This past week, Pew Research dropped some new data on the Muslim population in Europe, and I thought it worth sharing.
You can find the research here: 5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe.
In short, while the Muslim population share in Europe is still relatively small (average 5%), projects show that it could more than double in the coming decades. That’s a big deal.
First off, let me calm some of you. Europe is not being rapidly converted to Islam. These population numbers are accounted for primarily by immigration. Over the last couple of years, Europe has been a major landing zone for people displaced by war and persecution in the Middle East, especially Syria. If you will remember, it wasn’t too long ago the news was reporting daily about the refugee crisis flooding Europe as people fled toward safety. While Europe has seen Muslim immigration for a long time now, the past couple of years have been a fever pitch.
However, immigration is not the only source of Muslim population growth. It is no secret that classic European groups have shrinking birthrates. The Muslim peoples moving in, on the other hand, have higher than average birth rates. In fact, according to the projections from Pew, even if immigration to Europe ceased at this point, the Muslim share of the population will go up drastically. Simply put, Muslim peoples groups are going to be around Europe for a while.
Again, let me calm some of you. My point in writing is not to pontificate about the downfall of Europe. This is not an article that wants to postulate on how the European Union is handling its immigration policies or whether or not it should be so compassionate to refugees (they’ve taken in millions now, by the way). Instead, my hope is to try and provide some perspective through a Great Commission lens. How should we Christians view these massive Muslim people movements to Europe, knowing that Christ has commissioned us to make disciples of all nations?
Simply put: Europe is a strategic place for international missions to Muslims.
It is no secret that Muslim countries are some of the hardest places to gain access for Christian missions. With millions of peoples from these very countries moving to Europe, fresh opportunities sit in front of the global church to gain access to them for the sake of the gospel. So many people who have never had a chance to hear the gospel are now living in countries in which an American passport gains quick entry.
A number of international missions agencies are already considering how they can leverage these migrations by sending personnel to these areas to work specifically with Muslim groups. Local churches here in the States should consider Europe as a potential destination for missionaries, if they trying to engage Muslims with the gospel. Furthermore, as missionaries land in Europe, new opportunities will develop for local churches stateside to partner with long-term field missionaries on the ground.
So, if you’re church is prayerfully considering work among Islamic peoples and wondering where to begin, take a look at Europe.