Migrants from Africa, Asia and South America boost evangelism in Europe

(Photo: © Peter Kenny)Ethiopian Christians at a church service at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva, Switzerland in February 2017.

A new report from European Christian Mission finds that migrant Christians from South America, Asia and Africa are boosting evangelism in Europe.

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Europe 2021 – A Missiological Report is authored by Jim Memory, a member of the ECM international leadership team and lecturer in European mission at All Nations Christian College in England, Christian Today reports.

“In many ways, Christianity is what made Europe,” says the report.

“No other continent has been exposed to Christianity for such a prolonged period and in such an extensive way,” it says.

“Yet just as Europe was the first continent to be Christianized, it was also the first to be de-Christianized.”

The 50-page document published in July seeks to address the major trends in Europe shaping the context for Christian mission in the continent.

‘CULTURAL CHRISTIANITY’

Memory writes: “Europe is perhaps the greatest challenge in world mission today. Most Europeans appear to have been inoculated against the Gospel by the vaccine of cultural Christianity.

“However, I believe the weakness of the Church is also God’s opportunity.

“More than ever before, European Christians are collaborating, networking, and planting churches together, and into that mix, God has brought the vitality of Christians from the Majority World.”

The report says Europe may be the greatest challenge in world mission today.

“Most Europeans appear to have been inoculated against the gospel by the vaccine of cultural Christianity,” writes Memory.

“However, I believe the weakness of the Church is also God’s opportunity. More than ever before, European Christians are collaborating, networking, and planting churches together, and into that mix, God has brought the vitality of Christians from the Majority World.”

He notes that Latin-American migrants have planted thousands of churches in Spain, Portugal and elsewhere over the last 30 years.

“It is difficult to find a major European city that does not have a large Spanish speaking and/or Brazilian congregation,” writes Memory.

Chinese churches “can be found almost everywhere,” he explains.

“The Chinese Overseas Christian Mission lists over 120 Chinese-speaking congregations in the UK and a further 150 in the rest of Europe, though that is certainly only a fraction of the actual churches that exist,” says Memory.

AFRICAN-INITIATED PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN UK

It is the black African churches that are the “most numerous,” with thousands of African-initiated Pentecostal churches in Britain alone, the report notes.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God has over 750 congregations today and is planting around 25 new churches in Britain every year. More churches belong to the Church of Pentecost, Christ Embassy and Christ Apostolic Tabernacle.

“If you have an African population in your city, there will almost certainly be an African diaspora church, even if you are not aware of it,” notes Memory.

The report outlines the how mission can face challenges due to de-Christianization of Europe over the last half millennium.

It says, “Of course, some parts of Africa and Asia saw Christianity become dominant and then lose that dominance to Islam long before any European country became thoroughly evangelized.

“The difference is, whereas during the first 1,500 years of Christian history, de-Christianization was the result of the loss of ‘Christian lands’ to invaders, the de-Christianization of Europe over the last 500 years has occurred from within.”

Memory writes at the end, “Nevertheless, the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13; Mark 4; Luke 8) points to the importance of the soil (the context) for the reception of the gospel message and the propagation of the Kingdom of God.

“Though Europe’s soil today might appear arid and unyielding, the seed of the Kingdom is being sown and will produce fruit. Our task is to sow. (Galatians 6:9).”

Rev. Frank Hinkelmann, president of the European Evangelical Alliance says “Jim Memory’s missiological report starts by providing an excellent overview of the general and the spiritual context Christians are facing in Europe.”

He says it considers the COVID-19 pandemic, before moving on to trends in European mission and the implications for mission in Europe.

“This paper should be a must-read for all those interested in missions in and to Europe,” says Hinkelmann.

Langham Partnership’s Dr Chris Wright called the report “timely” and “essential reading for all those who, in any part of the world, are concerned about mission in, from and to, the continent of Europe”.

“Thoroughly documented from secular sources and theological expertise, this is the kind of resource that is increasingly needed for intelligent Christian engagement in our alarmingly changed world,” he said.

Rev Israel Oluwole Olofinjana, Director of the Evangelical Alliance’s One People Commission, said: “Reverse missionaries and indigenous missionaries will find this report very helpful for understanding the European scene in order to contextualise their mission.”


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