Europe

Christians in Europe — more dying than being born

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According to Pew Research Christians remained the largest religious group in the world in 2015, making up nearly a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people. But the number of Christians in Europe, is in decline.

But among Christians in Europe deaths outnumbered births by nearly 6 million from 2010 to 2015. In Germany alone, there were an estimated 1.4 million more Christian deaths than births.

Demographics is destiny. Unless you start winning Europeans who are far from God.

The future has arrived

NoPlaceLeft Global Summit on the Western world. Dublin 2017

NoPlaceLeft Global Summit on the Western world. Dublin 2017

Michelle and I are back from Dublin and a global summit on multiplication movements in the  Western world.

It’s happening. Second, third and even fourth generations of disciples and churches in the Western world. Yes in the US. But also in three European nations. 

The gospel does the work if we’ll share it. The guys who showed up don’t know you’re not supposed to share the gospel with Europeans. They don’t know the gospel doesn’t work in Ireland. So in the breaks they stepped outside the door and went looking for people of peace.

After four days they were arranging for two new believers to be baptised and begin discipleship. 

The guys getting to multiplication are in the harvest. The other thing they do is build teams wherever they go. Teams that meet as church doing three thirds discipleship, practicing the skills, going into the harvest every week.

They have simple but powerful tools and stick to them. Methods of connecting, sharing the gospel, doing discipleship, reproducing healthy churches.

They see the whole field. They regularly draw out the groups that are in formation, the churches started, the churches reproducing. They’re working on health. Identifying emerging leadership. Dealing with issues. Inviting experienced practitioners to speak into their situation. Fasting and praying for breakthroughs.

The early adopters in a movement commit because they know it’s right. They feel it. The next wave commits because they witness the early breakthroughs. They see it. If you’re an early adopter you’ve already dived in. Keep going, others have broken through. If you need to see the evidence, the first indicators are there. Time to get some training, reorganise your life and go to work.

Portugal — A European mission field

Last year underdogs Portugal stunned the world when it triumphed over hosts France in the Euro 2016 football final.

All over Portugal fans celebrated the unlikely victory which was secured in extra time. Just 25 minutes into the game their their captain, and three times world player of the year, Christiano Ronaldo was stretchered off in tears.

While Portugal basks in its sporting success, all is not well spiritually. Evangelicals make us less than one half of one percent of the Portuguese population. 

Highlights from a new report:

  • There are about 47,000 evangelical believers In Portugal, just 0.4% of the population. The average size of an evangelical church is 49 people.
  • On average each church baptises five people per year. New churches account for 40% of baptisms.
  • Between 2000—2016 the number of evangelical churches fell by 666 (1,630 to 964) despite the planting of 322 new churches.
  • Almost seven in ten evangelical Christians live in three cities: Lisbon (15,300 church members), Porto (6,400) and Setúbal (4,200).
  • Most churches do not have any involvement in cross-cultural missions.

It would be interesting to know what role Brazilians and other Portuguese-speaking immigrants, have in the volatility in the number of churches. I'd also like to know which existing churches are reaching new people and planting churches. There have to be exceptions to the trend.

Meanwhile, Portugal at 0.4% evangelical believers is more of a mission field that China.

128-From denomination to movement: Dave Ferguson talks to Daniel Norburg

Dave Ferguson talks to Daniel Norburg (EFK Sweden) about leading a denomination towards multiplying disciples and churches.

Thanks to Exponential Europe for making the interview available.

Here come the Africans!

The Africans are coming. No they’re already here.

There are six African church plants in our home city of Leicester, England from just one movement of Nigerians. A few weeks ago we began training them in how to reach the city. They want us back again next week.

Philip Jenkins is writing a new book on demographic trends and religious faith. Here are some highlights of he’s written so far on the impact of fertility and faith in Africa:

By 2100 Africans will make up 40% of the world’s population.

In 1900, there were three Europeans for every African. By 2050, there should be three Africans for every European. That figure, incidentally, is misleading in one way, as many of the “Europeans” in 2050 will in fact be of African descent. By some projections, the African share of global population by 2100 could be 40 percent.

By 2050, six of the world’s 20 most populous nations will be on the African continent — Ethiopia, Nigeria, Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, and Niger.

In 1950, the combined population of these nine nations was around 100 million, rising to almost 400 million by 2000. By 2050, they will have a combined population of 1.2 billion. That would represent a twelvefold increase in raw numbers in just a century.

Africa is now home to some of the world’s largest Christian and Muslim communities.

In 1900, Africa had substantial Muslim and Christian populations, with Muslims strongly in the majority. During the 20th century, both groups grew substantially, partly by demographic expansion, but also through evangelism and conversion. About half of black Africans joined one of the great monotheistic faiths, and they favored Christianity over Islam by a rate of 4-to-1.

 According to Jenkins, what happens in Africa is very unlikely to stay in Africa.

Italians — not as Catholic as they used to be

 Italy may be the spiritual home of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, but a new poll shows only 50 percent of Italians consider themselves Catholic

The poll, published in the liberal daily L’Unita, challenges long-held perceptions that Italy is a ”Catholic” country, despite the popularity of Pope Francis and the historic role of the Vatican City State in the heart of Rome.

In addition to the 50 percent who consider themselves Catholic, the poll found 13 percent defined themselves as “Christian.”

Of the 1,500 respondents, 4 percent said they were Orthodox or Protestant, 2 percent were Buddhist, 1 percent were Jewish and 1 percent were Muslim.

A surprising 20 percent said they were atheist, while 8 percent said they were religiously unaffiliated.

Italy has witnessed a weakening of religious faith over the past 20 years and a growing trend toward personal spiritual inquiry.

Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they did not feel part of a religious community. Of those, some said they believed in destiny, horoscopes, reincarnation, Tarot readings and miracle cures.