Harnessing the Power of Europe’s Migrant Churches

A seminary professor from Sierra Leone shares how African arrivals are changing the church in Belgium and the rest of the continent.

Joseph Bosco Bangura is out to reshape how we think about migrant churches.

For more than 25 years, he has been exploring how new Christian movements open up opportunities to engage with and transform societies. Bangura’s research on the growing Pentecostal movement in his home country of Sierra Leone revealed both its popular appeal and the creative ways charismatic and Pentecostal churches have accommodated indigenous African religious traditions.

Now he’s turning his focus to the impact of migrant churches in Europe. Bangura, who teaches missiology at the Evangelical Theological Faculty (ETF) in Belgium and Protestant Theological University (PThU) in the Netherlands and also pastors a migrant church, spoke with CT about the opportunities and challenges facing migrant congregations in secularized European societies.

What motivated you to study migrant churches in Europe?

There is always a connection between people’s mobility and the spread of their faith. Any time the Jews migrated—in fact, it is from them that we have the term diaspora—something happened to their faith. The same was true in the early church. They didn’t go immediately; persecution brought about their dispersal. Migration inevitably coincides with the spread of the gospel. It widens the possibility of bringing new aspects of the faith to places where they were not initially known.

In Western Europe today, there is a greater awareness among indigenous [i.e., white European] churches of the missionary implications of migrant communities. What can they do for the configuration of the church in a secular Europe? They might be the lifeline for the survival of the faith in a secularized world.

Mission organizations are taking the …

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