James Kushiner at the Touchstone blog quotes an article about how the Lutheran church of Tanzania is standing up in the Lutheran World Federation to oppose the normalization of homosexuality, resolving to reject all aid from the Western Lutherans who accept gay marriage. Kushiner then marvels at the comment in the news story that Tanzania has the world’s second largest Lutheran church. He then a little research, finding these to be the top ten (in millions):
1. Church of Sweden 6.75
2. Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania 5.3
3. Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus 5.3
4. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 4.6 number on rolls; only 2.7 mil. have taken communion in the past two years
5. Church of Denmark 4.56. Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland 4.5
7. Protestant Christian Batak Church, Indonesia 4.2
8. Church of Norway 4.0
9. Malagasy Lutheran Church 3.0
10. Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, Germany 3.0
What can we learn from this list? For example, I find it interesting that #2, 3, 7, & 9 are in countries with strong Muslim populations. Far from being “a German church,” Lutheranism is more like an African church. As Kushiner says, there are likely more Lutherans worshipping in Africa on any given Sunday than in Europe and the United States put together. Especially considering that the European state churches pretty much list all of their citizens as members, even though they hardly ever attend.
Does anyone have any reliable numbers as to the total number of Lutherans in the world? I had heard that Lutheranism is the largest Protestant tradition, with some 100,000,000 adherents. Then I heard that Anglicanism was, citing about as many. But the actual numbers I have dug up seem to be way out of date, especially given the growth of the church in Africa.