Migrant Ministries: European Churches Revitalized by Asian Diaspora
Thanks to an influx of Christian immigrants from Burma, China, Korea, and the Philippines, once-empty church pews in Denmark ring with children's voices. Contemporary worship songs have replaced traditional hymns and organ music.
Most immigrants are young with many children, said Hans Lund, director of Church Integration Ministries. "They have a fresh expression of Christianity," he said. "They come from countries where the biggest problem is to find enough space for all the people, and they come to countries where the biggest problem is empty churches."
Those empty churches are filling again, not only with immigrants but also with local Christians who become interested in the new worship styles of migrant churches, Lund said.
Even as migrant churches spread across Europe and impact their host communities, experts agree that full integration will take many years. Christians from charismatic Pentecostal backgrounds typical of many in the global south find it challenging to fit in with Danish Lutheran congregations whose worship is reserved and precise. Because of such cultural differences, immigrants tend to stay with groups from their home country and are often isolated from the host culture.
"You can be in two different worlds in the same city," Lund said.
More than 105 million migrants—nearly half of the world's total—are Christians, according to a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Forty-two percent of immigrants to the European Union are Christian—the largest population of any religious group.
In Denmark, more than half of all churchgoers are immigrants, Lund said. One new church starts every month; today more than 200 migrant churches dot the small nation of 5 million.
Many migrants ...