The New Center of the Christian World

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Monday, March 20, 2017

The New Center of the Christian World

One of the most important trends within the Christian movement is the explosive expansion of Christianity southward in Africa, Asia and Latin America. And with it, the new challenge of the globalization of Christianity. Philip Jenkins argues that by the year 2050 only one Christian in five will be a non-Latino white person, and the center of gravity of the Christian world will have shifted firmly to the Southern Hemisphere. 

Consider Ghana in West Africa. More than 70% of Ghana’s 26 million people are Christian. As a Religion News Service article observed, “The statistics understand the fervency of everyday faith. Many attend church on weeknights. All-night prayer vigils are common and billboards advertising Christian meetings line the streets.

“It’s common to see people studying the Bible on the bus, and many office workers keep open Bibles on their desks.”

According to the International Bulletin of Mission Research, some 41% of the world’s 560 million Protestants live in Africa. This could climb to 53% by 2050.

The challenges this will bring are enormous, including the relationship between the Western and the non-Western church, which has not always been an easy one.

But rather than worry about the possible tensions, perhaps we should celebrate the growing strength of Christianity in that part of the world as opposed to the “rise of the nones” in our own.


We may soon need them to send missionaries our way.

James Emery White



Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Matthew Mpoke Bigg, “Faith Puts Ghana at Heart of Global Christianity,” Religion News Service, March 1, 2017, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

The New Center of the Christian World