Written by Chris DeWelt
In 2015, the well-known and highly respected organization, Pew Research Center, released a landmark study titled: “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050.” It is easily accessible on the Pew Foundation website, so take a look at this study and the many other excellent resources available.
Although it is a few years old, the Pew report indicates many things regarding the future of the church given the current trends and their estimation of where things are headed. Here are a few things that they see coming by the year 2050 along with my comments:
- The percentage of the world that labels itself as Christian will remain steady at 31.4%. While this is an impressive portion of humanity, that percentage has not changed in more than 100 years.
- By the year 2050, Islam will have grown by over one billion people and will be much closer to the total number of Christians world-wide. The estimate is that there will be 2.76 billion Muslims in 2050.
- Christian faith will decline in the West, but will grow significantly in what is called “the global South.” This means, among other things, that Africa will become the continent with the most Christians by 2050.
- The decline of the church in Europe has been precipitous and will only continue. The European Christian population stood at 66% in 1910, but fell steeply to 26% in 2015 and is projected to fall further to 16% by 2050.
- The USA number of Christians stands at a sizeable 78.3% but will drop to 66.4% by 2050.
- Agnosticism and atheism will shrink world-wide. Pew’s statistics indicate that the number of “unaffiliated” will decline from 16% to 13% in the coming years even as it increases slightly in the West.
- The Pew report reports much lower numbers for the growth of the Chinese church than what is seen in other reputable sources. A common statistic in recent years asserts that the Chinese church has exceeded the one hundred million mark some time ago and that it continues to grow. Pew places the Chinese church at 68 million as of 2015.
These seven points are just a few observations that I am making based on the data found in the Pew research. I'd invite you to explore it for yourself and would be very glad to read your takeaways should you wish to share them with me.
Here are five important reminders when it comes to looking into the future of Christ's church and what will happen next:
- This Gospel will be preached to all nations! (Matthew 24:14)
- All nations will gather at the Throne! (Revelation 7:9-10)
- The knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the seas! (Habakkuk 2:14)
- The Abrahamic blessing will find its way, by means of its messengers, to the nations! (Genesis 12:2-3)
- Jesus knew what He was talking about when he said that repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed to all nations. (Luke 24:45-47)
So take heart Christian! The future is bright! Gloriously bright!