The Religion Singularity

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  • Title: The Religion Singularity: A Demographic Crisis Destabilizing and Transforming Institutional Christianity
  • Author(s): Kenneth Howard
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Religion in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society
  • Keywords: Christianity, Denomination, Denominational Decline, Fragmentation, Institutional Christianity, Religion Singularity, Singularity, Sustainability, Technological Singularity, Worship Center
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2154-8633 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2154-8641 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2154-8633/CGP/v07i02/77-93
  • Citation: Howard, Kenneth W. 2017. "The Religion Singularity: A Demographic Crisis Destabilizing and Transforming Institutional Christianity." The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society 7 (2): 77-93. doi:10.18848/2154-8633/CGP/v07i02/77-93.
  • Extent: 17 pages

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to trace the emergence of a worldwide church demographic crisis that the author calls the “Religion Singularity,” and to project its impact on the future of institutional Christianity. For nineteen centuries, Christianity experienced strong and steady growth in the total numbers of Christians, worship centers, and denominations worldwide. Since then growth in the number of Christians has continued largely unchanged. But growth in the number of denominations and worship centers turned sharply upward in recent decades, substantially exceeding the growth rate of the total Christian population. This differential is driving a concurrent decline in the size of those institutions to unsustainable levels by the end of the century. The author suggests that denominations are unlikely to survive this severe downsizing. Meanwhile, given their smaller size and more organic structure, worship centers are more likely to survive the religion singularity than their larger counterparts, but only if they are willing to become vision-guided and experimental.