Most evangelical Christians live outside of North America and Europe, researcher says

Christians in China
Believers take part in a weekend mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin November 10, 2013. |

Evangelical Christians make up a huge swath of the world’s population. But most of them reside in Asia, Africa, and Latin America — not in North America, a new study has found. 

French researcher Sebastian Fath estimates that there are about 660 million evangelicals in the world, representing a little over a quarter of all 2.5 billion Christians. 

According to Fath, the largest share of evangelicals live in Asia, with about 215 million adherents. China has 66 million, India has 28 million, Indonesia has 16 million, the Philippines has 13 million, and South Korea has 9 million.

Africa has the second-highest number of evangelical Christians with 185 million. Nigeria has 58 million, Kenya has 20 million, Ethiopia has 18 million, and both DRC Congo and South Africa have 15 million. 

An estimated 123 million evangelicals live in South America, mostly in Brazil, Argentina and Guatemala.

Surprisingly, North America has 107 million evangelicals, 93 million of whom live in the United States. Ten million live in Mexico, and just 4 million in Canada. The rest of the world’s evangelicals are divided between Europe at 23 million and Oceania at 7 million.

The figures presented are approximate, based on 25 documents analyzed which address the evolution of evangelical Christianity in the world.

Fath’s findings corroborate an earlier report from the Pew Research Center which found that “Christianity has grown enormously in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, where there were relatively few Christians at the beginning of the 20th century.”

Additionally, some researchers estimate that by 2035, China will be both majority Christian and the largest Christian nation in the world.

Even within the United States, the share of evangelicals who are not white is growing, according to Pew. As of 2014, 11% of adults who identified with evangelical denominations were Hispanic, 6% were black, 2% were Asian, and 5% identified with another race or as mixed race.

Based on these trends, biblical scholar and author N.T. Wright told The Christian Post that Western Christians would do well to adopt a more global perspective when it comes to the growth and expansion of Christianity. 

“Most Christians in the world today are not westerners and do not speak English as their mother tongue,” he said. 

“Christianity is flourishing in sub-Saharan Africa, in Southeast Asia, in Latin America, in all sorts of ways,” Wright said. “And I think we in the West need to not say, ‘Oh well, they're a bit behind and they need to catch up with us.’ We need to say, ‘Maybe it's we who've gone a bit over the hill and we need to be reminded of where the action really is.”

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