A close-up photo capturing a diverse group of Christians, hands clasped in prayer, symbolizing the unity and multitude of denominations in Christianity in 2024.

How Many Denominations Of Christianity Are There In 2024?

With over 2 billion followers globally, Christianity is the world’s largest religion. It’s also incredibly diverse, encompassing dozens of denominations with different beliefs, practices, and interpretations of scripture.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: there are approximately 45,000 different Christian denominations worldwide as of 2024.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the origins of Christian denominations, provide an overview of the major branches, discuss the challenges in determining an exact count, and more.

The Origins and Growth of Christian Denominations

The Split Between Catholic and Orthodox Churches

In the early centuries of Christianity, there was essentially one unified church. However, tensions began to emerge between the churches in the East (centered in Constantinople) and the West (centered in Rome).

These tensions culminated in 1054 CE with the “Great Schism,” when the churches formally split into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox denominations. The primary divides were over language (Greek vs. Latin), papal authority, and whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist.

Since then, the Catholic and Orthodox churches have continued operating independently while maintaining similar rituals and doctrines. There have been periodic efforts to reunite them, including the Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439), but the schism remains to this day.

Currently, the Catholic Church has around 1.3 billion adherents worldwide, while there are estimated to be around 200-300 million Orthodox Christians.

The Protestant Reformation

The next major split came in the 16th century with the Protestant Reformation. This was led by reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and King Henry VIII who protested various Catholic doctrines and practices.

Two of the main issues were objections to the selling of indulgences and the vast corruption within the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. Other concerns included denying the authority of the Pope and advocating for translating the Bible into local common languages.

Many new Protestant denominations emerged from the Reformation, including Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Anabaptists, and Arminians. Catholics and Protestants fought extended religious wars, but ultimately Protestantism took hold and spread across Northern Europe.

Globally, there are estimated to be around 900 million Protestants today, making up nearly 40% of all Christians worldwide.

Continued Splintering and Denominational Growth

Even after the Reformation, Christendom continued fracturing into many different branches with subtle distinctions in doctrine and practice. As people moved to different regions and adopted localized traditions, new denominations proliferated.

Some, like Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, grew quite large globally. Others remained smaller regional denominations, like Mennonites, Amish, Quakers, and Moravians.

In addition to these divisions, totally new forms of Christianity developed in the 19th-20th centuries, including Adventism, Mormonism, Pentecostalism, and Christian Science. This rapid splintering means there are now over 45,000 different Christian denominations worldwide.

Yet all still trace their roots back to the original unified church founded nearly 2,000 years ago.

The Major Branches of Christianity


Catholicism is the largest denomination of Christianity, with approximately 1.3 billion followers globally as of 2022, according to the Catholic News Agency. The Catholic Church is led by the Pope and bishops.

Distinctive Catholic doctrinal and liturgical beliefs include apostolic succession, the sacraments, veneration of saints, Marian devotion, and papal primacy.


Protestantism originated in the 16th century Reformation, breaking off from the Catholic Church. As of 2022, there are estimated to be between 800 million and 1 billion Protestants worldwide, making up the second largest branch of Christianity after Catholicism, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

Some key Protestant beliefs include salvation through faith alone, the authority of scripture over tradition, and the priesthood of all believers.


The Eastern Orthodox Church split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054 AD and has over 250 million followers worldwide as of 2022. The Orthodox churches are a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by a Holy Synod of bishops headed by a patriarch.

Distinctive Orthodox Christian beliefs include an emphasis on liturgy and sacraments, veneration of icons, a married priesthood, and the idea of theosis or union with God.

Other Notable Denominations

Some other significant Christian groups and denominations worldwide include:

  • Anglicanism – 85 million followers globally
  • Non-denominational evangelical churches – 72 million
  • Methodism – 60 million
  • Lutheranism – 76 million
  • Baptists – 47 million
  • Pentecostalism – 280 million

While exact statistics vary, Christianity remains the world’s largest religion with over 2.5 billion followers globally, making up almost one-third of the world’s population. The faith continues to diversify into new denominations and movements.

Challenges in Determining an Exact Number

Disagreements Over What Constitutes a Distinct Denomination

There is no consensus among scholars and religious statisticians on what constitutes a distinct Christian denomination. Some argue that denominations must differ substantially in doctrine and practice to be considered truly distinct.

Others use more inclusive definitions that consider even relatively minor differences in worship style, church governance, or social views as warranting separate denomination status.

This disagreement leads to varying totals when counting denominations. More expansive definitions produce totals numbering in the tens of thousands globally. Stricter definitions still count thousands of distinct denominations.

Overlapping Classifications

In many cases, the boundaries between denominations blur and overlap. Some denominations share the same origins and doctrines but operate as independent organizations for administrative purposes. Others have split due to ideological divides within the faith, resulting in multiple denominations still following the same essential teachings.

This prevalence of overlapping classifications creates challenges in clearly differentiating denominations. Simply counting organizational units risks either over-counting groups that are essentially aligned or under-counting subdivisions of larger faith traditions.

New Denominations Continually Forming

The decentralized and dynamic nature of Christianity allows for new denominations to continually emerge. As theological innovations arise or administrative needs prompt reorganization, new branches sprout from the tree of the faith.

While many of these new denominations remain small and limited in scope, some grow to substantial size and influence. For example, over 105 million Christians worldwide were affiliated with denominations that originated in the 20th century or later, according to a 2011 Pew Research study.

With new denominations frequently forming while longstanding divisions merge or dissolve, an exact count at any point in time is elusive. The total can only convey a reasonable approximation of this complex, shifting landscape.


With centuries of schisms, reformations, and theological disputes, Christianity has fractured into a wide array of denominations. While an exact count is elusive, most experts estimate there are around 45,000 different Christian denominations globally as of 2024.

The diversity within Christianity can make it challenging to study and categorize all these groups. Yet this variety also demonstrates the religion’s adaptability and lasting significance worldwide.

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