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World Christian Encyclopedia is a reference work published by Oxford University Press, known for providing membership statistics for major and minor world religions in every country of the world, including historical data and projections of future populations.

The first edition, by David B. Barrett, was published in 1982. The second edition (ISBN 978-0195079630), by Barrett, George Thomas Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson, was published in 2001. The research team was originally based in Nairobi, Kenya, and later relocated to Richmond, Virginia.[1]

Despite the name, the encyclopedia includes membership data for numerous non-Christian religions. However, the work has been described as serving as "an informational undergirding for Christian missionary work".[2]

The data incorporated into the World Christian Encyclopedia have been made available online at the World Christian Database (WCD). One study found that the WCD's data was "highly correlated with other sources that offer cross-national religious composition estimates" but the database "consistently gives a higher estimate for percent Christian in comparison to other cross-national data sets".[3]

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has announced plans for the publication of a third edition through Edinburgh University Press. The five-year project to update the demographic and descriptive material in the encyclopedia is intended to culminate with the publication of the new edition in 2020.[4]


  1. ^ Garrison, David (Fall 2004). "Church Planting Movements: The Next Wave?" (PDF). International Journal of Frontier Missions. 21 (3): 118. Retrieved 2007-11-28.
  2. ^ Ostling, Richard N. (2001-05-19). "Researcher tabulates world's believers". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-11-28.
  3. ^ Hsu, Becky; Amy Reynolds; Conrad Hackett; James Gibbon (2008). "Estimating the Religious Composition of All Nations: An Empirical Assessment of the World Christian Database" (PDF). Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 47 (4): 691–692. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2008.00435.x. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
  4. ^ "World Christian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2019-06-01.

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