Guest / Limited Access /

Less than 20 years ago, more than eight of ten people in Ireland attended Catholic Mass at least weekly. Today, fewer than half do. The erosion of Ireland's traditional Catholic identity may be largely due to secularization, but it's an opportunity for evangelicals, whom the Irish have historically shunned as foreign.

In fact, much of evangelicalism's growth in the country is foreign—but not British. Ireland's steadily growing economy has attracted immigrants from China and Nigeria, and now about one-third of Ireland's evangelicals are immigrants. Churches have adapted with PowerPoint slides that translate Bible verses into multiple languages.

Research published in 2006 by the Evangelical Alliance Ireland (EAI) shows that the number of evangelicals tripled from 10,000 in 1980 to 30,000 in 2006. However, evangelicals still make up less than 1 percent of Ireland's population. More than 60 percent of evangelical churches have started in the last 25 years; 40 percent in the last 10. Nearly half claim no denomination.

The Irish Bible Institute (IBI) has also played a key role in the church growth. Remarkably, IBI is "the first major evangelical Bible college since the Puritans lost control of Trinity College, Dublin, in the 1630s," said former Trinity fellow Crawford Gribben.

"A number of former and current IBI students, teachers, and adjunct faculty are engaged in church planting across different denominations," said Patrick Mitchel, IBI director of studies. "In the 'pioneer days' of the 1970s and 1980s, church planters tended to be mostly missionaries from the United States or Northern Ireland."

For centuries, evangelicals failed to penetrate Ireland. Evangelistic efforts in the 1800s were thwarted by a pervasive Catholic influence. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedThe Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
Subscriber Access Only The Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
Michael Horton's message to restless believers: Stay put, and build the church.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickYou Need a More Ordinary Jesus
You Need a More Ordinary Jesus
We are united with a Christ who seems not to have done much of note for most of his life.
Comments
Christianity Today
Ireland's Evangelical Moment
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.