.

Mongolia: 1989 only 4 Christians; Today Over 20,000 Christians

Cambodia: 2 Million deaths during 1975 – 1977. Late 70’s only 2,000 Christians. Today Over 150,000 Christians.

China: 1949 1.2 Million Christians. Severe persecution under Communist rule. Today estimated 100 million Christians.

Underground house church in China, though sometimes Chinese authorities allow Christians to meet publicly

Source

However, in China things are still not rosy: Chinese House Church Leaders and Toddler Arrested After Singing in Public Park: The Communist country proves that it is serious about its newest religious restrictions. Observation on China: How fast would Christianity grow without the persecution!

South Korea: 1884: 1st protestant church planted; 1984: 30,000 Churches
Today: Over 60,000 Churches; – 10 of the world’s largest ‘Mega churches’; Largest sender of missionaries.

South Korean mega-church. The choir is dressed in white

Source

East Asia: 1990 – 22 million Christians; Today over 300 million Christian; Growth rate83%; Evangelical Christians: 140 million.

Pakistan: This country, where Islam has dominated for centuries, hosts huge Christian gatherings.

Gospel meeting in Pakistan

Source

CBS [ secular TV news] Praises “Mom of Pakistan”:

Marilyn Hickey preached to over 1 million people in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, earlier this month. The momentous meeting came during an eight-day mission trip to Pakistan. But that trip and the millions reached for Christ were the fruits of seeds planted years before.

One million people meet in Pakistan and hear the gospel; many of them convert to Christ

Source

India: Hinduism dominates, but the nation hosts huge Christian gatherings.

One million Hindus (and others) heard the gospel, and many converted to Christ at one meeting in India

Source

Indonesia: Virtue Online reports that in a nation of 215 million, mostly Muslim, the church is growing rapidly:

The 2000 census counted just under 10% of Indonesians as Christians, a figure many Christian leaders believe is too low. Anecdotal evidence paints a compelling picture of the faith’s rapid rise. In the early 1960s, for instance, there were no Evangelical churches in Temanggung, where the soccer-field revival took place; now there are more than 40. In the capital Jakarta, newly built megachurches that might seem more at home in Texas send steeples into the sky. Other Christians worship at unofficial churches based in hotels and malls, where Sunday services rival shopping as a popular weekend activity. Asia’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ, built in 2007, presides over Manado city in eastern Indonesia, while Indonesian cable TV beams 24-hour Christian channels.:

Most of these next nations in Table 1 are in Asia and the Arab world:

Table 1. The Top 20 Countries Where Christianity Has the Highest Percentage Growth Rate

Rank Country Continent Christian  AAGR Years to double Majority Religion Percent Christian 1970 Percent Christian 2020

1

Nepal Asia, South Central

10.93%

6.6

Hindu

0.1%

3.8%

2

China Asia, Eastern

10.86%

6.6

Non-religious

0.1%

10.6%

3

United Arab Emirates Arabian Peninsula

9.34%

7.7

Muslim

5.9%

12.9%

4

Saudi Arabia Arabian Peninsula

9.27%

7.8

Muslim

0.3%

4.6%

5

Qatar Arabian Peninsula

7.81%

9.2

Muslim

4.5%

9.5%

6

Oman Arabian Peninsula

7.62%

9.4

Muslim

0.5%

4.6%

7

Yemen Arabian Peninsula

7.09%

9.1

Muslim

0.0%

0.2%

8

Mongolia Asia, Eastern

5.96%

12.1

Buddhist

0.3%

2.0%

9

Cambodia Asia, South-eastern

5.87%

12.3

Buddhist

0.5%

3.6%

10

Bahrain Arabian Peninsula

5.49%

13.1

Muslim

3.9%

7.9%

11

Benin Africa, Western

4.85%

14.8

Christian

18.1%

47.8%

12

Burkina Faso Africa, Western

4.81%

15.0

Muslim

9.0%

24.8%

13

South Sudan Africa, Eastern

4.67%

15.4

Christian

22.7%

63.8%

14

Bhutan Asia, South Central

4.60%

15.7

Buddhist

0.3%

1.1%

15

Mali Africa, Western

4.54%

15.9

Muslim

1.4%

3.8%

16

Brunei Asia, South-eastern

4.49%

16.0

Muslim

5.8%

14.1%

17

Guinea Africa, Western

4.44%

16.2

Muslim

1.3%

3.8%

18

Kuwait Arabian Peninsula

4.26%

16.9

Muslim

5.1%

9.2%

19

Singapore Asia, South-eastern

4.12%

16.3

Buddhist

7.8%

21.7%

20

Turks and Caicos Islands Caribbean

3.97%

18.1

Christian

99.5%

91.6%

What’s happening in these countries?

  • Are you surprised to see that 19 of the countries in the top 20 are in Asia and Africa?
  • Did you notice 11 countries on the top 20 list are Muslim majority countries?
  • Did you catch that not a single country from Europe, Northern America or Latin America makes the top 20 list?
  • Did you notice the world’s newest country, South Sudan? South Sudan became an independent country in July 2011, separating from the Muslim majority of Northern Sudan.
  • Did you see that 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)
  • Did you observe that the majority of the top 20 countries are clustered in three areas: Eastern Asia, Western Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Source

Joyful Christians in Iraq:

Iraqi Christians pray during Easter Mass at Baghdad’s Christian Union Evangelical Church, in Iraq, Sunday, March, 27, 2016. Christians across the world are celebrating Easter, commemorating the day followers believe Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Source

Kasr El Dobara in Cairo is the largest evangelical church in the middle east. Started in 1948, it has grown to a membership of 8,000 members. (Source)

A meeting at al-Dobara church in Cairo

Source

Australia

Traditional Christianity is declining, but Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Renewal are reversing that trend: Leftwing newspaper the Guardian reports:

Members of the Pentecostal church increased from nearly 220,000 in 2006 and 238,000 in 2011 to 260,500 last year, according to the 2016 census results released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.

It has grown particularly among young people, with increases in the 0-14 (the largest share of affiliates), 15-24 and 25-34 age profiles recorded in each census from 2006.

Due to immigration of people belonging to other religions, it can at first glance appear that these new religions are the fastest growing. But immigration does not mean a total number of converts.

Hillsong Conference in Sydney

Source

Planetshakers is another mega-church in Australia with churches all over the world.

Planetshakers’ meeting in Australia

Source

 

Europe

Let’s start with the big picture.

Christianity Today reports:

Molly Wall, the programme director of Operation World, adds that amid concern for the overall decline in Christians [in Europe], evangelicals in Europe can feel encouraged as “evangelical Christianity grew in strength and confidence in most European countries from the 1990s to the present, even while the overall population grew slowly or even declined”.

In other words, traditional Christianity is declining, while Evangelical Christianity is increasing.

At Hillsong Conference in UK, ten thousand attend

Source

Moscow Church Spearheads Russia Revival: “Despite social and political upheaval, Russia is witnessing a Christian revival. At the heart of this powerful move of God is the Moscow Good News Church.”

The Protestant movement is growing very strongly. Americans Rick and Denise Renner are at the forefront of the movement. In 1991, the couple moved their family to what is now the former Soviet Union with the goal of reaching Russians with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nine years later, in September 2000, they started Moscow Good News Church in the Russian capital city. Moscow Church is approximately 3,500 people in regular attendance.

An Evangelical Preacher’s Message Catches Fire in Ukraine:

“We are always thinking, how can we make the Bible still relevant? The same values, the same product. But not doing it in the Orthodox old style,” Sunday Adelaja said. Credit Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times

Muslim Refugees Converting to Christianity in Berlin Church:

According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, many Muslims who have fled their homes in Iran and Afghanistan are converting to the Christian faith, with the Evangelical Trinity Church reporting that the community has grown from a mere 150 to 600 members in just two years.

Mohammed Ali Zonoobi, an Iranian who sought asylum in Germany was recently baptized and shared his story. “I feel like I am born again,” he said in tears.

Zonoobi’s name has now been changed to Martin as he is no longer a Muslim, but a full-blown Christian who made an oath with God that he will “break away from Islam.”

 

Muslims convert to Christ in Berlin

Hundreds of Muslims converting to Christianity in Finland, churches say

Evangelical Religious Teaching class Imatra, Finland; photo: Kari Kosenen / Yle

Source

Large church in Berlin: Berlin International Community Church:

Berlin International Community Church

France has immigration, both from Muslim nations and sub-Saharan Christian nations, so let’s track the growth of churches, regardless of the origins of who attends.

Hillsong Church in France: Large church in Paris:

Hillsong Church in Paris is part of a network of churches in France.

Three new evangelical churches open in France every month:

The number of worship places has increased tenfold in 60 years. There are 650,000 evangelical Christians in France, a new study shows.

This newest study was made public on January 3 by Daniel Liechti, the President of the New Church Plants Committee of the CNEF. He told French newspaper La Croix, that the growth of evangelical Christians in France has been steady in the last 20 years. “Within two years, we may be able to say that this pace is even accelerating slightly more”, he added. The study deducts the number churches that have been closed. It therefore shows the “actual growth” of churches, Liechti said. It needs to be said that this data only include the churches who are members of the CNEF, an evangelical representative umbrella which unites about 70% of all evangelical churches in France. …

In the last 60 years, the number of active members of evangelical churches has increased tenfold.

 

A church at Chelles, France; one sample of many churches / La Croix

Source

Spain: 12 evangelical churches open every month:

Evangelical Christians are the biggest faith minority in the country. The steep fall of Roman Catholic believers contrasts with the growth of Atheism.

In Spain, there are almost 4,000 evangelical places of worship. This is one of the the data included in the latest annual Religious Plurality report of the Spanish government. According to the figures made available in December 2016, the traditionally Catholic country is becoming more and more diverse.

EVANGELICALS ARE FASTEST GROWING FAITH GROUP Evangelical Christianity is the confession which experiences the greatest growth in the country. There are 3,910 registered churches of this confession. This last year, 141 evangelical churches have opened, nearly 12 every month. Evangelical churches represent 57% of all the worship places of faith minorities. Muslims have 1,508 registered worship places, followed by Jehovah’s Witnesses (650), Orthodox Christians (197), Buddhists (155), Mormons (119), Baha’is and Jews (36).

 

Cities in Spain in which there are at least two Evangelical worship places. / Observatorio Pluralismo Religios de España

Source

Mega-Church in Stockholm, Sweden:

Hillsong Stockholm is part of a network of churches in Sweden

 

Hillsong in Copenhagen, Denmark:

Hillsong Copenhagen is part of a network of churches in Denmark

 

North America 

Newsmax’s Top 50 Megachurches in America

Megachurches are the spiritual phenomenon of the 21st century; there are more churches with 5,000 people attending weekly services than at any other time in history. So much for those who claim ad nauseam that faith is declining in our country.

In compiling this list, Newsmax has elected to organize these churches based upon their overall influence rather than by their size (others do that regularly). While influence is notoriously subjective and therefore difficult to quantify, we based our list on the notoriety of the megachurches’ leaders, the reach of their books, the ratings of their television and radio programs, and the way the public views them.

 

For every mega-church in America, there are hundreds of mid-sized or small churches.

As for Mexico, Public Radio International reports:

In 1970, according to census figures, 96 percent of Mexicans claimed to be Catholics, but that figure had dropped to about 80 percent by 2010. Evangelicals are filling part of that spiritual gap.

According to Open Doors Watch List of Persecution, Mexico ranks 40 out of 50, in “High Persecution,” coming from organized corruption.

Muslim migration causes an artificial surge in Islam’s growth rate in North America and Europe, but the goal in this post is to track conversions and church growth.

 

South America

Washington Post reports:

The growth of Pentecostalism in Latin America is estimated to be at three times the rate of Catholic growth. Non-Catholic believers now account for 2 percent of Latin America’s 550 million Christians.

Today, Brazil not only has more Catholics than any other country, but also more Pentecostals, reflecting Pentecostalism’s astonishing global growth. Tracing its roots to the Azusa Street revival in 1910, and comprising 5 percent of Christians in 1970, today one of four Christians is Pentecostal or Charismatic. Or think of it this way: one out of 12 people alive today has a Pentecostal form of Christian faith.

Christian Meeting in Brazil

Source

The preacher is David Yonggi Cho, pastor of the world’s largest church, S. Korea; over 800,000 attend his church. He holds “crusades” all over the world, like Brazil.

Source

Hillsong in Argentina, during its launch. It has grown bigger since then.

Source

Central America

This post (here) has a list of mega-churches in Central America. Listing them by attendance numbers, here are the churches with 25,000+:

25,000+

“Friends of Israel” Bible Baptist Tabernacle –
Tabernaculo Bíblico Bautista “Amigos de Israel” –
Pastor Brother Toby – Dr. Edgar López Bertrand
(International Baptist Mission – Fundamentalist)
Colonia San Benito, San Salvador, El Salvador
Auditorium seats 10,000 people; has six Sunday worship services
Total estimated Sunday attendance = 48,000

International Harvest Ministry of Honduras –
Ministerio Internacional La Cosecha Honduras
(International Church of the Foursquare Gospel)
Pastor General Misael Argenal Rodríguez
Located in San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Auditorium seats 30,000 people; total attendance unknown.

Iglesia Elim Central de San Salvador –
Misión Cristiana Elim Internacional
(independent Pentecostal)
Pastor General Mario Vega
Calle al Matazano, Final Colonia Santa Lucía
San Salvador, El Salvador
Auditorium seats 5,000 people; has five Sunday worship services
Total estimated Sunday attendance = 22,000

Source 

 

One church service among many other services at La Cosecha Ministries International, Honduras, one sample church in Central America.

Source

Chile and elsewhere in South America:

The Jotabeche Church [in Chile] has 350,000 members—which makes it the second largest in the world. The size and growth of this church are a prime example of an explosion of church growth in Latin America. The numerical growth alone of these churches is cause for wonder: in 1900, there were only 50,000 Protestants in Latin America. In the 1980s, they had grown to 50,000,000, and by the year 2000, they reached 137,000,000.

Source

Conclusion

This post is not about birthrates or immigration. It is about conversions.

Countless numbers of people in the Islamic world are converting to Christ, even when shariah law forbids it.

If Muslims countries ever allowed freedom of religion, then it is not hard to predict that countless numbers of Muslims would leave harsh sharia and embrace the gospel of grace of Jesus Christ.

See Thirty Shariah Laws for evidence of how harsh it is.

See also Ten Sharia Laws that Oppress Women.

In terms of growth by conversion and preaching (not terrorism or forceful shariah), the religion of Islam is in retreat around the globe, except perhaps in the West, but even there Evangelical Christianity is growing rapidly. In Spain, for example, Evangelical churches outnumber Muslim worship places.

Countless numbers of people in religions other than Islam are also converting to Christ.

In Europe, the old Cathedrals are empty, but the living church is growing.

For the record, I place Roman Catholicism under the heading “Christianity,” and we have not discussed this church’s growth or decline, except only in passing.

Non-Western churches are growing the fastest.

Across the globe, Christianity is the fastest growing religion, without a close second.

RELATED (onsite)

Jesus and Muhammad: Fifteen Major Differences

Ten Big Differences between Christianity and Other Religions

Articles in World Religions Outline series (in alphabetical order):

Outline of Buddhism

Outline of Christianity

Outline of Confucianism

Outline of Hinduism

Outline of Islam

Outline of Judaism

Outline of of Shintoism

Outline of Sikhism

Outline of Taoism

Outline of Zoroastrianism

Each of those posts has a Christian Reaction and Reply at the end.

RELATED (Offsite)

Christianity in its global context

Islam is not the fastest growing religion in the world

This latter article concludes in 2004 (slightly edited):

  1. There are more new Christians added to the world population than any other religion on earth every day. These data makes the entire discussion about “rates of growth” irrelevant. The fact is that today Christianity is the fastest growing religion on this most critical basis. This may change, but today, in 2004 AD, Christians take the prize for being the fastest growing religion.
  2. On none of the 6 continents are Muslims the fastest growing religion.
  3. That Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world is pure myth at best and at worst a deliberate deception of solid statistical facts.

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