The Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Global Mission Secretary Uel Marrs has said the Presbyterian Church is facing a huge challenge to bring Christianity to Europe.
He said Presbyterians were going down a route they had previously little involvement with – that of ‘planting churches’ in new areas to grow its faith.
Mr Marrs said: “Europe is – from a Christian perspective – one of the spiritually darkest continents in the world.
“The established structures of the church as we’ve known it for a long time are crumbling in the climate of secularism, individualism and materialism.
“We here in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) are part of that Europe – we are not divorcing ourselves from it.
“We have felt a growing burden for the re-evangelisation of post-Christendom Europe. We don’t pretend that will be an easy task.”
The Belfast man, who served the church in Kenya for nine years, said: “Traditionally in Irish Presbyterianism we went after our own folk, but in terms of crossing cultural and other boundaries we haven’t really been effective in church planting. We’re now exploring that afresh.”
He said the Presbyterian Church had been partnering with churches around Europe including congregations in Portugal, Italy, and Spain and putting an increased focus on the qualities needed to become a church planter.
He commented: “In some parts of Europe to plant a reformed or evangelical congregation will be viewed as something very unusual – almost like a cult.
“Unless we make a breakthrough of understanding what we’re about, it will be very difficult. Church planting in the European context in some parts is a bit like trying to plough very hard ground with a spoon.”
He was speaking to the News Letter at Assembly Buildings on Tuesday, during the annual PCI general assembly.