World Christian Encyclopedia - Center for the Study of Global Christianity

World Christian Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition

The first edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia (1982) was one of Oxford University Press’s best-selling reference books. The book was immediately praised as the authoritative, definitive work in the field of international religious demography. Its oversized 1,000 pages embody the most extensive survey of Christianity and world religions ever attempted. In emphasizing its significance, Time Magazine devoted a full two-page spread to its review, claiming it to be “a benchmark for our understanding of the true religious state of the planet.” The second edition (2001), expanded to 1,700 pages, was also widely acclaimed.

The third edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia was published in November 2019 with Edinburgh University Press. Over the course of five years, research staff at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity updated every figure in the book, located hundreds of new photos of Christians around the world, and re-wrote all the narrative texts chronicling the history of Christianity in every country of the world. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the World Christian Encyclopedia includes quantitative information on every world religion and Christianity down to the denominational level. This edition pays close attention to the uniqueness of Christianity around the world; as a result, additional contextual information has been added to highlight, for example, climate change and environmental issues in Oceania and the important role that women play in congregational life. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity is grateful for the help of hundreds of Christians around the world who reviewed, edited, wrote, and provided data for the WCE-3.

The World Christian Encyclopedia, 3rd. edition was named one of the 10 outstanding books of 2019 by the International Bulletin of Mission Research.


Co-authors Todd M. Johnson and Gina A. Zurlo have released several blogs that highlight some of the encyclopedia’s findings, including:

Purchase Options

The World Christian Encyclopedia hardback is available for purchase from Edinburgh University Press,, and Amazon.

We are excited to offer full color e-versions of the Global Overview and groups of countries from our publisher, which are available here. This gives users the option of purchasing information only about regions they’re interested in, instead of the entire book.

Now available: An online version of the World Christian Encyclopedia published by Brill. The WCEO is completely searchable and will eventually contain more information than the hardback version, such as additional text and photos. It also links directly to the source of the data, the World Christian Database, for those with subscriptions. Furthermore, since it is an online version, the text can be read in other languages using your web browser’s translate feature. For purchase information (including discounts), please contact [email protected].

Future Conference

Our conference on the World Christian Encyclopedia scheduled for September 2020 was postponed due to coronavirus. We are tentatively planning on holding the conference at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (South Hamilton, MA, USA) in September 2021.

Praise for the World Christian Encyclopedia

1st & 2nd editions

The encyclopedia combines remarkably well scientific objectivity and tolerance with a quiet evangelical faith…the authors have served modern social science and religious believers equally well with this magisterial work” (Books and Culture, Nov/Dec 2001).

James Billington, Librarian of Congress

The World Christian Encyclopedia instantly renders obsolete all previous studies of the worldwide Christian movement.”

Arthur Glasser

The World Christian Encyclopediais by any standard a major tour de force in Christian publishing.”

Yes! Magazine

It outdistances everything that has yet been published.”

 National Catholic News Service

No other work digests so much data… delineates anomalies, novelties and miniscule bodies so scrupulously… all others summarize data here anatomized… The World Christian Encyclopedia stands without peer or rival, and will probably never be surpassed except by its own second edition.”

Recent Reference Books in Religion

The second edition of the WCE ‘leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the current state of Christianity in the world…Why add this to your reference collection? Simply put, it is the best statistical work on the current state of Christianity to come along in the 20 years since the WCE was first published.’”

American Theological Library Association (ATLA)