List of Protestant Denominations?

I have heard for quite some time now that there are in excess of 30,000 Protestant denominations. Does anybody know where an exhaustive list of this could be obtained? I wouldn’t ask anybody to post it on here…Somehow I don’t think there would be room in a post LOL God bless.


I think what is meant, Protestants don’t have a central governing body tieing them all together in doctrine and dogma. They splintered into so many pieces that each group is their own governing body beholding only to that specific group in a particular location. Ergo each name on a building where they gather, is a seperate denomination.

30,000 may be inflated. It’s probably closer to 10,000 just FYI.

You can find most of the American ones at the World Christian database. You used to be able to browse them for free, but looks like you need a subscription now… It looks like PhilVaz had put them in an excel spreadsheet which you can get here.

And this article about the total number.

Thank you very much for the references.

Sadly, even if there was only ONE protestant denomination, that would be One to many, not that they are not good Christians because they are, its just very sad that they are separated from the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

God is not the God of confusion, but how confusing it must be with the vast number of different denominations, no matter how many.

I don’t think there is a definitive list out there. For the fact there are 33,000 different Protestant denomination is still 33,000 too many.

Each individual Baptist community is completely autonomous from all others, they are associated but there is no governing authority that binds them. Therefore, by definition each is a separate denomination.

The Southern Baptist Convention claims to have over 42,000 member churches. So that’s 42,000 denominations there.

I think that the 30,000+ number includes the (essentially countless) number of independent churches who are not affiliated with any denomination.

From Google: Denomination- a group of religious congregations having its own organization and a distinctive faith

I don’t question the 30K number, but the SBC counts as one.

The problem with that is that you haven’t defined what is meant by “having its own organization”.

Google and wikipedia are hardly reputable sources for definitions. A better one is Webster’s Unabridged, which defines “denomination” as a large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy.

The part about “organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy” is an important part of the defintion of “denomination”, and with that reasonable clarification the SBC counts as 42,000.

The term denomination is broken down etymologically as de-nominate. This means to break away from an original monicker and calling oneself something else. In religious context, it means a sub-species of the original.

Just go to your local yellow pages under “churches”. Count how many churches there are that are unique to your area only. Figure the percentage of those to the population of your area, then apply this percentage to the nation’s population. Using that formula I came up with around 30,000 and I only used a national population of 200 million.

The Number of Protestant Denominations

The source for this is the **World Christian Encylopedia **published by Oxford Press and edited by David Barrett.

The publisher has a major facility located in Cary, NC near my home, and I have held this book (two volumes, actually) in my own hands and confirmed the numbers printed there. You can view more information about this book here:…/dp/0195103181

For a more conservative number, try this The World Christian Database produced by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) available here:

OK, I will work off of the Webster definition. If a denomination is a “large group of religious congregations,” we can either count the SBC as one denomination, or not at all. 42,000 independent congregations are just that, independent, not a denomination.

This is what I have. I am not attesting to its accuracy. See attachement.

This number is from a Protestant source World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson. It cites 9000 Protestant denominations, 21, 340 independent denominations, and 168 Anglican denominations. However this is probably quite inaccurate, for example it lists Roman Catholic Churches in the US, Canada, and other countries as separate denominations. Here’s their list of Protestant denominations. As a general rule I wouldn’t trust non-Catholic sources, they are generally not rigorous about fact checking. If they were, they wouldn’t be Protestant any more ;). Here is a Catholic source that gives the number as closer to 5000 which I believe is much more accurate. Here is the comprehensive list of the 5000:

I hope this helps bring some accuracy to these wild ‘estimates’

If the 30,000+ number isn’t accurate, why do Catholics use it so frequently then? Thanks for the link :slight_smile:

I accept with information: The source for this is the World Christian Encylopedia published by Oxford Press and edited by David Barrett.

Because it is not certain that the number is inaccurate. I posted a photo of the World Encyclopedia above…as you can see, it takes two very large volumes to contain all of the data.

Since someone has gone to a lot of trouble to document his research, I think we should not dismiss it lightly.

The number of Protestant denominations is VERY large, considerably more than the ONE that Jesus promised to build in Matthew 16:18, and while 30,000 may be a bit of a projection based upon the research referenced, it is a very good projection backed by real research.

Regardless of the actual number (and it’s well into the thousands no matter how you count them, IMO), the problem of the ongoing division among Protestant communities flummoxes Protestants - I don’t recall ever hearing a coherent response to this - other than those fundamentalists who take the “I can’t help it if everyone else is wrong” approach.

Nothing reveals the absurdity of sola scriptura better than the scandal of Protestant denominationalism.

Google it, if you are curious. I’m not spending my time listing all of them for anyone, especially since we all have computer access.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit