Massive Growth Hits Africa's Christian Population, Study Reports

A recent report issued by the Pew Research Center indicates that Christianity has exhibited exponential growth in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Pew Research Center released its “Global Christianity” report on Dec. 19. The report is widely considered as the most “comprehensive and reliable” study to date, as it gathered its information from 2,400 sources of information.

According to the report, the world’s Christian population has tripled in the past 100 years, seeing a momentous shift in region. While in 1910 the majority of Christians at 93 percent resided in Europe and the Americas, there now exists an increasingly large population in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

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While in 1910 sub-Saharan Africa only contained 1.4 percent of the world’s Christians, in 2010 it contained 23.6 percent of Christians. The Asia-pacific region also exhibited momentous growth; in 1910 it only had 4.5 percent of Christians, in 2010 the percentage rose to 13.1 percent.

Nigeria holds the largest amount of Christians in Africa at more than 80.5 million. According to the Pew Research report, this proves ironic because Nigeria now houses a higher protestant population than Germany, which was the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century.

Africa has also seen the fastest growth in Christian population from 1910 to 2010 with a 60-fold increase.

Africa has also seen a drastic dispersion of Christianity in its own continent. According to the report, although Christianity is said to have begun in the Middle East and North-Africa, these two regions now exhibit the lowest concentration of Africans in the world at 4 percent of the world’s population.

“Christianity has undergone one of the greatest demographic and cultural shifts in its 2,000-year history," professor of world Christianity and history of mission at Boston University School of Theology Dana Robert said at the Global Christian Forum in October, as previously reported by The Christian Post.

The high amount of Christians in Africa is due in large part to missionaries spreading the Word of Christianity from the Americas and Europe to the rest of the world.

Africa has also seen its fair share of Christian reform among its indigenous population. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a report in 2006 pointing to an especial boom in Africa’s Pentecostal population, at the time representing 12 percent of the continent’s Christian population.

As Christianity spreads across different continents, Christian leaders naturally see the increasing need for Christian unity.

As the Washington Post reports, the shift in Christianity has created a panic for Church leaders, who scramble to maintain universal interpretations of the bible and close ties with Christian followers all around the world.

“Contemporary Christians are focusing on mission for multiple purposes – both to recover tradition and to recover from tradition," Robert said at the Global Christian Forum in October.

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