One question we’ve heard a few times is “Why Ireland? Isn’t it a Christian nation?”
While it’s true that the majority of people in the Republic of Ireland (78%) identify as Roman Catholic, what we found is that few people read the Bible or even own one. For many, Catholicism is more a part of their cultural identity than it is a way to find and experience a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
When it comes to faith, it is common to see people who are …
- living out of fear (God is out to get me.),
- believing in salvation by works (I can work my way to heaven if I’m just good enough.),
- feeling betrayed by the church (How can I trust a system rife with scandal and led by people who abuse their power?),
- or simply giving up (I’ve failed so many times, there’s no hope for me.).
Our prayer is that people in Ireland will come to know that God loves them, that Jesus died to save them, and that through Him anyone can have a real, personal, and eternal relationship with God.
If you’re looking for more specific data, read the information below gathered by Calvary Mission.
From up-to-date research conducted by Aontas we find that the percentage of evangelicals in the Republic of Ireland is the lowest in the English-speaking world. From the same research, we can report that there are 71 towns of a population greater that 5,000 with no evangelical witness whatsoever. Ireland is indeed a country in great need spiritually, a very definite mission field. The days of the all-dominant Catholic Church are a thing of the past. The news of the many scandals has greatly affected Irish society with many people open to hear the Gospel like never before. We are eager to make good use of this God-given opportunity. Presently we are experiencing a time of blessing with new people being added to the church and the number of warm contacts has significantly increased.
According to recent Barna research, there are an unbelievable 21,000,000 unchurched people in the Southern U.S. But there are also 7,000,000 evangelical Christians to do the work –a ratio of 3:1. In contrast, Ireland boasts a population of approximately 4,000,000 people, with only 30,000 evangelical Christians—a ratio of 133:1. This is the lowest ratio among English-speaking countries. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
There’s little spiritual community for church leaders in Ireland; they need encouragement, help, support, mentoring, etc. Believers are very much in the minority, and many areas of Ireland have yet to see a witness to the gospel in their area. The call comes again: “Come over… and help us…” (Acts 16:9)
Many evangelical churches today in Ireland consist of just 20 people, and most of these churches meet in homes. There’s a growing openness to the Gospel, particularly among the younger generations who aren’t steeped in empty religious tradition, so it’s an exciting time to come alongside Irish church planters.
For over 1,500 years, Europe was the center of Christianity. It was the original sending base of modern missions. But today, cathedrals stand empty and silent, except for tourists and the echoing click of a camera shutter. Some churches have been converted into luxury apartments or into mosques, since Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe.
Christianity today is as strange to Europeans as atheism was a generation ago. The traditional state churches became irrelevant to most people in the post-modern society that developed after WWII. Less than 1% of people in Ireland are Biblical Christians, and many doubt God exists. Post-modernism turned people in Europe against institutional religion, but intensified their hunger for relationships.
There is hope for Europe in this new era. There is evidence that God is working among gatherings that are small, but also strong and pure. The great cathedrals of Europe may no longer ring with throngs of the faithful, but the church can still be found, down the street at a local coffee shop. As one TEAM missionary has said, “Unless you get to know them, and spend time to get into their lives, and then when they finally open up and share the emptiness in their hearts, and they see that you’ve got something different, finally the doors start opening.”