Evangelical church in Ireland is growing, attracting majority religion

By June 23, 2005

Ireland (MNN) — According to a recent survey by the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, the number of Evangelicals is growing, at least in one part of the country. The survey estimates that there are an estimated 13,000 people worshipping in evangelical congregations every week in the Dublin area, many of whom are coming from the Catholic Church.

Greater Europe Mission’s Phil Kingsley has worked in Ireland for 23 years. “There’s just a radical explosion in comparison in the number of new churches and the number of new church groups.”

25 years ago there were only 40 evangelical churches in the region, with an average of 20 to 30 members. Now 130 churches have been identified with an average membership of 100. Kingsley says most of these members are coming from the Catholic Church. “There have been a lot of disappointments in the Catholic Church over the last few years. Things have come out in the media that have shaken basic assumptions that people have had and people are not ready to give up on God and ready to give up on spirituality, but they’re coming back and saying, ‘Is there another option?’ ”

While many believe immigration is responsible for the growth, the survey dispels this assumption. 78-percent of the members are Irish, while just 22-percent are foreign-born.

While evangelicals still number less than one-percent of the population of Ireland, Kingsley is excited about the quality of its make up. “One of the exciting things for us, from our standpoint, is to see local Irish Christians — they themselves are stepping up and saying, ‘God is calling us to be the (in) in the forefront of spreading the message of Jesus, the message of hope and life across this nation.”

Greater Europe Mission is facilitating church planting and desires to see a self-supporting evangelical church throughout Ireland. Kingsley says, “Really the whole focus of our mission is to work toward seeing an authentic example of the body of Christ — a witnessing, evangelical fellowship within geographical and we say ‘cultural’ reach of every man, woman and child in Ireland.”

Pray for their youth ministry, counseling, and church pastoral training programs. All three areas are important in seeing a growing, healthy church in Ireland.

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