One of the questions we’ve been asked frequently since arriving in Ireland is “What churches are doing well?” So it is one we’ve been exploring as well.

That question is subjective. As you know, I’m not Ed Stetzer. So this is anecdotal information we’ve gathered from conversations with pastors, and members of churches. Most of these conversations have occurred in Dublin, but a few with people from other areas across the island. 

That said, if you are from Ireland, and have a different perspective, please add it to the comments. I would love to learn more about what you know.

So here are a few of the things we’ve learned:

1) Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are not similar when it comes to churches.
Although they occupy the same land mass, their religious backgrounds are not the same. In the Republic, Catholicism has been the dominant religion for centuries. While that is changing there is still as suspicion toward churches that are not part of Mainline Denominations. In the North with it’s strong Presbyterian influence, contemporary Christian Churches do much better.

2) The larger churches in the Republic tend to be Pentecostal or Charismatic.
A couple of clarifiers. Larger here, is not large by American mega-church standards. (At the same time, the entire population of the Republic is less than half of New York City.) Larger churches would be in the 400 to 900 people range. And most of the larger churches, although not all, are located outside of Dublin.

3) Many of the fastest growing churches are migrant churches
There was an interesting article in the Irish Times recently discussing why this was happening. The article is about Nigerian churches, which are growing rapidly. However, Eastern Europeans are also starting more and more churches. These often seem to go under the radar of most people.

4) Almost every evangelical church in Dublin is on the Southside, or just north of the Liffey.
[Evangelical can be a bit of a loaded word in Ireland, but does seem to be used by many churches]
We’ve talked about this a lot because as you know, our hope is see new churches started on the Northside. Many contemporary churches that to end up north of the Liffey are either just across the river, or north of the city limits. Over the past few months, we’ve learned of some new church plants started, or about to start on the Northside…so that is exciting.

Those are four items that stood out to us…

For those of you in Ireland, does this match up with your perspective?
For those back in the States, did anything here surprise you?

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2 comments
  1. Sarah says:

    I was surprised to read about the locations of evangelical churches as there are 2 Baptist churches in Swords and one in Finglas. There are also Baptist churches in Skerries and Balbriggan. But I agree that the older suburbs (like Clontarf) have mostly traditional churches. It’s a very interesting subject.
    Northern Ireland definitely has more evangelical churches and they tend to be quite large (by Irish standards),

    1. bob says:

      Sarah, Thank you for your thoughts. I really haven’t explored the churched in North County Dublin all that much…although we did visit one of the churches in Swords. I does seem that, 3 years later, more is starting to happen on the city’s Northside!

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