While it appears that the church in America is on the decline, the bigger picture is more encouraging. Gordon-Conwell Seminary has a Center for the Study of Global Christianity. It is reporting several positive trends in its report, the 2022 Status of Global Christianity.
To begin with, the number of nonreligious people is dropping. In 1970, the atheists were 165 million. Now they are down to 147 million even with an additional four billion in total population.
Unfortunately, the researchers did not draw a careful line between the true biblical Christian and the Christian in name only, such as Catholicism and some of the other cults. They list a total of 2.56 billion people who identify as a Christian and expect that number to grow beyond 3 billion in the next 30 years.
Roman Catholics are approximately half of that, with a current 1.26 billion. They list the Pentecostal and charismatics as the two fastest growing groups around the world estimating that their total by 2050 could well top 1 billion.
There has also been a major shift with the global South becoming the fastest growing area. In 1900, Christians in Europe numbered twice as many as all of the rest of the world. Now, the researchers estimate that some 838 million live in the global North, while almost 1.1 billion live in Africa and Asia alone.
Another interesting trend is the saturation of Christians in what are considered non-Christian nations. These are countries where a majority of people do not claim to be Christian. In 1900, 95% of all Christians lived in a country where Christians were the majority. Today that number stands at just above 50 percent.
In places like India and the Muslim countries this has led to a great deal of persecution for the Christians. On the other hand, missionaries report that it also led to a significant number who converted to Christianity.
And lastly, it appears that the overall trend is helping to reduce the numberof martyrs. In 2000, the status report showed a rate of 1.6 million Christians killed for their faith over the previous ten-year period. In 2022, their estimate was down to 900,000.
Along with the increase in Christians, there is also an increase in the number of Bibles. They estimate that more than 90 million bibles will be printed this year. That is up from 54 million in the year 2000 and 5 million in 1900. Total number of bibles worldwide was set at 1.8 billion copies.
We are tempted to pray for Jesus to come back quickly and put an end to the mess that Satan’s lies have created on planet earth. However it appears obvious why He may not be in such a hurry. With trends like these that are creating a river of new believers flowing into the Kingdom, It behooves us to get with the program and obey the Great Commission and be part of this world-wide movement.
Spreading gospel tracts in your neighborhood is a good place to start. But many missionaries are desperate for literature that will present the gospel in a compact, portable form. Chick tracts have proven for over 50 years to be a reliable tool, challenging men and women with the claims of the gospel.
If they reject the message, they are without excuse on judgement day. If they accept it, they will be with the rest of us as we gather around the throne to worship our marvelous Creator.