Unavoidably, when explaining the big umbrella of contemporary "Christianity" in Spain, one begins with the Roman Catholic Church, the version of Christian faith that has marked Spain's history and identity. A recently published study of the Roman Catholic Church confirmed with statistics the steady decline of the Church, quipping "Spain, not so Catholic as it used to be." The study reveals a grave crisis, manifested in a dramatic decline both in attendance at mass and in the number of seminarians preparing for the priesthood.
A recent (2007) Government survey showed that while 74% of Spain's 45.1 million inhabitants still consider themselves Roman Catholics, only 14% of those practice their faith with any fervor or regularity. Today most Spaniards are indifferent Catholics by tradition. The festivals and religious history in Spain make for great tourism, but not much else.
In the introduction to his book "Like a Flickering Flame: a History of Protestant Missions in Spain", Dr. Dale Vought gives the following description of evangelical Christianity in the country:
This is the history of a church that has been like a flame in the wind. A small, faltering, flickering light that seems always in danger of being extinguished but somehow manages to burn on, bringing light to the surrounding darkness.
Spiritual darkness still persists in an increasingly secular Spain. In the midst of this darkness, the biggest challenge to the spread of Biblical Christianity is spiritual indifference, a cold apathy manifested by a lack of interest in spiritual truth. Plainly stated, it is not that easy to see people come to saving faith in Christ.
The spiritual vacuum in the country is being filled by secularism, materialism, drugs and all the related ills of modern Western culture. Nonetheless, that small flickering flame of the Gospel burns on and refuses to be extinguished. In fact, it is larger than ever before! God is still at work building His Church.
Undoubtedly, the single most influential phenomenon impacting the state of the Church in Spain today is immigration. Beginning around 1990 there has been a massive influx of immigrants, largely from Africa and South America. Some five million people have been added to Spain's population during this time. Many of these, especially the Latin Americans, have proven to be more responsive to the Gospel. This has resulted in significant evangelical church growth in all the major urban areas of the country. Nonetheless, the total number of evangelical believers in Spain is still less than 1% of the population!
Much work remains to be done in the spiritually hard and stony soil of Spain. The prayers and support of God's people are still desperately needed to see a spiritual breakthrough. Those of us who serve in Spain long for the day when genuine revival fires spread across this needy land and displace the spiritual darkness with the marvelous light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your focused intercession can help that flame to spread and that dream become a reality.