Growth in the Church in Turkey

The indigenous Protestant Evangelical church in Turkey is about 50 years old. Initially, the evangelical church was composed of persons who had come to faith in Christ from an Orthodox background. There was slow and steady growth throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with few Believers coming from a Muslim Background (BMBs). The church, as a whole, was mostly led by foreigners and believers who came from a traditional Christian background.

It was during the 1990s that  the first movement of a great number of BMBs occured and for the first time ever, the number of indigenous believers outnumbered the number of foreign Christian workers. The significant outcome of this move of God was that key national leaders began to get involved not only in leadership of their own churches, but active in the church planting efforts.

There are a number of key factors in the growth of the emerging Turkish church:

  • More BMB than BCB When data was first collected in the 1980s, the percentage of believers from a traditional Christian background were the majority, more than 70%. Today, the percentage of BMBs is over 70%.
  • More new believers than older, more mature believers More than 70% of believers have come to faith in the last 10 years.
  • More diverse than homogeneous Churches do not tend to be dominated by a certain kind of denomination or people group.
  • Led more by indigenous leaders than by foreigners Churches are predominantly led by indigenous leaders. More church plants are led primarily by indigenous leaders.
  • The church is still concentrated in the larger, western cities – 90-95% of the church still exists in Istanbul, Ankara and along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, meaning it is more urban than rural.
  • Response to the Gospel is greater now than at any time in the previous 50 years – This is seen not only in greater numbers of believers, but also in a rapid increase in the number of seekers making contact with Turkish Christians.
  • The church is more visible today than in the past There are Turkish believers in positions of prominence and the understanding that a Turkish person can become a Christian is much more widely known.
  • Persecution is more relational than political, with some new believers receiving extreme backlash from their families and close friends Even though the Turkish Constitution allows for religious freedom, there are still some organized threats against pastors and churches.
  • Media remains the most effective medium to penetrate Turkey with the gospel – With two Christian TV channels, two Christian radio stations, and numerous extremely engaging websites, the interest in Christianity has seen a dramatic increase. The Turkish TV live call-in host has 459,000 Facebook likes and the monthly total of emails and Facebook messages are between 5,500 – 6,200.
  • Common factors in growing indigenous churches include:
    • Stability
    • Strong Indigenous leadership
    • Evangelistic and outreach-oriented
    • Safe, neutral place for gathering
    • Ample time in community
The message will be closed after 20 s