In spite of being the religious minority that grows the most in Spain, according to the last report of the Observatory of Religious Pluralism; evangelicals do not have presence in 331 towns of more than 5,000 inhabitants.
That is shown in the latest update of the register of municipalities without evangelical churches, made by the Christian organization Decision, with contrasted data from the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (Ferede) and the mission organisation Evangelism In Depth (EVAF).
According to the data, more than 10 million people in Spain live in places that have not been reached by the gospel.
“The result shows that of the 8,131 villages in Spain, 92% have no evangelical church yet. The challenge of reaching the villages between 5,000 and 20,000 inhabitants, far from the capitals, still stands and continues to be one of the great shortcomings of the mission in Spain”, Decision said.
Andalusia appears as the region with the most towns with more than 5,000 inhabitants without evangelical churches, 53. It is followed by Galicia, with 45, Catalonia, with 41, and the Valencian Community, with 33. The only area with at least one evangelical church in all towns of more than 5,000 inhabitants is La Rioja.
Massive movements of people from rural to metropolitan areas in the last decades have affected this situation, deserting some areas and saturating others.
“Data has shown drastic changes in recent years. Rural Spain has been left empty, with a strong acceleration of internal migratory flows to large cities, so that regions like Madrid have seen how small towns of less than 5,000 inhabitants multiplied its population”, the authors of the report pointed out.
Therefore, “the region of Madrid has become one of the great regions in need of evangelical church planting”, they said.
This trend is confirmed by the National Institute of Statistics. For example, Soria is one of the least populated provinces in the country with 88,600 inhabitants, down from 94,646 in 2008. On the opposite side is the province of Madrid, with a population of 6,578,000 people, up from barely six million eleven years ago.
“These changes are drawing a new scenario for the missionary strategy that opens new opportunities for the planting of churches around these big cities”, Decision said.
MIGRATION, KEY TO THE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH IN SPAIN
Despite the data, the authors acknowledge the progressive growth that the evangelical community is experiencing in Spain.
In 2018, there were 4,238 registered places of worship throughout the country, closing the year with an average growth of 16 churches opened every month.
“An important part of the growth of the evangelical churches has been favored by the immigration, which represents in many congregations more than 68% of the members, as it is the case of Madrid”.
Decision says “it is a new force that is strengthening the development of the Spanish evangelical movement. However, the great challenge is to continue growing, especially among the native population that is still deeply rooted in the culture of the past and who live in the towns that appear in the new published directory”.
Through an interactive map, the entity calls to prayer for each of those 331 towns without evangelical churches, for the 17 others that only have one ethnic church, and for 93 more that do have a church in a distance of five kilometers of distance.
Graph showing the 331 towns of more than 5,000 inhabitants in Spain with no evangelical church. / Decision