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The World as 100 Christians

DR. GINA A. ZURLO

Co-Director, Center for the Study of Global Christianity


When the World as 100 People graphic went viral a few years ago, I knew this could be replicated with data on global Christianity. With the help of CSGC research assistant Amanda Perkins and designer Brad Coon, we developed the graphic above and published it on the first page of the World Christian Encyclopedia. There are 2.5 billion Christians in the world – that’s a big number. So big, it can be hard to conceptualize. But 100 is different. You’ve probably been in a room with 100 people. You can probably list 100 people by name. What if those 100 people represented all the beauty and diversity of World Christianity?

If 100 Christians represented all of global Christianity, 67 would live in Asia, Africa, Latin America or Oceania, while 33 would live in Europe or Northern America. Most would be found in urban areas (65) as opposed to rural (35). Linguistically, 16 would speak Spanish as their mother tongue, 10 English, 8 Portuguese, 5 Russian and 3 Mandarin Chinese. Most (64) would be between the ages of 15–64, while 26 would be under 15. Eleven Christians would be illiterate, and 35 would have little to no access to secondary education. Roughly half of Christians would have access to the internet. Fourteen would have no access to safe water, and five would have malaria. Most Christians (79) would live in countries with moderate to high corruption; 35 would live in countries with low development. A typical Christian today is a non-white woman living in the global South, with lower-than-average levels of societal safety and proper health care. This represents a vastly different typical Christian than that of 100 years ago, who was likely a white, affluent European.

The World Christian Encyclopedia describes the friction of Christian diversity with its divisive tendencies, as well as the harmonious balance when Christians work together across differences. There is indeed a “World Christianity” to speak of – as opposed to “Christianities” – and it is a portrait of a complicated yet united whole.

Learn more about the World Christian Encyclopedia and our upcoming conference here.

Technical notes: The World as 100 Christians graphic draws on a number of sources to depict the proportion of various of subjects if the world consisted of 100 Christians. The outer ring of continent, gender, density, age, tradition and language comes mainly from data found in the World Christian Database (WCD). The inner ring of 12 global issues comes from the intersection of United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) with the WCD’s data on Christianity.