Ancestor Worship

While millions across the globe live in fear of the spirit world, Jesus holds all power and authority and His love casts out all fear.




• Pray for fear to be shattered and replaced with the peace and freedom of Christ.


• Pray for more missionaries to bring Jesus' name to unreached and forgotten tribes.


• Pray for a knowledge of God's grace to overtake the uncertainty of works and appeasement.




The traditions of animism, tribalism, and ancestor worship are often regarded as things of the past, no longer practiced in the modern world. But in reality, the age-old beliefs of ancestors, spirits, and communication with the dead still hold many people across the globe in great bondage. These people are loved by God, created in His image, and He wants them to return to Him. Animism, tribalism, and ancestor worship have existed among numerous cultures since the earliest of times. Their motivations and types of worship vary greatly and have found their way into the practices of many other religions as well. Roughly 150 million people, spread across all continents - especially Africa and Asia - practice some type of traditional animist religion. Spirit worship, oral traditions, and myths have influenced many aspects of our global culture by assimilating expressions of tribal tattoos, idols, and fetishes. Many around the world respect the spirit world, even if they can’t explain why. Though animism in its purest and original form still exists in pockets throughout the world, a syncretism of animism with other major world religions is an increasing global reality, even within the Christian faith.


Traditional religions and the worship of spirits developed in numerous places before most formal religions. Beliefs and practices have varied greatly, but some similarities are evident. All ancestor worship and tribal religions view spirits as the utmost power of the world. But the Bible says, “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him” (Col 1:16). While some followers may believe in a higher power - often viewed as the earth or the sun - these beliefs are based mainly on placating spirits, warding off harm during one’s life and in the afterlife. Spirits may be those generated by the earth or those who have passed from this life, but they are believed to have dominion over people, bringing either blessings or curses. But the Bible says, “For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘to the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made this world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands…” (Acts 17:23-25). Many around the world participate in sacrificial worship and other rituals, often mixing these animistic practices into other major religions like Islam, Buddhism, and even Christianity. Animals, food, money, and other worldly possessions are sacrificed in rituals meant to please the spirits and/or help ensure a comfortable afterlife. But the Bible says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps 51:17).


The number of those practicing traditional worship and animistic beliefs is decreasing rapidly. New religions have taken root within people groups that once practiced spirit worship, slowly dissipating the thought that those in the afterlife can affect the here-and-now. Because the variety of people who uphold this old system span across the globe, many are being reached by Christian missionaries focusing on other major religions. For example, Animistic-Muslim tribes of Southeast Asia are being reached by missionaries working among Muslims, while those practicing ancestor worship in China are being reached and influenced by the Chinese church. Animists in Africa are being reached by not only missionaries and local Christians, but dreams and visions in which Jesus makes Himself known to them. The greatest missionaries to Animists are their fellow Christian neighbors living alongside them everyday. By living out the Word of Christ, local believers are able to act as witnesses of the Gospel, helping those lost around them recognize and understand Jesus’ love for them. The Word of the Lord is continually being shared among these people and hope is being brought in the name of Jesus.


Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

I John 4:4


What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Romans 8:31-34


For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

Romans 1:19-22


Number of adherents: 150 million

Birthplace: none

Founder: none

Date Founded: pre-history

Holy Book/Text: none

Holy Sites: none

Major Subgroups: Voodoo, Shamanism, Witch doctors

Growth Rate: decreasing, rate unknown

% of Growth, Conversion: unknown

% of Growth, Birth: unknown

Who They Worship: ancestors, spirits, the Earth

Place of Worship: outdoors, home