How the world’s population is going to change

So this graph from the Economist showing how the distribution of the global population is projected to change is pretty interesting.

The stand out facts for me are:

1) Africa is expanding, whilst Europe will relatively speaking decline. In 1950, there were no African countries among the ten most populated countries in the world. By 2050, there are expected to be three. Conversely, there were four European countries – five if you count Russia – but by 2050 there won’t be any.

2) Speaking of which. Russia looks set to drop out of the top ten. Which means its claim to great power status is likely to become progressively more tenuous.

3) A nuance (or possibly more) that needs to be added to the narrative of ‘the Chinese century’ is that at some point India will replace it as the world’s most populous nation.

We may not hear much about Pentecostalism but there are tonnes of Pentecostals

There are an estimated 279 million Pentecostal Christians around the globe. That means that if we took the combined flocks of Anglicanism, Sikhism, Judaism, Lutheranism and Methodism, they would still be outnumbered by Pentecostals. Pentecostals now amount to a tenth of all the Christians in the world and four percent of the world’s population.  

Catholics are still by far the largest group of Christians in the world. However, it is likely that Pentecostals have now overtaken Orthodox Christians to become the second largest branch Christianity. They are also by some distance the largest protestant denomination.

Christian denominations by number-page-001

These huge numbers are doubly remarkable. Firstly, because they developed remarkably quickly. Pentecostalism dates from the early twentieth century making it one of the newest branches of Christianity. As recently as 1970, there were just 15 million Pentecostals.

Secondly, the figures I have been quoting only relate to the members of specifically Pentecostal churches or denominations.  It therefore, excludes Charismatic Christians who hold to Pentecostal type beliefs and practice Pentecostal style worship in non-Pentecostal denominations.  If we took them and traditional Pentecostals together their numbers soar above half a billion, or a quarter of all Christians in the world. If as a hypothetical exercise we treated them as a faith in their own right, then they would replace Buddhism as the world’s fourth largest religion.

Looking at the religious news pages of the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph, I can’t see any stories that are obviously about Pentecostalism. However I can see stories about Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Judaism and Shia Islam even though these movements are all significantly smaller than Pentecostalism. So to reiterate a point I’ve been making this week: Pentecostalism is a movement worthy of our attention. If for no other reason than its sheer size.