Updated Maps on the Progress of Taiwan’s Protestant Churches Based on the 2017 – 2018 Taiwan Church Handbook*

 

This set of maps presents changes in population, number of Protestant churches, and the population / number of Protestant churches ratio for all 358 cities (市), city districts (區), towns (鎮), and townships (鄉) of Taiwan seen when comparing the information in the 2015 – 2016 and 2017 – 2018 Taiwan Church Handbooks (TCH). We praise the Lord that this comparison shows that there has been continued growth in the number of Protestant churches in Taiwan! At the same time, challenges in the work of the gospel certainly remain.

 

These maps fall into four categories: population, number of churches, population / number of Protestant churches ratio for all places in Taiwan, and the population / number of Protestant churches ratios for cities, districts, towns, and townships grouped according to their population size.

 

The bilingual name list that accompanies this Introduction gives the name in Chinese characters and in English for each of the numbered areas on the maps.

 

A Maps – Population

 

Map A1 shows the population given in the 2017 – 2018 TCH for each place in Taiwan. These figures are government population statistics from December, 2014.

 

Map A2 shows where the population grew and where it declined between the two church handbooks. The government population statistics used for the 2015 – 2016 TCH are from December, 2012, so the population changes all reflect a two-year period.

 

Map A3 goes a step beyond Map A2 in that it shows the changes in the population as percentages. Also, it makes a separate category, shown in grey, for all those areas that either grew by less than 1% or declined by less than 1%. Light and dark blue and green and orange colors, on the other hand, show where the changes in population were more significant. Population decline in rural areas has been going on for quite a while. Taiwan’s total population grew by 0.44% between the two church handbooks. However, the light and dark blue areas on this map show that 141 areas declined in population by more than 1% during this time. Near the large cities and in some areas in the mountains there are 88 areas whose population grew from 1% to 10.6%.

 

Map A4 shows the population density for the cities, districts, towns, and townships of Taiwan.

 

B Maps – Numbers of Protestant Churches

 

Map B1 shows the number of Protestant churches for all areas of Taiwan.

 

The total number of Protestant churches listed in the 2017 – 2018 TCH is 3,928. This is an increase of 126 churches, which is a 3.3% increase above the total of 3,802 churches in the 2015 – 2016 TCH. Taiwan’s total population grew by only 0.44% between the two handbooks so it is an encouragement when we see that the percentage increase in the number of Protestant churches outpaced the population growth rate by a significant margin.

 

The overall population / number of Protestant churches ratio for all of Taiwan is now one church for every 5,930 people according to the information in the 2017 - 2018 TCH. This is likely the first time this ratio has gone below 6,000!

 

Two years earlier, the data in the 2015 – 2016 TCH showed that all 358 cities, districts, towns, and townships of Taiwan had at least one Protestant church. However, the 2017 - 2018 TCH indicates that New Taipei City’s Shihting District (石碇區), #31, again has no Protestant church. Two Protestant churches were listed for Shihting two years ago, but it has lost both of them.

 

Map B2 shows which areas of Taiwan had a net gain or net loss in the number of Protestant churches, or saw no net change. It is good to see so many areas, 98 in all, that gained at least one church. It’s also good to see that these areas were located in nearly all parts of Taiwan.

 

Map B3 shows the actual number of gains or losses of churches between the two church handbooks.

 

Map B4 shows only the 98 areas that had a net gain in the number of churches.

 

Map B5 shows the 33 areas that had net losses of one or two churches. Among the large cities of Taiwan, Kaohsiung City’s core districts were noticeable for the decrease in the number of churches. However, the net loss of eight churches, spread over 5 districts, represented only a 2.9% decrease in the number of churches in the original 11 core districts.

 

Map B6 shows all the areas of Taiwan that have three, or fewer, Protestant churches.

 

Map B7 focuses on the 36 areas in Taiwan that have only one Protestant church. The bilingual place name and population from the 2017 – 2018 TCH are given on the face of the map for each area. In each of these areas there is a certain vulnerability since if the one church present were to close there would be no other organized resident witness to the gospel. The yellow areas on the map may be especially vulnerable since the populations are so small (less than 5,000 people). On the other hand, in the higher population areas, if the one church were to close a population of 20,000 or 30,000 people would lose its resident witness to the gospel.

 

Map B8 is designed to be used with Map B7 in that in B8 the population density is shown for each of the areas on Map B7. In B8 it can be seen that one of the two red areas (#146) in B7 has twice the population density of the other red area (#161). Perhaps the higher population density in #146 would make it a little easier to start a new church there. Another thing that stands out in Map B8 is that Meishan Township ( #189) has just over 20,000 people, has only one church, but has an overall low population density. The low population density may make it a challenge to find a good place to start a second church there.

 

C Maps – Population / Number of Protestant Churches Ratios

 

Map C1 shows the range of the population / number of Protestant churches ratio for each of the cities, districts, towns, and townships of Taiwan based on the information in the 2017 – 2018 TCH. The range of this ratio continues to be very wide, from a low of 219 (Pingtung County, Shihtzu Township, #307) to a high of 36,457 (Changhua County, Tatsun Township, #146).

 

Map C2 is a dual map that shows the changes in the population / number of Protestant churches ratios seen when the information from the 2017 – 2018 TCH is compared with that for the 2011 – 2012 TCH. Significant improvement is seen over the six years between the two handbooks. In a number of places the darker colors (higher ratios) in the 2011 – 2012 map changed to the lighter colors seen in the 2017 -2018 map, indicating that the number of Protestant churches has become relatively greater in comparison to the population.

 

Map C3 is also a dual map comparing the information in the 2011 – 2012 TCH and the 2017 – 2018 TCH. For this map, though, only the places that have no Protestant church, or for which the population / number of Protestant churches ratio is above 15,000 are included. Comparing the places that meet this criteria shows there were great improvements during the six years between these two handbooks. The short data tables on the face of the map show great differences: the 58 places on the 2011 - 2012 map dropped sharply to only 28 places. The population of the people living in the areas meeting the criteria fell from 2.8 million in the 2011 – 2012 TCH to 1.4 million. The number of areas in the orange ratio range fell from 19 to just 6, while those in the purple ratio range fell from 32 to 19. Praise the Lord!

 

Map C4 repeats the map on the right hand side of map C3 but also adds the English and Chinese names, the population, and the number of churches for each area on the map.

 

Map C5 is designed to be used with Map C4 in that it shows the population density of each of the areas on C4. Nine of the areas on the map have a population density that is greater than 1,000 people / square kilometer. That may make them somewhat easier places to start new churches.

 

D Maps – Population / Number of Protestant Churches Ratios For Areas of Taiwan that Fall Into Four Population Levels

 

Map D1 shows the population / number of Protestant churches ratios for all areas in Taiwan that have a population over 100,000. There are 69 areas shown on the map. Their total population is 14,128,393, which is 60.6% of the total Taiwan population. There are 2,188 Protestant churches located in the 69 places on the map. The overall population / number of Protestant churches ratio for the 69 places is 6,457. Of the 69 areas shown on the map, 56 are in the yellow and green ranges of the population / number of Protestant churches ratio.

 

Map D2 looks at the 13 areas on Map D1 that have a population / number of Protestant churches ratio over 10,000. The total population of these 13 areas is 3,176,132, which is 13.6% of Taiwan’s total population. A total of 259 Protestant churches are located in these 13 areas. The overall population / number of Protestant churches ratio for the 13 areas is 12,263.

 

There are three areas on this map for which the population / number of Protestant churches ratio is over 15,000: New Taipei City’s Luchou District (#44), Taoyuan City’s Pate District (#52), and Tainan City’s Annan District (#235). The total population of these three districts is 568,956. There are only 31 Protestant churches between these three districts, which means that for these three districts there is, overall, only one church for every 18,353 people.

 

The D2 map shows a continuing challenge for the work of the gospel. These 13 high population areas have a relatively low church presence in comparison to the great majority of areas in Taiwan that have a population over 100,000. Luchou, Pate, and Annan Districts have a particularly low number of Protestant churches in comparison to their populations.

 

Map D3 shows the population / number of Protestant churches ratios for all areas in Taiwan that have a population over 50,000 and below 100,000. There are 59 areas shown on the map. Their total population is 4,242,466, which is 18.2% of the total Taiwan population. There are 601 Protestant churches located in the 59 places on the map and the overall population / number of Protestant churches ratio for these areas is 7,059.

 

Map D4 shows the population / number of Protestant churches ratios for all areas in Taiwan that have a population over 20,000 and below 50,000. There are 112 areas shown on the map. Their total population is 3,646,520, which is 15.7% of the total Taiwan population. There are 481 Protestant churches located in these 112 areas and the overall population / number of Protestant churches ratio for the 112 places is 7,581. The areas on this map include both of the areas in Taiwan that fall into the red range of the population / number of Protestant churches ratio and five of the six that are in the orange range.

 

Map D5 shows the population / number of Protestant churches ratios for all areas in Taiwan that have a population that is less than 20,000. There are 118 areas shown on the map. Their total population is 1,276,714, which is 5.5% of the total Taiwan population. There are 658 Protestant churches located in these 118 areas and the overall population / number of Protestant churches ratio for the 119 areas is 1,940. This is the segment of Taiwan’s population that, by far, has the largest Protestant church presence in comparison to the population. Of all the areas on this map only 15 have a population / number of Protestant churches ratio above 10,000. Eight of these are in the blue range of the ratio and seven are in the purple range.

 

This set of maps is submitted to the TMF website with praise to God for the progress being made by the Protestant churches of Taiwan! It is hoped that these maps will be useful tools for prayer and for ministry planning in many parts of the island.

 

George McFall, TEAM, March, 2017

 

*Church data source: 2017 - 2018 Taiwan Church Handbook, Christian Resource Center, Taichung. 統計的來源: 2017 - 2018 年台閩地區基督教堂會, 宗派, 宣教機構一覽表 基督教資料中心發行, 台中

 

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