Pew predicts baby booms will determine future of global faiths much more than conversions.

To remain the world’s largest religious group, Christians are going to have to heed Genesis and be fruitful and multiply—not just in the mission field, but also in the bedroom.

Christian births will be outpaced by Muslim births within 20 years, according to new projections released today by the Pew Research Center. Between 2030 and 2035, Christian mothers are expected to welcome fewer babies (224 million) than Muslims (225 million) for the first time in history.

By 2060, such growth will result in the global population of Christians and Muslims reaching neck and neck—totaling 3.1 billion and 3 billion, respectively—with each tradition accounting for nearly 1 in 3 people on earth. Over the 45-year period, the Christian population holds steady around 31 percent, while the Muslim population edges up from 24 percent to the same level.

The new report extends Pew’s previous projections and adds more detail about the expected impact of conversions, which don’t change the size of religious populations as dramatically as birth rates. (CT previously examined how babies will halt the Great Commission.)

“In different areas, you’ll see different factors, but a lot of the growth is through birth,” said Bert Hickman, senior research associate at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Currently, Muslim families are having more kids than any other religious group in the world, according to the Pew findings. Muslims around the world average 2.9 children; Christians come in second with 2.6. No other faith has birth rates high enough to grow faster than the population overall. Women without a religious affiliation have just 1.6 kids on average, …

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