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Spreading the good news

ON A MISSION: Pastor Agu Irukwu is spearheading the RCCG’s
move to encourage a more multi-cultural congregation

BRITAIN’S FASTEST-growing Pentecostal denomination, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), made news headlines recently after they announced plans to reach Britain’s indigenous population with the gospel.

RCCG, a church founded in Nigeria in 1952 currently has 779 congregations sited throughout the UK.

Pastor Agu Irukwu, head of RCCG UK and senior pastor of the denomination’s largest congregation, Jesus House in Brent Cross, north London is spearheading this new move.

Some see RCCG’s announcement as reverse missiology. Whereas in the 18th and 19th centuries Europeans brought the gospel to Africa, people from colonised nations are now seeking to bring the gospel to Europe. Speaking in The Guardian newspaper, Reverend Agu said:

“We believe this nation paid a big price in bringing the gospel to far-flung parts of the world. Many had given their lives to their cause and to establish missionary schools and hospitals.

“I see myself as fruit of the missionary effort and missionary sacrifice. People like me feel we owe these missionaries – and by extrapolation, their country – for a lot that has happened to us.”

Some might feel RCCG has set a tall order for itself, because few black Pentecostal church leaders in the UK have managed to create a truly multi-cultural congregation.

Multi-cultural

During the 1990s and 2000s, in their keenness to build multi-racial congregations, some African and African-Caribbean church leaders refused to describe their churches as black. Instead, they gave their churches user-friendly names and reached out to people of all nationalities. Few succeeded in achieving their aim, mainly because of the racism that existed. It was apparent that white people weren’t that keen to join black Pentecostal churches. The world, and the church, has changed since then. Whilst racism still exists, the rising number of black people in prominent positions, the presence of high-profile black cultural icons, and the growth of interracial marriage means that there has been a greater acceptance of black leadership and presence in British society.

Furthermore, black and white churches have greater ties with each other with RCCG UK having fostered good relationships with the Anglican church.

RCCG’s action plan to reach the wider population will include launching an online prayer group, through which they hope will attract up to 500 people and they will aim to appeal to millennials through informality, music, and creating life groups around thematic issues such as male identity.

They will most probably have to do other things, like have shorter, quieter services featuring sermons that are brief and to the point.

Only time will tell if RCCG will succeed in its plans, but no one can blame them for trying. The universal nature of the gospel message demands that they do.

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