Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.
Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, in the northeast of the island. In 2016, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain. 4,757,976 million live in the Republic of Ireland and 1,851,600 million live in Northern Ireland.
According to the Joshua project there are 1.33% evangelical Christians in the Republic of Ireland. However, when you analyse the figures more closely you will find that many of these evangelicals are amongst the 12% of the population who are immigrants that came to Ireland in the last 20 years and that the percentage of evangelicals amongst the indigenous Irish is under 1%. This reflects the figure of 0.6% which Aontas (formerly known as the Association of Irish Evangelical Churches) uses.
Biblical Christians make up less than 1% of the population
Calvary Mission, a network of Christians working together to establish Bible-centred churches in Ireland, state that the Republic of Ireland is the least churched English speaking country in the world. Research they have carried out indicates that Biblical Christians make up less than 1% of the population and that there are 50 towns with no evangelical church.
Why Ireland? Because in many ways the Irish of the Republic of Ireland is an unreached and unengaged people group.
As elsewhere in the West, materialism and hedonism grip the hearts and souls of many
According to Operation World church attendance in Northern Ireland is in decline, even though it remains higher in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK. The frequency of attendance is dropping, even as the number rises of those who claim to be non-religious. As elsewhere in the West, materialism and hedonism grip the hearts and souls of many.
However, within a 50km radius of Belfast is one of the highest concentrations of evangelical churches in the world. While this may be true it is only part of the story. The following are extracts from the Irish Times that give an insight into N Ireland society: “The rapid increase in the Catholic population and the decline of the Protestant majority has been well catalogued. What is less well known outside the North, however, is the extent to which the two communities still live apart after 20 years of the peace process, and how tension between British and Irish identities remains unresolved. …..When we look at Northern Ireland as a whole we see a political geography that is just as divided and demarcated. The incoherent and jumbled mix of areas left over from the Ulster Plantation of the early 17th century has left two communities – then known as the planters and the Gaels, now as Protestants and Catholics – frozen in separate but parallel lives.”
the Irish of Ireland could be described as an unreached People Group
Around 45% of N Ireland’s population have an Irish identity. The percentage of evangelical Christians in this section of the population reflects that of the percentage of evangelical Christians amongst the Irish of the Republic of Ireland. Therefore there is less than 1% of the 5 million Irish in Ireland who are evangelical Christians.
Why Ireland? Because the Irish of Ireland could be described as an unreached People Group and therefore need to be reached with the glorious message of the gospel.