Conversions propelling growth of Christianity round the world: The Church of England Newspaper, July 5, 2013 July 10, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Global South.
Tags: demography, evangelism, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Anglicanism was the fastest-growing major Christian tradition in Africa between 1970 and 2010, while the centre of gravity of Christianity has shifted to the Global South, reports a study published by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts,.
Demographic data published in “Christianity in Its Global Context, 1970–2020: Society, Religion, and Mission” reports that while agnosticism and atheism has grown in Europe and Christianity plateaued, Europe remains the exception on the world scene as religions continue to gather new adherents round the world.
Among the papers findings was that In 1970, Africa was 38.7 per cent Christian (143 million) and by 2020 the continent “will likely be 49.3 per cent % Christian (631 million).”
Within the Christian population Anglicans in Africa grew from 7.7 million in 1970 to 50.8 million in 2010 and are expected to “reach 65 million by 2020”.
Between 1970 and 2010 the number of Roman Catholics in Africa rose from 44.9 million (6.8 per cent of Catholics globally) to 197.0 million (15.2 per cent). By 2020 “there will be 232 million Roman Catholics in Africa, or 18.0 per cent of the world’s Catholics.”
In 1970 Islam replaced local religions as Africa’s largest faith group. But over the past forty years Christianity has outstripped Islam and “by 2020 Africa will be 49.3per cent Christian, 41.7 per cent Muslim, and 8.7 per cent ethnoreligionist.”
Christianity will likely average 2.1 per cent growth annually in Asia, more than twice the rate of growth for the general population (0.9 per cent) with much of the growth fueled by conversions.
However many historic Christian communities in Western Asia—notably those in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq—have been emigrating because of ongoing conflict and violence in the region. In 1970 Western Asia was 7.3 per cent Christian, but “by 2020 the region will likely be only 5.4 per cent Christian.”
The report found Christianity was on the decline in Europe largely because of secularization, but the continent was also becoming increasingly more religiously diverse because of immigration.
Christianity in Europe experienced growth between 1970 and 2010—492 million (75.0 per cent) to 580 million (78.6 per cent)—largely because of a resurgence of religion in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union. Between 2010 and 2020, however, the Christian population “will plateau and the Christian share of the total population will decline (to 78.0 per cent), largely because of deaths and because of individuals leaving the faith,” the report stated.
Muslims will grow from 2.7% of the population in 1970 (18 million) to 5.9% in 2020 (44 million), likely because of immigration and lower-than-average European birth rates.
The paper concludes the fundamental shifts in the demographics of global Christianity and religion are continuing into the twenty-first century. “The percentage of Christians from the Global South is still increasing, but the personal-contact gap between Christians and non-Christians continues to be very wide. Christians are also struggling, along with the entire development community, to address critical social and economic issues. A central problem appears to be uneven resource distribution in a multitude of areas. Christian resources are poorly deployed and not reaching those who could benefit most from them, in terms of both mission and social action. Yet, Christian involvement in spiritual and social transformation has never been greater, and it remains to be seen how effective Christians in both the North and the South will be in carrying out global, integral mission.”
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.