Christian denominations

I’ve seen the figure of 41000 quoted as the approximate number of Christian confessions/denominations in the world. Do others find that figure plausible, or even know it to be substantiated?


That same study shows that there are 284 different Catholic Churches. Their methodology is flawed. That being said, there are probably hundreds of thousand of denominations if we include every “Bible Church” cropping up on every corner that only answer to themselves. It’s anyone’s guess but the fact is that Protestantism resembles a piece of shattered glass that continues to splinter each and every day.

Yep. Anyone’s guess.

Final number, whatever it might be, would be greatly affected by whatever assumption/definitions the guesser might make, going in.

Me, I have no idea.


:thumbsup: Nor do I.

I believe it’s from the Oxford Encyclopedia.
However, the definition for “denomination” isn’t exactly how we would define it, so this statistic is misleading to show an accurate count of protestant denominations.
I think the 30,000+ figure is actually all of Christendom (or something of the sort).
I think Protestants were listed at around 8,000.
Although “catholic” denominations were listed in the 200s.
denominations, one can still see that it’s far more numerous for protestants than catholic denominations with the same definition applied.

I’ve seen numbers bandied about ranging from 30,000-40,000 but I’ve never seen a source so far, even though there have been threads here before requesting such. I would also be curious to see the methodology if someone can provide a citation. For example, if a church identifies itself as “non-denominational” are they a one-church denomination? That could explain the high numbers.

As Kmon23 said, the usual source is the protestant World Christian Encyclopedia, published by Oxford Press. They use international borders as a determinant of denominations, as the publication is used as a resource for missionaries.

Nevertheless, instead of descendants as numerous as the sands of the sea shore, we now have that many denominations.

The source for those particular figures is most likely (whether known or not), The WORLD CHRISTIAN TRENDS and the sister publication THE WORLD CHRISTIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA. They perform, regularly, a sociologically based survey of Christian denominations and use an idiosyncratic method of organizing their counting. As they have said, as to their methodology: :

"The definition for denominations used in WCT, and also in our publication World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford, 2001) is as follows:

“Any agency consisting of a number of congregations or churches voluntarily aligning themselves with it. As a statistical unit in this survey, a ‘denomination’ always refers to one single country. Thus the Roman Catholic Church, although a single organization, is described here as consisting of 236 denominations in the world’s 238 countries.”

For whatever reason they count denominations thusly, That is how they reach their total, which currently is likely around 40.000.


So the number could actually be higher, if one takes into account those so called Sunday only house churches, those independent Sunday only type ones that do not meet at houses, but have or conduct a sunday only service at a school, and just recently, i saw an invite for such at a mortuary, where their sunday service is held at the venue for viewings.:shrug:

Sure, absolutely. Or the number could be lower, if one organized the categories differently. Or much much much higher if one made it an axiom for the survey that all those individuals not in communion with Rome are, in fact, their own ultimate authority, which will be defined as a denomination, for the purpose of the survey, and the number approximates the number of individuals Christians not in communion with the Holy Father.

Hyperbolic hypothetical example of how defining categories might effect results.

Whatever the number really is, I have no idea. Whole bunch, likely. I wish someone would make a professional effort to tackle the question.

Incidentally, re: a service at a mortuary. When my parish was hit with a really bad fire, we met for Mass at a local funeral home, for several months. They had kneelers.


I seriously doubt that anyone has pin downed the exact number.

I seriously think you are correct.


:shrug: How would one even go about doing it…:confused:

I could imagine the sort of methodology that could be used. But I can’t imagine who would sponsor it, or undertake it or how, practically, it could be done.

Maybe, like we used to say in my military days, we could make an onageristic, heuristic estimate.


Right…it could go lower…but I think it is closer or maybe above the 40K number…if the independents are counted…the house churches, and those sunday only churches that have no formal tie in with any one.

Incidentally, re: a service at a mortuary. When my parish was hit with a really bad fire, we met for Mass at a local funeral home, for several months. They had kneelers.

But this is a temporary situation…not a permanent meeting place. The independent church that issued the invite branded itself as a bible church…and the mortuary is its permanent place to meet.

Quite a word…:Donageristic. I had no idea what it meant…LOL.

As I said, the number you got would depend on the definition of your target - what was a denomination.

Funeral home story was just war story. “I was there” sort of thing.


Could be used more widely than other ways of expressing it.


I will get to work on that immediately! :thumbsup:

Thanks to all. It seems unwise to use that figure. I think I will have to be satisfied with saying (quantitively) that there are “many” (or, qualitatively, “diverse”) Christian confessions.

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