Nigeria, home to the largest Pentecostal movements in the world, is also increasingly at the forefront of broad changes that are impacting Christianity in both the global South and the West, writes Allan Effa in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (October).
Nigerian Christians are reshaping global Christianity through their growing voice in mainline churches, involvement in worldwide missions, particularly to Muslim nations, and the development of Nigerian-led church planting movements in Europe and North America. Nigeria is exerting its influence in world Anglicanism, with more Anglicans worshiping in Nigeria than in all western churches combined. As Nigerians have immigrated to Britain their influence is being felt in the Church of England; the influx of such immigrants is the primary reason behind the recent rebound in British church attendance. The dispersal of Nigerian priests throughout much of the Catholic Church, including Ireland and the U.S. is also extending their influence in the West, according to Effa.
But it is the missionary and church-planting movements where the Nigerian factor shows its greatest strength. Nigerian mission agencies deploy 5,200 missionaries in 56 countries. In 2005, the Nigerian Evangelical Missions Association pledged to mobilize 50,000 missionaries to North African Muslim countries, and already church-planting teams have been deployed in 14 of the 31 nations envisioned in this mission plan. Nigerian “reverse missions” to the West are conducted through two approaches: creating branches of Nigerian denominations abroad, such as the Redeemed Christian Church of God (now with 600 churches in the U.S and Canada), and starting independent congregations, mostly in Europe.
The latter have become the largest congregations in Europe, including London’s Kingsway International Christian Centre and the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations in Kiev, Ukraine. These independent megachurches in turn start their own branches; the Kiev church claims it now has 700 branch churches in 35 nations.
(International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 490 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511)