Why Spain is in Desperate Need of the Gospel - Radical

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Why Spain is in Desperate Need of the Gospel

Church tradition teaches us that the gospel has been in Spain since the days of Paul. Whether it’s true or not, we don’t know. But we do know Paul had a desire to bring the gospel to Hispania, the region of the Roman Empire which is present-day Spain (Romans 15:24–28).

Since then, Christian communities have existed in Spain from the early Christian communities that were persecuted by the Roman Empire during the first three centuries and the Spanish reformers persecuted by the Inquisition in the 16th century. More recently, several waves of missionary workers from different Christian traditions and denominations have helped spread the gospel and plant churches in my country.

How is it possible that a country with two thousand years of Christian influence still needs the gospel today?

Some of the most influential have been the British missionaries from the Church of the Brethren, the American missionaries from the Assemblies of God, and the Southern Baptists. For the past two millennia, Spain has had a Christian influence. Yet we still have a great need for the gospel.

How is it possible that a country with two thousand years of Christian influence still needs the gospel today? This is a complex question, but here are at least three explanations: our cities becoming more secular, many of our towns are unreached by the gospel, and the nations are coming to Spain.

Spanish Cities Are Becoming More Secular

Since the end of Francisco Franco’s regime in the 70’s, Roman Catholicism has been losing power and influence in the families, education system, and government. Most Spaniards associate the Bible with Roman Catholicism and a dictatorial regime that imposed religion and morality.

According to the official sociological research center of Spain, the percentage of people in Spain that identify as non-religious has risen from 9% in 2000 to 22% in 2021.1 More detailed research reveals that almost 64% of 18-24 year olds claim to be agnostic or atheist.2

The religion of rites and tradition has been replaced with the religion of secularism and humanism. This is especially true in urban centers like Madrid and Barcelona, where global trends towards progressive ideology are more evident. These cities need gospel-centered churches that will boldly proclaim the good news and bring fresh light into the darkness of secularism.

Towns are Unreached by the Gospel

If you want to travel back two decades, visit a town in the interior of Spain. It reminds me of the Spain I grew up in the 80s and 90s. These towns are predominantly Roman Catholic with very little foreign influence and no religious plurality; everyone “is” Roman Catholic. The rhythms of life are still “old school.” Shops close at midday for siesta and people spend the evenings in the street and plazas chatting about life. There are over 8,000 towns like this in Spain.

According to an evangelical survey, 92% of those towns do not have an evangelical church.3 The only church they know is the large catholic cathedral in the town plaza. We need church planters who will plant healthy churches, where the gospel of the cross will be in full display; who are willing to be patient and invest the rest of their lives there.

It will take time to see gospel fruit in towns of Spain where the gospel has not been clearly proclaimed in centuries.

It will take time to see gospel fruit in towns of Spain where the gospel has not been clearly proclaimed in centuries, but they too need the gospel. 

The Nations Are Coming to Spain

Over the past four decades, urban areas of Spain have become melting pots. I’ve walked around historic neighborhoods of Madrid like Lavapies where I was the minority surrounded by people from Morocco, Senegal, and Pakistan. The nations are coming to Spain. In 1990, 2.11% of the population of Spain was foreign. In 2022, the percentage of foreigners had risen to 14.44%.4

Evangelical churches have benefited from this immigration influx. According to official government statistics, for the first time in history, evangelical Christian’s make up almost 2% of the population thanks to the amount of evangelicals moving to Spain from Latin America.5

This immigration phenomenon has also brought Muslims to Spain, producing a tenfold increase of the Muslim population.6 The majority of the Muslims in Spain come from Morocco and have not heard the gospel. The churches in Spain that are actively and intentionally reaching Muslims are few. North Africa is our most natural mission field. The Iberian Peninsula and North Africa are separated by the 14 kilometer-long Strait of Gibraltar. Because of Spain’s immigration influx and vicinity to North Africa, Spain is a strategic missions hub where the gospel can be preached to people from unreached nations who could be trained and sent out to proclaim the gospel to their people in Spain and around the globe. 

For these reasons, Spain is in great need of the gospel, not just for the sake of Spain, but for the sake of the many unreached people groups that are living and immigrating into Spain. Yes, we still need the gospel in Spain: and we have an incredible opportunity to take it to our neighboring nations.

1. Instituto Nacional de Estadística  

2. Laicidad en cifras 2023: cuatro de cada diez españoles se declara no creyente  

3. Una Oración por España  

4. La inmigración en España crece en 950.994 personas  

5. ¿Cuántos evangélicos hay en España?  

6. La población musulmana en España se multiplicó 10 veces en los últimos 30 años  

Alberto Puente Navarro

Alberto is a Pastor at Iglesia Bautista Fe in Sevilla, Spain. He is from Torrejón de Ardoz in Madrid, Spain. He is married to Ashley and they have four children.


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