Almost 8,000 municipalities do not have an evangelical presence yet, says church planter Máximo Álvarez in an interview.
In the last decade, the number of evangelical places of worship has kept growing throughout Spain.
According to official government figures, which through the Observatory of Religious Pluralism studies the establishment of religious minorities across the country, there are 4,348 evangelical places of worship in Spain.
Máximo Álvarez, director of Evangelismo a Fondo (EVAF, Evangelism in Depth), confirms this figure.
For several years, EVAFD has carried out a statistical work especially focused on presenting the relevant places of Spain where there is no stable evangelical presence.
Through the maps and the data they offer, national and foreign missions, as well as native churches, can understand the context of each province better and plan their missionary initiatives accordingly.
“Of the 8,130 municipalities in Spain, we have only reached 940. That's a spotlight shining brightly in front of us. So what do we do with it? There is much to be reached”, Álvarez told Spanish news website Protestante Digital in an interview.
Álvarez encourages local churches to get one of EVAF's maps and use them to pray for the places they are close to, so that it can be “an encouragement” to plan their missionary action.
“We have to plan how to develop church planting, to go and make disciples. That is what moves us. That is why we have published the national map and the regional maps”.
The missiologist stresses that “this is not only for us, but also for foreign missions. In each province you can see the places where there is no church. This can motivate people to come, to get to know the area, to talk to nearby churches”.
Over the last decade, the evangelical growth continues, although EVAF's statistics show that the evangelical population does not yet reach 1% at the national level.
“We have estimated that the average number of members in evangelical churches is almost one hundred”, says the director of EVAF. That figure leads to an approximate number of 420,000 evangelicals in Spain.
“The crises of 2008 and 2012 affected much”, adds Álvarez. He refers mainly to the fact that many of the evangelicals who had come to Spain from Latin America in the early years of the new century returned to their countries because of the economic difficulties.
Growth in this decade, therefore, has been on an upward trend, but without the intensity of the first years of the century.
But Máximo Álvarez is very optimistic because “there are evangelical denominations with mostly Spanish leadership, such as the Spanish Baptist Union (UEBE), which is showing an enthusiastic spirit to reach new places”.
Furthermore, “church planting ministries like La Plaza (The Square), M4, Multiplication Network, Disciple Makers are helping to make us understand that the whole church has a mission to make disciples”.
“There are mission organisations from Norway, the Netherlands, United States, Germany and France that see Spain as a place where they can do mission. They look at the maps and understand that there is a need. It is difficult ground, but more and more people want to come. It is necessary”.
Another factor Álvarez highlights is the interdenominational movement in Spain and the importance of involving young people “from fifteen years old and upwards”.
The director of EVAF believes that “the evangelisation proposals must be taken to youth meetings, to show them that there is a great mission in which they are called to participate”.
“We see that the evangelical church in Spain is changing its face. It is becoming more and more interdenominational, and more and more intercultural. There are thousands of young foreigners in Spain that we also have to reach”, he adds.
Alvarez also underlines that “we need to give more space to women in the planting teams. We would be making a mistake if we don't think about it”.
“We have many people in the churches listening, every Sunday, and they are not active. We have to change this: in the next five years many planters and assistant planters need to arise”, and that involves a need for training, something that is already being addressed by several churches and ministries in Spain.