How many Christians are in China?


Estimates on how many Christians there are in China vary widely. In 2004 the Chinese Communist Party reported 18 million baptized Christians in China’s Three Self churches.

Applying a conservative annual growth rate of 5% over the past 10 years brings the 2004 figure to 29 million baptized Christians in China’s Three Self Churches as of 2014.

This 29 million figure excludes the Christian children of the baptized Three Self church Christians because the Chinese government forbids baptism until 18 years of age. Using a conservative ratio of 1 Christian child under 18 years of age for every 5 baptized adults takes the current number of Three Self Church Christians to 35 million (29 million + 20%).

Estimates on the ratio of underground house church Christians to Three Self church Christians generally range from 3 to 5. Using the in-between ratio of 4 results in a figure of 140 million (35 million x 4) house church Christians.

140 million (house church) + 35 million (Three Self church) = 175 million. But this figure double counts about a third (approximately 12 million) of the Three Self church Christians who also attend house churches during the week. Subtracting 12 million from the total brings us to approximately 163 million Christians in China as of 2014.

This figure is corroborated by Xiaowen Ye, head of the Communist Party’s State Administration of Religious Affairs, who reported at a 2006 closed door meeting at Peking University in 2006 that the Protestants in China numbered 110 million.

2014 – 2006 = 8 years. Applying the same conservative annual growth rate of 5% (110 million x 1.05) over those 8 years also results in 163 million as the number of Christians in China as of 2014. This number represents about 12% of China’s 1.4 billion people.

In 1958 Mao’s wife said: “Christianity in China has been confined to museums. It is dead and buried.”

This “dead and buried” faith has turned out to be very much alive and growing. More Chinese attend church each Sunday than are members of the Communist Party. There are far more Christians in China than in the United States.

And the spiritual harvest continues.