Dr. Todd M. Johnson Appointed to Distinguished Chair of Mission & Global Christianity

On July 1, 2019, Dr. Todd M. Johnson became the Paul E. and Eva B. Toms Distinguished Professor of Mission and Global Christianity, a role previously held by Dr. Peter Kuzmic, who retired in June.

Todd is one of the best-known missiologists in the world. He is known — not just for his many publications — but also for his wisdom about Christian and other religious trends in our contemporary world. At the 2010 Cape Town meeting of Lausanne, I had breakfast every morning with Todd; it was like my second doctoral degree — this one in trends in global Christianity. It is for people like Todd Johnson that we have Distinguished Chairs.

— Dr. Scott Sunquist, President & Professor of Missiology

Dr. Johnson grew up in a Lutheran church in Minneapolis. As a young adult, he joined Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Los Angeles and was active in various ministries including relief work among Cambodian refugees in Thailand, inner-city work in San Francisco, evangelism in villages in Guatemala, and resettling refugees in Tacoma. He also worked at the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California where he met his wife Tricia Winter, the youngest daughter of founders Ralph and Roberta Winter.

In 1988, while based in Singapore, he met Christian statistician, David B. Barrett and began 23 years of collaboration until Barrett’s death in 2011. Johnson was mentored by Barrett in William Carey International University’s field-based program and, in 1993, successfully defended his dissertation on developing a projection methodology for religious statistics.

In 2001, Johnson was co-author with Barrett on the World Christian Encyclopedia, 2nd edition. In 2003, he brought the Encyclopedia project to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and established the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. Shortly after arriving at Gordon-Conwell, Johnson launched the online World Christian Database. In 2008, sociologist Peter Berger invited him to start the International Religious Demography Project at the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University. There he launched the World Religion Database, published six books, and, in 2019, helped to launch a peer-reviewed, Journal of Religion and Demography.

Johnson has traveled to over 80 countries and lived in Thailand and Singapore for extended periods. He has taught in universities and seminaries in many countries including a 2018 trip to India, Mongolia, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Johnson teaches courses on mission, global Christianity, development, Pentecostalism, and global leadership. He also runs a Doctor of Ministry track on Global Christianity, Development and Leadership. In addition, he pioneered a global education course, “Religions on the Silk Road,” which takes Gordon-Conwell students to Uzbekistan and Turkey for three weeks in the summer. Dr. Johnson’s work through the Center for the Study of Global Christianity is featured in major news outlets including The Economist, The New York Times, the BBC, and Christianity Today. Johnson has published 18 books, atlases, and encyclopedias, most notably the World Christian Encyclopedia (2nd and 3rd editions), the Atlas of Global Christianity, and the Edinburgh Companions to Global Christianity series (projected 10 volumes).

He is married to Tricia and has three daughters.

About the Center for the Study of Global Christianity

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity is an academic research center that monitors worldwide demographic trends in Christianity, including outreach and mission. We provide a comprehensive collection of information on the past, present, and future of Christianity in every country of the world. Our data and publications help churches, mission agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to be more strategic, thoughtful, and sensitive to local contexts.

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