Bringing the passion of the Holy Spirit to the church in Europe

  • In NEWS
  • September 15, 2022
Bringing the passion of the Holy Spirit to the church in Europe

Interview with Pastor Dele Olowu of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in mainland Europe



RCCG is a relatively new denomination in Europe, but is one of the fastest growing churches on the continent. Can you give us some current numbers,

facts and figures about the RCCG presence in Europe?


In Europe, our church started in the United Kingdom in 1988/1989, and spread widely to other parts of the continent. RCCG came out of Africa, from Nigeria, and most of the original church planters were associated with the headquarters mission from that country. The first church planters were English speaking, so it was easier for them to settle down in English speaking nations. I came to the Netherlands in 1998, ten years after the first churches were started in the United Kingdom.


Today, there are three blocks of the RCCG in Europe: The first block is the United Kingdom; the second block is the European mainland; and the third block is the Republic of Ireland. We have close to a thousand parishes in the United Kingdom (865) and in the Republic of Ireland (95) combined. On the European mainland, where we started much later, we have 311 parishes and currently about 13,000 to 14,000 church members. Each parish has at least one pastor. In some cases, there are assistant pastors, too.



What are the principles by which RCCG plants churches in Europe and how do these principles differ from majority population churches? What new aspects does the RCCG bring to the European church landscape?


The most important single principle is the power of the Holy Spirit. It seems to me – at least, that is the impression one gets – that the conventional church in Europe is very passionless, if I may use this word. Everything is rationalised. As RCCG, we bring the passion of the Holy Spirit. That is the DNA of our church. We do a lot of praying, a lot of singing and dancing. And people like that. For many people, coming to church is an excitement. It’s entertainment also, if you like. It is an opportunity to rejoice in the Lord’s presence, in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Related to this first point is what we call “church planting”. We do not believe in only having one parish in a city. In the city where our headquarter church is located in the Netherlands, in Den Haag, we have five or six parishes of the church. The idea is to multiply and to get the church as close to the neighbourhoods as possible. The more churches we have in a city, the better, rather than having only one parish for the whole city.


Another principle is that we have always succeeded in engaging the younger generation. I became a pastor when I was less than 30 years old, and that’s the general pattern. There is this focus on young people that I think has helped the church to connect. Our current General Overseer was appointed to that office at the age of 39 years.


Finally, of course, we do evangelism. We go out on the streets, we use social media and we are committed to bible education. There is a Sunday school in every parish every Sunday morning for about one hour in which people are studying the Bible and asking questions. I think all of this has led to a revival of interest in God because we are not just bringing emotionalism, we are also connecting it to the word of God. What God is saying is the basis for the several testimonies of His doings in our midst.




Do RCCG churches reach predominantly believing migrants or also the believing majority population in Europe?

People of African descent are in the majority. I am using that word in a very broad sense because we have a lot of people of African descent from all over the world in the church: people from Suriname, people from Latin America and people from other continents. They will be like 70% of the church. But we also have people from the European nations who are really part of us and who are in some instances even pastors of our churches today. Mostly, these are people who either have married to Africans or people who have been to Africa a lot or who have lived in Africa. But we also have people who feel that they needed a touch of the Holy Spirit in their lives and they came to our church.




In which way do RCCG churches cooperate with majority population churches in building the Kingdom of God locally in different European countries? Can you name some of the successes and joys, but also some of the challenges and lessons learnt?


In our church, our General overseer, who is based in Africa, comes to visit us for what we call a “convention” every two years. A convention is a time of revival, songs and open engagement. This is one of the major areas where we partner because we want everyone to be involved. During our latest convention in April 2022 several European churches with European leaders, mostly evangelical and Pentecostal (protestant) churches, collaborated with us. They were part of the praying and the preparations. And they brought their members. For instance, in Amsterdam, Rivers Church is a big church that partnered with us besides churches from other cities in the Netherlands and even churches from Germany.


There is also a network of churches in Slovakia and Czech Republic. They came together and they invited the General Overseer to a Sunday outreach program at the end of our Convention in Amsterdam. These were all churches by people of Eastern European countries. The event was held in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, and there were healings and deliverances. The wife of the most senior coordinator was sick of cancer and her stage four cancer was healed with all traces of cancer totally gone. These are the things that are really powering relationships because people see that it is not just talk. For us the cooperation with Eastern Europe and the event was a divine open door and we are still working together.




How would you characterize the spiritual state of Europe as a continent?


This is one of the greatest paradoxes of life, actually. For me, growing up in Africa, all that we knew of Christ and the church, came from Europeans. Europeans sacrificed their lives, they spent money and they did everything that was humanly possible to bring the gospel to every nation in Africa. There was no sacrifice that they did not make. Coming to Europe now, however, I find most Europeans are telling me: ‘What’s wrong with you? How can you believe in God? He doesn’t exist!’


I was trained as a social scientist and I did not come to Europe as a pastor at first. I came to teach at an institute of social studies. And I realized that one of the fundamentals of social science today in Europe is: ‘God is dead’. It means: You do not appeal to God in any academic or professional discourse. It’s a weakness for a scientist or any academic person to talk of God in the context of any serious discussion in these disciplines. For me, this continues to be one of the greatest contradictions.


In my view, the only way to explain it is that this recession from Christ is the plan of the devil. But it is also part of what God said, that before the last days, before Christ will come, people would depart from the faith in large numbers. In a sense it is connected to the origins of our mission: The God of heaven promised that before Christ comes, we will be in all these nations. But the reason we are there is that there will have been a denial of faith in many nations. The church of Christ is supposed to testify to the truthfulness and faithfulness of God. So the motto of our mission is: ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8). God has not changed. There might be changes in our lives and societies, but God remains constant. I think the major challenge of Europe has been a serious falling away from faith as a result of secularism.




What are currently the biggest hurdles for the proclamation of the Gospel and the building of the Kingdom of God in Europe? What challenges does the RCCG itself also face? And what can people who read the EEA newsletter pray for?


You find a lot of disunity amongst the churches. And this disunity is very frightening for me because it is not just about administrative divisions or institutional divisions. It’s about the doctrines of faith. It’s about serious doctrinal differences. There are churches that don’t believe in prayer or fasting. There are churches that are supporting the transgender agenda and abortion rights. They don’t see anything wrong with these assertive and militant beliefs in such things. In fact, yes, it’s good for us to be compassionate. But do not say that the church must not even talk about this at all. The right to say anything about it is a tough one.


In my view, Europe is in a very serious crisis of faith. We have already touched the topic of disunity amongst the churches. But the greatest problem still is the fact that the church is very quiet. We are subdued, we are not able to articulate our positions on almost anything. The political terrain in Europe is one that is occupied by an anti-Christian agenda. Even though the majority of the people are still Christians, though maybe nominal Christians, the political agenda across the social and political space is totally anti-Christian.


One of the biggest challenges we face as a church is cultural integration. Like I said, a lot of members are migrants. They need to understand and to engage society and the culture they are in. There is a lack of understanding of even the language and that is part of the reason why several of our members want to move on to English speaking countries. We are therefore trying to ensure that we help some of these people to learn the local language.


Secondly, there are immigration challenges. For instance, there is a lady in our church in the UK who has done some wonderful work in the last 20 years among young and old people. But she does not have the papers to live in the country. How can we as a church make a case for her to communicate just how much this person is adding value to the local society?


The final point is connectivity. The fact that there are superficial differences between people according to race, nativity and economic classes, that at times do not allow the church to work together in the various nations. We trust that God is breaking those barriers down through Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit.




What is your vision for the Kingdom of God in Europe? What gives you hope?


Number one is the youth coming to Christ because they are questioning everything. They are questioning even deep wisdom of the ages about secularism and rationality having an answer to everything and discovering that actually there are some other answers. Some of them are going into Eastern religions. Indeed, there is a new spirituality out there, a new move towards spirituality. But the good news is that we have a Christian gospel that includes the power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So, we see a charismatic renewal even in the established European churches all over the continent.


Number two is collaboration. We are having agents such as the European Evangelical Alliance that are able to bring together Christians to find a common platform for engagement. I belong to some of these platforms, too. For instance, there is a group called Apostolic Fellowship International (AFI) headquartered in Italy. They have annual meetings to discuss what is happening in the church and how the church can become more effective.


The third and last area of hope is the fact that we have an international movement towards helping Europe from the developing nations of the world. We have what we call ‘reverse missions’ coming to Europe because the God we serve is a God of justice. He is a God of justice in the same sense that Europeans took the gospel to the rest of the world. One pastor told me recently: ‘Europe is like Samson when he became blind. He needed a young boy to take him to the pillar because the pillars had to be brought down. The young boy could not pull the pillar down.’ So maybe missionaries coming from outside of Europe are like that young boy.




The interview was conducted by Matthias Boehning from the EEA Office in Bonn/Germany via Zoom in early September 2022.




Box: Pastor Dele Olowu


Pastor Dele Olowu is presently the Special Assistant to the General Overseer, Europe Mainland Affairs. He has taught and researched on public policy issues – the areas in which he has a doctorate – in several countries in Africa, Canada, America and Europe. He advises several governments and international organizations on development and policy improvement matters. He has pastored churches in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia and the Netherlands. He lives in Dordrecht with his wife. They together have three children and two grandchildren. As part of his portfolio, he directly oversees the countries in Region 1 in Europe mainland mission of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

Latest Posts

Receive the EEA newsletter!