The Top 20 Countries where Christianity is Growing the Fastest

top 20Where is Christianity growing the fastest? The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, based at Gordon Conwell Seminary, published In June 2013 an excellent report regarding Christianity in its Global Context. The full report can be found online at www.globalchristianity.org/globalcontext. From this report I identified the top 20 countries that have the highest percentage Christianity Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR). They are listed in Table 1.  I have also calculated the number of years for the number of Christians to double, based on the Average Annual Growth Rate.  

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.

Clearly some interesting things are happening in these countries. I shall look a bit deeper at what factors are contributing to the growth of Christianity in each area.

Asia heads of the pack

Asia AAGR

The primary growth factor in Asia is conversion growth. China, Nepal, Cambodia and Mongolia have high conversation rates among their indigenous people.  The majority of becoming Christians come from non-religious, Buddhist and Hindu backgrounds. The conversion rate is two to eight times higher (in the case of China) than rate of population growth. Currently China has the third highest number of Christians in the world, following the United States and Brazil. Keep your eye on China. If the high growth rate continues, China may become the country with the most Christians by 2030. In an earlier post I’ve explained some of what is happening in Mongolia. (Link)

Table 2 contains the Population Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) and the calculation of the Net Christian Average Annual Growth Rate, which represents conversion. Subtracting population AAGR from Christian AAGR eliminated the growth that comes from population growth, the net result of births minus deaths, immigration minus emigration.

Table 2. The 20 countries having the highest Average Annual Christian Conversion Rate 1970-2020

Country Continent Christian AAGR

Population AAGR

Net Christian AAGR  (Conversion )

China Asia

10.86

1.07

9.79

Nepal Asia

10.93

2.19

8.74

Saudi Arabia Arabian Peninsula

9.27

3.58

5.69

Oman Arabian Peninsula

7.62

3.05

4.57

Cambodia Asia

5.87

1.67

4.20

Mongolia Asia

5.96

1.84

4.12

Yemen Arabian Peninsula

7.9

3.37

3.72

Albania Europe

3.71

0.87

2.84

Bhutan Asia

4.6

2.04

2.56

Guinea Africa

4.44

2.27

2.17

South Sudan Africa

4.67

2.53

2.14

Singapore Asia

4.12

2.01

 2.11

Burkina Faso Africa

4.81

2.71

2.10

Armenia Asia

2.52

0.45

2.07

Mali Africa

4.53

2.48

2.05

Benin Africa

4.85

2.83

2.02

Timor-Leste Asia

3.74

1.85

1.89

Brunei Asia

4.49

2.66

1.83

Georgia Asia

1.52

-0.29

1.81

UAE Arabian Peninsula

9.34

7.63

1.71

All seven countries in this area make the top 20 list. The CSGC report indicates that ”Much of this growth has come as a result of immigration, partially by those displaced from other countries in the region, but primarily through the influx of migrant workers to the service industries of the region’s wealthy nations. Many of these workers are Christians, coming from countries such as the Philippines and working in Western Asia for two or three years at a time” (p.42). So the primary growth factor in this region is immigration. Table 3 presents a more in depth analysis of this region.What’s happening with the Muslim majority countries in the Arabian Peninsula?

Table 3. Factors Contributing to Christian Growth in the Arabian Peninsula

Rank Country Percentage Expatriate Proselytism of Muslims Expatriate religious freedom Est. Nr. Christians 2020 Comments about conditions

10

Bahrain

est. 50%

Forbidden

Yes

119,000

59% of work force is expatriate. Half of congregations are from South India

19

Kuwait

39%

Forbidden

Yes

310,000

Underground Kuwaiti Church is growing. Majority of work force is expatriate.

7

Oman

25%

Forbidden

Yes

151,000

The majority of work force is expatriate so also the majority of converts

6

Qatar

65%

Forbidden

Yes

209,000

Christians offered land to build the first churches since Islam’s arrival

4

Saudi Arabia

est. 27%

Forbidden

NO

1,542,000

Record on religious freedom and human rights may be the worst in the world.

3

United Arab Emirates

est. 44%

Forbidden

Yes

1,182,000

Religious freedom is notable for all major faith groups. An increasing number of conversions among expatriates.

5

Yemen

2.6%

Forbidden

Yes

52,300

Little religious freedom though conversions from Islam are reported

What’s up in Western Francophone Africa?

The primary growth factor in Western Africa is biological growth, though conversion growth is nearly as significant. Relatively good social stability and religious freedom since the 1960s have permitted churches and missionary organizations to make disciples. Because overall Christian growth is a combination of net population growth (births minus deaths, immigration minus emigration) and net conversion growth (those embracing Christianity minus those leaving Christianity) it is sometimes helpful to subtract Population AAGR from Christian AAGR to determine “Conversion Growth. Table 4 and the following graph show how these factors come in to play in Western Africa. In each country it is seen that population or biological) growth is slightly higher than conversion growth.

Table 4. Population and Conversion Growth in Western Africa.

Country

Christian AAGR

Population AAGR

“Conversion” AAGR

Benin

4.85%

2.83%

2.02%

Burkina Faso

4.81%

2.71%

2.10%

Guinea

4.44%

2.27%

2.17%

Mali

4.54%

2.48%

2.06%

Africa AAGR

The Turks and Caicos Islands: An Abnormality?

The Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, the only Christian majority country in 1970 on the top 20 list, enters the top 20 mainly due to a high population growth rate (4.14%). The Christian AAGR is 3.97%, slightly lower; but a small difference leads to a larger change over a 50 year period. The actual percentage of Christians in the country actually decreased almost 8% over the 50 year period because the population growth rate is higher than the Christian growth rate. Although the number of Christians in the Turks and Caicos Islands grew significantly, the contribution factor was biological growth.

Georgia: Overcoming Population Decline.

The only country to have a negative population growth rate on Table 2,  The Top 20 Countries with the highest conversion rate is, Georgia. The situation here is somewhat interesting in that the country will most likely experienced a population decline between 1970 and 2020. A significantly lower birth rate and economic emigration since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 are the primary contributing factors to the net -0.29% population decline. The Christian AAGR for 1970-2020 is 1.52, but because the overall population decline, the Net Christian AAGR is 1.81.

Conclusion: Growth Factors May Vary

This brief survey suggests that the primary growth factor is different for each reason. In Asia, the primary factor is conversion. In the Arabian Peninsula, the chief factor is immigration. In Western Francophone Africa, the primary factor is “natural” or biological growth, although conversion is also significant. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, the high biological growth rate offset a decline in the overall percentage of Christians in that country, which masks the trend of people turning away from the Christian religion; whereas in Georgia, a population decline masks the real conversion rate in that country. These examples evidence the need to search out the dynamic factors that contribute to the growth (or decline) of Christians in any context.

What factors are contributing to the growth of Christianity (or its decline) in your context?

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127 thoughts on “The Top 20 Countries where Christianity is Growing the Fastest

  1. Pingback: House Church – Part 3 - The Destiny Centre

  2. I am extremely grateful to see christian religion growing upto this level. I also promise to play my part by spreading the good-news of God all over the world. may God grant me success in my music ministry in Jesus name. Amen.

  3. Here in Nigeria we have genocide and government policies such as the Islamic banking. These two lead greatly to the decline of Christianity in Nigeria. When we have experienced more Christian communities in Northern Nigeria been ambushed and unarmed innocent people been killed in their sleep with their properties destroyed and there Lands occupied by strange jihadist, we know it is a genocide plot against the Christians. We also have cases of Islamic banking giving out money to the people to buy grains, so that there will be food scarcity or inflation of commodities prices. This has make many Christians to compromise to invitations to join Islam here in Nigeria which has leads to great decline in Christianity.

  4. Pingback: My Top 5 Most Popular Blogs of 2016 – David Joannes

  5. Pingback: WILL CHINA BE THE NEW CENTER OF CHRISTIANITY? – LeadBiblically.com

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