It is often said that there are up to 40 thousand Christian denominations.

What is the original source of this claim, and how are the denominations classified?

  • I did find this helpful explanation but it concerns the claim of there being only 33 thousand denominations.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 26, 2018 at 0:59
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    I can't stress enough, the "denominations" of Catholicism are not equal to the "denominations" of Protestantism, all groups of Catholicism are all under one belief and magisterium. Not competing churches with contradicting dogma.
    – aska123
    Apr 26, 2018 at 5:47
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    @aska123 That goes both ways, these stats seem to basically cut up all denominations by country. Divide 40000 by 200 and you get 200, a number much closer to what most people would probably expect. And the number of meaningful divisions within Protestantism drops much further if you apply the criteria of contradicting dogma.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 26, 2018 at 5:57
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    see this answer christianity.stackexchange.com/a/56053/22319
    – depperm
    Apr 26, 2018 at 11:44
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    Possible duplicate of How many Christian denominations are there?
    – depperm
    Apr 26, 2018 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


The 40,000 figure comes from a chart that is quoted by the "Best Estimates" web site, the estimation comes from the a chart that is linked below originally provided by Gordon Conwell Edu. It is an estimation of where things stand now in Christianity world wide. This figure is actually off now, and has been surpassed as time has passed. If you go to line 41 of the original chart the figure should now be over 45,000 separate denominations, and should grow to 55K by 2025!


  • 2
    That's an impressive chart.... But it suggests an average denomination membership of 53K when Catholic membership is 1.22B. That would mean a massive number of 100-300 member "denominations." I wonder how the study defines the word?
    – JBH
    Apr 28, 2018 at 3:13
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    @JBH They divide denominations by countries, such that there are ~200 RCC denominations, not even including the Eastern Catholic denominations.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 30, 2018 at 10:18

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