UK’s Largest Pentecostal Church Aims to Plant 100 More Churches In 2017
The UK’s biggest and fastest growing Pentecostal church is embarking on an ambitious expansion programme in 2017, in part aimed at attracting white Britons to join its black majority congregations.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), which already has almost 800 places of worship in the UK, plans to open another 100 next year, according to one of its leading pastors.
“We might not hit 100 but if we hit half that it will still be significant,” Agu Irukwu told the Guardian. “We’re a bit more intentional now about planting churches in communities other than the traditional places you would expect to find us.”
He added: “Some people call what we’re doing ‘reverse mission’. I don’t use that term, but there’s a bit of truth in it. We’re working to bring the good news back to this country which in some ways has lost it.”
The RCCG, founded in Nigeria in 1952, is established in more than 100 countries. It has grown from a handful of church communities in the UK 25 years ago to 779 at the end of 2016, with a presence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England.
According to Peter Brierley, a former director of Christian Research and publisher of UK Church Statistics 2005-15, in the UK it now dwarfs longer-established Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God and Elim.
“The RCCG came to the UK in the context of ‘reverse mission’,” said Brierley. “They were concerned about the spiritual state of Britain. Britain had brought the gospel to them, but had lost its way and needed to be re-evangelised. It’s now in about 70% of UK towns.”
Irukwu, who grew up in Lagos, leads the biggest RCCG church, Jesus House in Brent Cross, north London, which regularly attracts more than 2,000 people to its Sunday services. He said: “We believe this nation paid a big price in bringing the gospel to far-flung parts of the world.” Many had given their lives to their cause and to establish missionary schools and hospitals.
“I see myself as fruit of the missionary effort and missionary sacrifice. People like me feel we owe these missionaries – and by extrapolation, their country – for a lot that has happened to us.”
He said he would not describe himself as a missionary, although others did. But, he added: “I feel a church has to be open, has to reach out to all the groups wherever that church is – exactly what the missionaries did. London, especially, is a multicultural melting pot, and if a church is in London it should aim to look like London.”
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SOURCE: The Guardian