Global Church Planting Network – A Preliminary Analysis of the Central and Eastern Europe

Majority Religious Affiliation - E &C Europe map

The Global Church Planting Network was published recently an analysis of church planting in Central & Eastern Europe (yu can find the preliminary report in downloadable PDF HERE).

Of course, this is a very evangelical entity, and the definitions they use are narrowly confined to this tradition. Nevertheless, the document is very interesting for those interested in the situation of evangelicalism in this part of Europe.

Yet, here is one aspect of this reality that has been manipulated in a very unethical manner. Here is what we read in the report in a note on p. 7:

For Romania this researcher estimates that the number of Evangelicals is half of what OW specifies. Another OC researcher in the region has a similar opinion regarding two other countries (Bulgaria and Macedonia). If this generalization carries to other countries, the situation in this region is much graver than described.

What is really happening here? OW stands for Operation World (OW), an evangelical entity that produces every few years a large compendium containing religious profiles of every country in the world, that are intended to guide prayer for that particular country. Previous issues of this publication were edited by Patrick Johnson, while the latest one (7th edition), published in 2012, is edited by Jason Mandrik.

I must confess that I was never very happy with the content of the profile of Romania, which reflected quite a strong anti-Romanian bias of clear nationalist Hungarian origin. Those who want to understand what I mean, could consult earlier versions of the book. It is because of this discontentment that I have decided to offer feedback to the new edition that was prepared for the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town. Which I have done, a number of times, mostly during 2009.

Thus, in a series of conversations with the editors, I have suggested a substantial number of changes, very few of which were actually takes in considerations.

The most contentious matter in Romania’s profile, a summary of which you can find HERE,is the overly inflated number of the evangelicals in Romania. As you can see at this link, the number of evangelicals in my country is estimated at  1,149,647, which would represent 5.4% of the population of Romania and an annual growth rate of 2.3%.

As explained in the OCI note above, these numbers are at least double, if not triple of the real number of evangelicals in Romania. I have pointed this out, as did OCI and others, to the editors of OW, to no avail. They have preferred to give precedence to their unreliable (undisclosed) sources.

Here are the figures OW offers for Evangelicals:

Evangelicals                        5.4         1,149,647           1.5%

Charismatics                      2.9            620,168           1.3%

Pentecostals                        2.1            438,527           1.2%

Those who know the reality in Romania are aware that ALL these figures are exaggerated,  but particularly that of  charismatics (in the list above, the figure for evangelicals is a total, including in it also Pentecostals and charidsmatics.

In fact, evangelicals  are not even half of that 5.4%. But the crux of the matter is the number of charismatics. I bet that even in the most optimistic estimations you will not be able to find 100,000 charismatics in Romania. Maybe 50-60,000 would be much closer to reality.

This is where the figures have been inflated and we can imagine now the origin of the (mis)informants of the editors of OW. A real shame.

The kingdom of God, and the honnour of our Lord, cannot be built with lies. I am committed to bring this issue to the attention of the leaders of the Lausanne movement at the June leaders’ meeting in Bangalore, India.





Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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