List of Christian denominations by number of members

Last updated

Percent of Christian population that is: [1]

   Catholic (50.1%)
   Protestant (36.7%)
   Eastern Orthodox (9.4%)
   Oriental Orthodox (2.5%)
  Other Christian (1.3%)

This is a list of Christian denominations by number of members. It is inevitably partial and generally based on claims by the denominations themselves. The numbers should therefore be considered approximate and the article an ongoing work-in-progress.

Contents

The list includes the following Christian denominations: the Catholic Church including the Eastern Catholic Churches; all the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches with some recognition and their offshoots; Protestant denominations with at least 0.2 million members; all the other Christian branches with distinct theologies, such as Restorationist and Nontrinitarian denominations; the independent Catholic denominations; and the Church of the East. With an estimated 2.42 or 2.3 billion adherents in 2015, [2] [3] [4] Christianity is the largest religious group in the world, and in 2020 there were about 2.6 billion adherents globally. [5]

Christian denominational families

Christianity Branches without text.svg
Major denominational families in Christianity:
Western Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Protestantism
Anabaptism
Anglicanism
Calvinism
Lutheranism
(Latin Church)
Catholic Church
(Eastern Catholic Churches)
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Church of the East
Schism (1552)
Assyrian Church of the East
Ancient Church of the East
Protestant Reformation
(16th century)
Great Schism
(11th century)
Council of Ephesus (431)
Council of Chalcedon (451)
Early Christianity
Great Church
(Full communion)
(Not shown are non-Nicene, nontrinitarian, and some restorationist denominations.)
Major branches and movements within Protestantism. Protestant branches.svg
Major branches and movements within Protestantism.

Christianity – 2.6 billion

Catholicism – 1.345 billion

A map of Catholicism by population percentage. Percent of Catholics by Country-Pew Research 2011.svg
A map of Catholicism by population percentage.

Catholicism is the largest branch of Christianity with 1.345 billion, and the Catholic Church is the largest among churches. [6] Figures below are in accordance with the Annuario Pontificio , at 2019. [6] The total figure does not include independent denominations that self-identify as Catholic, numbering some 18 million adherents.

Latin Church – 1.327 billion
Eastern Catholic Churches – 18 million [7]
Schismatic and Heretical Independent Catholic Groups
Canonically irregular groups
Sedevacantists

Independent Catholicism – 18 million

Various denominations that self-identify as Catholic, despite not being affiliated with the Catholic Church. [16]

Protestantism – 900 million–1 billion

A map of Protestantism by population percentage. Countries by percentage of Protestants.svg
A map of Protestantism by population percentage.

Protestantism is the second largest major group of Christians by number of followers. Estimates vary from 800 million to 1 billion, or between 31% and 38% of all Christians. [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] The main reason for this wide range is the lack of a common agreement among scholars as to which denominations constitute Protestantism. For instance, most sources but not all include Anabaptism, Anglicanism, Baptists and Independent Nondenominational Christianity as part of Protestantism. [31] Moreover, Protestant denominations altogether do not form a single structure comparable to the Catholic Church, or to a lesser extent the Eastern Orthodox communion. However, several different comparable communions exist within Protestantism, such as the World Evangelical Alliance, Anglican Communion, World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Baptist Alliance, World Methodist Council and the World Lutheran Federation. Regardless, 900 million is the most accepted figure among various authors and scholars, and thus is used in this article. Note that this 900 million figure also includes Anglicanism, as well as Anabaptists, Baptists and multiple other groups that might sometimes disavow a common "Protestant" designation, and would rather prefer to be called, simply, "Christian". [24]

Historical Protestantism – 300–500 million

The number of individuals who are members of historical Protestant Churches totals to 300-500 million. [26]

A map of countries that have a church that is a member of the Anglican Communion (blue),
the Porvoo Communion (green), comprising European Anglican and Lutheran churches, and the Union of Utrecht (Old Catholic) (red), a federation of Old Catholic Churches. Anglican C., Porvoo C., Utrecht Union.svg
A map of countries that have a church that is a member of the Anglican Communion (blue), the Porvoo Communion (green), comprising European Anglican and Lutheran churches, and the Union of Utrecht (Old Catholic) (red), a federation of Old Catholic Churches.
Anglicanism – 110 million

There are about 110 million Christians in Anglican tradition, [32] [33] mostly part of the Anglican Communion, the third-largest Christian communion in the world, with 42 members (provinces).

Baptist churches – 100 million

The worldwide Baptist community numbers about 100 million. [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] However, the Baptist World Alliance, the world communion of Baptist churches, self-reports only 51 million baptized believers, as Baptists do not count children as members. [67] [65] [66] Therefore, the BWA is the 9th largest Christian communion. [69]

Lutheranism – 70–90 million
Lutheran World Federation 2013 Membership Figures Lutheran World Federation 2013 Membership Figures.svg
Lutheran World Federation 2013 Membership Figures

The number of adherents in the Lutheran denomination totals to 70-90 million persons (the Lutheran World Federation reports 77 million, and is the sixth largest communion), [82] being represented in the following churches: [26] [83]

Reformed churches (Calvinism) – 60–80 million

The Reformed tradition is represented by 60-80 million people who hold membership in the following churches; [120] [121] [122] [123] [124] the World Communion of Reformed Churches is the fourth-largest communion. [125]

Methodism – 60–80 million

The Methodist movement is represented by 60–80 million people (a figure including adherents but non-members), found in denominations including the following; [26] [192] the World Methodist Council is the fifth largest communion. [193]

Adventism – 22.3 million
Restorationism – 7 million
Anabaptism – 4 million
Plymouth Brethren – 1 million

The Plymouth Brethren number around 1 million members. [218]

Hussites – 1 million
Worldwide distribution of Quakers by country in 2017 according to the Friends World Committee for Consultation:
No data
1-99
100-999
1,000-3,999
4,000-9,999
10,000-119,285 Quaker-Distribution-World.svg
Worldwide distribution of Quakers by country in 2017 according to the Friends World Committee for Consultation:
  No data
  1-99
  100-999
  1,000-3,999
  4,000-9,999
  10,000-119,285
Quakers – 0.4 million

Modern Protestantism – 400–500 million

The denominations listed below did not emerge from the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century or its commonly acknowledged offshoots. Instead, they are broadly linked to Pentecostalism or similar other independent evangelical and revivalistic movements that originated in the beginning of the 20th century. [219] For this reason, several sources tend to differentiate them from Protestants and classify them together as Independents, Non-core Protestants etc. Also included in this category are the numerous, yet very similar Nondenominational churches. Nonetheless, sources eventually combine their numbers to the Protestant tally. [24] [25] Despite the absence of centralized control or leadership, if considered as a single cohort, this will easily be the second largest Christian tradition after Roman Catholicism. [220] [221] [222] According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC), there are an estimated 450 million Independents world-wide, as of mid-2019. [223]

Pentecostalism – 280 million

Those who are members of the Pentecostal denomination number around 280 million people. [26]

Nondenominational Christianity – 80–100 million
African initiated churches – 60 million

60 million people are members of African initiated churches. [232]

Chinese Patriotic Christian Churches - 25 million
New Apostolic Church – 10 million

The New Apostolic Church has around 10 million members. [239]

Local churches – 1 to 10 million
Messianic Judaism – 0.3 million

Messianic Judaism has a membership of 0.3 million people. [240]

Eastern Protestant Christianity – 22 million

Eastern Protestant Christianity (or Eastern Reformed Christianity) encompasses a range of heterogeneous Protestant Christian denominations that developed outside of the Occident, from the latter half of the nineteenth century and yet keeps elements of Eastern Christianity, to varying degrees. Most of these denominations came into being when existing Protestant Churches adopted reformational variants of Orthodox Christian liturgy and worship; while others are the result of reformations of Orthodox Christian beliefs and practices, inspired by the teachings of Western Protestant missionaries. [241] [242] [243] Some Protestant Eastern Churches are in communion with similar Western Protestant Churches. [241] [244] However, Protestant Eastern Christianity within itself, does not constitute a single communion. This is due to the diverse polities, practices, liturgies and orientations of the denominations which fall under this category.

Eastern protestantism, percentage by country. Eastern-Protestantism.png
Eastern protestantism, percentage by country.

Eastern Orthodoxy – 220 million

A map of Eastern Orthodoxy by population percentage. World Eastern Orthodox population.png
A map of Eastern Orthodoxy by population percentage.

The best estimate of the number of Eastern Orthodox Christians is 220 million [249] or 80% of all Orthodox Christians worldwide. [250] Its main body consists of the various autocephalous churches along with the autonomous and other churches canonically linked to them, for the most part form a single communion, making the Eastern Orthodox Church the second largest single denomination behind the Catholic Church. [251] [252] [253] In addition, there are several Eastern Orthodox splinter groups and non-universally recognized churches.

Autocephalous churches – 168 million
Autonomous churches – 13 million
Churches in communion with the above Orthodox Churches but with disputed autocephaly – 19 million
Non-universally recognized churches – 3.82 million
Other separated Orthodox groups – 6 million

Oriental Orthodoxy – 62 million

A map of Oriental Orthodoxy by population percentage. Percent of Oriental Orthodox Christians by country.svg
A map of Oriental Orthodoxy by population percentage.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches are those descended from those that rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Despite the similar name, they are therefore a different branch of Christianity from the Eastern Orthodox (see above). There are an estimated 62 million Oriental Orthodox Christians, worldwide. [267] [268] [269]

Autocephalous churches – 61.7 million
Autonomous churches – 0.01 million
Churches not in communion – 0.07 million

Non-trinitarian Restorationism – 35 million

Distribution of other Christians Percent of Other Christians by Country-Pew Research 2011.svg
Distribution of other Christians

A sixth group is composed by Nontrinitarian Restorationists. These groups are quite distinct from orthodox Trinitarian restorationist groups such as the Disciples of Christ, despite some shared history.

Latter Day Saint movement (Mormonism) – 17 million
Jehovah's Witnesses – 8.7 million [290]
Oneness Pentecostalism – 6 million
Minor denominations – 4.4 million

Church of the East – 0.6 million

Divisions occurred within the church itself, but by 1830 two unified patriarchates and distinct churches remained: the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church (an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See). The Ancient Church of the East split from the Assyrian Church of the East in 1968. In 2017, the Chaldean Catholic Church had approximately 628,405 members, [296] the Assyrian Church of the East 323,300, [297] while the Ancient Church of the East had 100,000.

See also

Related Research Articles

Full communion is a communion or relationship of full agreement among different Christian denominations that share certain essential principles of Christian theology. Views vary among denominations on exactly what constitutes full communion, but typically when two or more denominations are in full communion it enables services and celebrations, such as the Eucharist, to be shared among congregants or clergy of any of them with the full approval of each.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ecumenism</span> Cooperation between Christian denominations

Ecumenism, also spelled oecumenism, is the concept and principle that Christians who belong to different Christian denominations should work together to develop closer relationships among their churches and promote Christian unity. The adjective ecumenical is thus applied to any initiative that encourages greater cooperation and union among Christian denominations and churches.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pastor</span> Ordained leader of a Christian congregation

A pastor is the leader of a Christian congregation who also gives advice and counsel to people from the community or congregation. In Lutheranism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, pastors are always ordained. In Methodism, pastors may be either licensed or ordained.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christian denomination</span> Identifiable Christian body with common characteristics

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity that comprises all church congregations of the same kind, identifiable by traits such as a name, particular history, organization, leadership, theological doctrine, worship style and sometimes a founder. It is a secular and neutral term, generally used to denote any established Christian church. Unlike a cult or sect, a denomination is usually seen as part of the Christian religious mainstream. Most Christian denominations self-describe themselves as churches, whereas some newer ones tend to interchangeably use the terms churches, assemblies, fellowships, etc. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, biblical hermeneutics, theology, ecclesiology, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Open communion</span> Protestant Christian religious practise

Open communion is the practice of some Protestant Churches of allowing members and non-members to receive the Eucharist. Many but not all churches that practice open communion require that the person receiving communion be a baptized Christian, and other requirements may apply as well. In Methodism, open communion is referred to as the open table, meaning that all may approach the Communion table.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mainline Protestant</span> Older, more establishment Protestant denominations

The mainline Protestant churches are a group of Protestant denominations in the United States and in some cases Protestant denominations in Canada largely of the theologically liberal or theologically progressive persuasion that contrast in history and practice with the largely theologically conservative Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Charismatic, Confessional, Confessing Movement, historically Black church, and Global South Protestant denominations and congregations. Some make a distinction between "mainline" and "oldline", with the former referring only to denominational ties and the latter referring to church lineage, prestige and influence. However, this distinction has largely been lost to history and the terms are now nearly synonymous.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United and uniting churches</span> Union of Protestant churches of different creeds

A united church, also called a uniting church, is a church formed from the merger or other form of church union of two or more different Protestant Christian denominations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">P'ent'ay</span> Endonym used to refer Protestant denomination in Ethiopia and Eritrea

P'ent'ay is an originally Amharic–Tigrinya language term for Pentecostal. Today, the term refers to all Evangelical Protestant denominations and organisations in Ethiopian and Eritrean societies. Alternative terms include Ethiopian–Eritrean Evangelicalism or the Ethiopian–Eritrean Evangelical Church. Sometimes the denominations and organizations are known as Wenigēlawī.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christian Conference of Asia</span>

The Christian Conference of Asia is a regional ecumenical organisation representing 15 National Councils and over 100 denominations (churches) in New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catholicity</span> Beliefs and practices widely accepted by those that describe themselves as Catholic

Catholicity is a concept pertaining to beliefs and practices that are widely accepted by numerous Christian denominations, most notably by those Christian denominations that describe themselves as catholic in accordance with the Four Marks of the Church, as expressed in the Nicene Creed formulated at the First Council of Constantinople in 381: "[I believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conversion to Christianity</span> Conversion of a previously non-Christian person to Christianity

Conversion to Christianity is the religious conversion of a previously non-Christian person to Christianity. Different Christian denominations may perform various different kinds of rituals or ceremonies initiation into their community of believers. The most commonly accepted ritual of conversion in Christianity is through baptism, but this is not universally accepted among them all. A period of instruction and study almost always ensues before a person is formally converted into Christianity and becomes a church member, but the length of this period varies, sometimes as short as a few weeks and possibly less, and other times, up to as long as a year or possibly more.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christianity in Africa</span>

Christianity in Africa first arrived in Egypt in approximately 50 AD, reached the region around Carthage by the end of the second century. In the 4th century, the Aksumite empire in modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea became one of the first regions in the world to adopt Christianity as their official religion. The Nubian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia followed two centuries later. Important Africans who influenced the early development of Christianity include Tertullian, Perpetua, Felicity, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Cyprian, Athanasius and Augustine of Hippo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christianity in the United States</span>

Christianity is the most prevalent religion in the United States. Estimates from 2021 suggest that of the entire US population about 63% is Christian. The majority of Christian Americans are Protestant Christians, though there are also significant numbers of American Roman Catholics and other minority Christian denominations such as Latter-day Saints, Orthodox Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses. The United States has the largest Christian population in the world and, more specifically, the largest Protestant population in the world, with nearly 210 million Christians and, as of 2021, over 140 million people affiliated with Protestant churches, although other countries have higher percentages of Christians among their populations. The Public Religion Research Institute's "2020 Census of American Religion", carried out between 2014 and 2020, showed that 70% of Americans identified as Christian during this seven-year interval. In a 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center, 65% of adults in the United States identified themselves as Christians. They were 75% in 2015 70.6% in 2014, 78% in 2012, 81.6% in 2001, and 85% in 1990. About 62% of those polled claim to be members of a church congregation. "In God We Trust" is the modern official motto of the United States, as established in a 1956 law signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The phrase first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anglican Communion and ecumenism</span> Overview about the Anglican Communion and ecumenism

Anglican interest in ecumenical dialogue can be traced back to the time of the Reformation and dialogues with both Orthodox and Lutheran churches in the sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century, with the rise of the Oxford Movement, there arose greater concern for reunion of the churches of "Catholic confession". This desire to work towards full communion with other denominations led to the development of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, approved by the Third Lambeth Conference of 1888. The four points were stipulated as the basis for church unity, "a basis on which approach may be by God's blessing made towards Home Reunion":

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Protestantism</span> Form of Christianity

Protestantism is a branch of Christianity that follows the theological tenets of the Protestant Reformation, a movement that began seeking to reform the Catholic Church from within in the 16th century against what its followers perceived to be errors, abuses, and discrepancies within it.

The Spanish Evangelical Church is a united denomination; Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Congregationalists participated in the merger. It was established in the wake of religious tolerance in Spain in 1869. The first General Assembly was in Seville in 1872, where the name of the Spanish Christian Church was adopted, later changed to the current name.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Criticism of Protestantism</span> Overview of criticism of Protestantism

Criticism of Protestantism covers critiques and questions raised about Protestantism, the Christian denominations which arose out of the Protestant Reformation. While critics may praise some aspects of Protestantism which are not unique to the various forms of Protestantism, Protestantism is faced with criticism mainly from the Catholic Church and mainstream Eastern Orthodox churches, although Protestant denominations have also engaged in self-critique and criticized one another. According to both the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy, many major, foundational Protestant doctrines have been officially declared heretical.

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