pewforum.org Topics Religious Affiliation Christian

Global Christianity

A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population

 




Christian Movements and Denominations

According to a Pew Forum analysis of estimates from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are about 279 million pentecostal Christians and 305 million charismatic Christians in the world. (For definitions, see Defining Christian Movements.) This means that, according to this analysis, pentecostal and charismatic Christians together make up about 27% of all Christians and more than 8% of the world’s total population.15 (As noted in the Executive Summary, these estimates are based primarily on numbers provided by Christian organizations and are derived differently from the other figures in this study, which are based mainly on censuses and surveys; see Methodology for Estimating Christian Movements (PDF) for more details.)
 

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In addition, more than 285 million Christians are classified by the CSGC as evangelical, either because they belong to churches affiliated with regional or global evangelical associations or because they identify as evangelicals. Because many pentecostals and charismatics also are evangelicals, these categories are not mutually exclusive; the number of evangelicals should not be added to the number of pentecostal and charismatic Christians.

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The Pew Forum’s analysis of CSGC data estimates that about eight-in-ten of the world’s pentecostals reside either in sub-Saharan Africa (44%) or in the Americas (37%). According to this analysis, 15% of the total population in sub-Saharan Africa is pentecostal, as is 11% of the population in the Americas. Nearly one-in-six (16%) pentecostals live in Asia and the Pacific, although only about 1% of the total population of the region is pentecostal.

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Almost half (49%) of all charismatic Christians in the world live in the Americas, a region in which 16% of the population is charismatic. Nearly 30% of charismatics live in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sub-Saharan Africa has both the greatest concentration of evangelical Christians (13% of sub-Saharan Africa is evangelical) and the largest share of the world’s evangelicals (38%). About one-in-three evangelicals live in the Americas (33%) and roughly one-in-five reside in the Asia-Pacific region (21%).

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity collects membership data from Christian denominations around the world. Many churches in the Protestant category, as broadly defined in this report, can be considered independent, nondenominational or part of a denominational family that is very small or otherwise difficult to classify. However, Pew Forum analysis of data from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity indicates that the largest distinct denominational families are Anglican (about 11% of the broad Protestant category), Lutheran (about 10%), Baptist (9%) and Reformed/Presbyterian (7%).

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Footnotes: 

15 The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) has a slightly larger estimate of the total 2010 Christian population (2.27 billion) than the Pew Forum does (2.18 billion). Therefore, the combined pentecostal and charismatic population of 584 million equals a smaller share of the CSGC’s Christian universe (25.7%). (return to text)