Percent of Christian population that is:[1]

  Catholic (50.1%)
  Protestant (36.7%)
  Eastern Orthodox (9.4%)
  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 is an ongoing work-in-progress.

The list includes the following Christian denominations: the Catholic Church including the Eastern Catholic Churches as well as independent Catholic denominations, Protestant denominations with at least 0.2 million members (including Anglican churches, which are sometimes described as a via media between Catholicism and Protestantism), the Eastern Orthodox Church (and its offshots), the Oriental Orthodox Churches (and their offshoots) and all the other Christian branches with distinct theologies, such as Restorationist, Nontrinitarian and Nestorian denominations.

Christianity is the largest religious group in the world, with an estimated 2.3 to 2.6 billion adherents in 2020.[2][3][4][5]

Christian denominational families

The various denominations of Christianity fall into several large families, shaped both by culture and history.

Christianity arose in the first century AD after Rome had conquered much of the western parts of the fragmented Hellenistic empire created by Alexander the Great. The linguistic and cultural divisions of the first century AD Roman Empire with, broadly speaking, a Latin West and a Greek East, but also with significant areas in North Africa where Coptic was the dominant language, and areas in the Near East where Syriac or Aramaic was the dominant language, were reflected in the early Christian church. The church was called "Catholic" meaning "universal" from very early in the second century, a tacit acknowledgement of the many different cultures it encompassed.

Early Christianity suffered great, although intermittent, persecution from the state until Emperor Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, legalizing Christianity. Shortly after the cessation of persecution, as the Church, for the first time had the luxury of reflecting on the meaning of its own teachings, significant disputes arose, particularly over the nature of Christ, and the relationship between Christ, the Father, and the Spirit. The Church chose to address those disputes with Ecumenical councils, the first four of which were at Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon. The first two of these councils, the First Council of Nicaea and the First Council of Constantinople gave birth to the Nicene Creed which has become the touchstone for Christian beliefs.

Both of the next two Councils, the Council of Ephesus, and the Council of Chalcedon led to significant ruptures in the Church. Many Christians espousing the minority position at these two councils, even after extensive discussion and attempts at reconciliation, chose to strike out on their own, rather than to accept the positions held by the majority of the church fathers at the councils. Refusing to accept the Council of Ephesus, the Church of the East, encompassing many Syriac speaking Christians in what was then the far East of the Empire, split off in 431 AD. A few decades later, in 451 AD, after the Council of Chalcedon, the group that later became known as the Oriental Orthodox Churches, encompassing many Coptic speaking Christians in North Africa, also split off.

In 1054 AD, an accumulation of misunderstanding, disrespect and genuine theological differences led to the Great Schism, dividing Greek speaking Christians who became the Eastern Orthodox, from Latin speaking Christians who kept the name Catholic, but increasingly prefaced it with the adjective "Roman."

Beginning in 1517, the remaining western, Latin speaking church was itself rent asunder by the Reformation with many Christians rejecting papal authority and gathering together in new ways. Broadly speaking Protestantism has four streams: Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anabaptism, and Anglicanism. While all of these Christian groups from the Church of the East on, have their own subsequent splits, the fragmentation in Protestantism has been extreme, with tens of thousands of denominations. Some of these fragmented groups, particularly among the Eastern churches, have sought to return to Rome, and have reunited themselves under papal authority.

Major denominational families in Christianity:
Western Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Protestantism
Anabaptism
Anglicanism
Lutheranism
Calvinism
(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.

Christianity – 2.3 to 2.6 billion

Catholicism – 1.345 billion

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

Canonically irregular groups

Sedevacantists

Main article: Sedevacantism

Independent Catholicism – 18 million

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

Protestantism – 800 million–1 billion

Countries by number of Protestants (2010)

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.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31] 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.[32] 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, the Anglican Communion, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Baptist World Alliance, the World Methodist Council and the Lutheran World 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".[25]

Historical Protestantism – 300–500 million

The number of individuals who are members of historical Protestant Churches totals to 300–500 million.[27]

A map of countries that have a church that is a member of the Anglican Communion (blue),[dubious ] 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,[33][34] 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.[68][69][70][71][72] 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, since they believe in believer's baptism.[71][69][70] Therefore, the BWA is the 9th largest Christian communion.[73]

Lutheranism – 70–90 million
Lutheranism by country

Further information: List of Lutheran denominations

The number of adherents in the Lutheran denominations totals to 70–90 million persons (the Lutheran World Federation reports 77 million and is the sixth largest communion)[86] being represented in the following churches:[27][87]

Calvinism / Reformed churches – 70–80 million

The Reformed tradition is represented by 70-80 million people who hold membership in the following churches;[124][125][126][127][128] the World Communion of Reformed Churches is the fourth-largest communion.[129]

Methodism – 60–80 million

The Methodist movement is represented by 60–80 million people[verification needed] (a figure including adherents but non-members), found in denominations including the following;[27][196] the World Methodist Council (WMC) is the fifth largest communion.[197] Not all of the following churches are member churches of the WMC. The largest Methodist denomination, the United Methodist Church, is suffering a large split by the Global Methodist Church, thus figures for the two denominations are an ongoing process.

Adventism – 22.7 million
Restorationism – 4.1 million
Anabaptism – 4 million
Hussites – 1.2 million
Plymouth Brethren – 1 million

The Plymouth Brethren number around 1 million members.[223]

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.[224] 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.[25][26] 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.[225][226][227] According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC), there are an estimated 450 million Independents world-wide, as of mid-2019.[228]

Pentecostalism – 280 million

Those who are members of the Pentecostal denomination number around 280 million people.[27]

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

60 million people are members of African initiated churches.[242]

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

The New Apostolic Church has around 10 million members.[249]

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

Messianic Judaism has a membership of 0.3 million people.[250]

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 Eastern Orthodox liturgy and worship; while others are the result of reformations of Eastern Orthodox beliefs and practices, inspired by the teachings of Western Protestant missionaries.[251][252][253] Some Protestant Eastern Churches are in communion with similar Western Protestant Churches.[251][254] 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 Orthodoxy – 220 million

A map of Eastern Orthodoxy by population percentage.

The best estimate of the number of Eastern Orthodox Christians is 220 million[259] or 80% of all Orthodox Christians worldwide.[260] 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.[261][262][263] In addition, there are several Eastern Orthodox splinter groups and non-universally recognized churches.

Autocephalous churches – 168 million

Autonomous churches – 5 million

Churches in communion with the above Orthodox Churches but with disputed autocephaly or spiritual independence – 14-21 million

Non-universally recognized churches – 4 million

Other separated Orthodox groups – 6 million

Oriental Orthodoxy – 62 million

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.[279][280][281]

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

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 or Mormonism – 17 million

Jehovah's Witnesses – 8.7 million

Oneness Pentecostalism – 7.5 million

Minor denominations – 4.4 million

Nestorianism – 0.6 million

Divisions occurred within the Church of the East, especially the schism of 1552, but by 1830 two unified patriarchates and distinct churches remained: the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church (now an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See).

See also

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