Galway City is the third largest city in Ireland behind Dublin and Cork, and is the largest city in the province of Connacht. It is important strategically because of its location in Connacht, the least reached province in Ireland. It is known as Ireland's cultural heart and is renowned for its vibrant lifestyle and numerous festivals, celebrations, and events. The National University of Ireland and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology both call Galway home and together have over 25,000 students, which provides the unique opportunity to share the Gospel with so many young Irish students. We believe all of this makes Galway a prime place to plant a church.
“Companies in Galway have a very low attrition rate – people want to come to Galway and they want to stay in Galway. People come here for college, young professionals and they tend to stay here right through the life cycle." - Mark Gantly of Hewlett Packard (taken from the Connacht Tribune)
I believe Mr. Gantly really summed up one of the main reasons we are moving to Galway. The sheer mass of college students all in a stage of life change. Not only are they there for college but many of them will find jobs, settle down, and start a family in Galway. It seems like a great city in which to start a church.
In the beginning of May Alisa and I will be taking a trip out to Galway in order to begin searching for a place to live. We will then be moving at the end of May to begin the process of planting a church. This has not been a random decision but one we have thought about, prayed about, and researched. We recently had a team of students from Central Christian College of the Bible over to help us do demographic studies. We divided up the team into pairs and had them walk around a designated area of interest in the city. We asked them to write down what the area looked like as well as anything of interest (restaurants, pubs, shops, parks, etc.). We had them plot these things on a map and write them in a notebook. We also had them interview people in their area about the needs in the community, what they thought of church, and what they thought the church could do differently. This research has been very helpful as we look at where we will plant the church.
Once we arrive we will be taking a little bit of time to find our feet in the city (and have a baby!) but hope to be able to soon start Bible studies that will be the foundation of a church plant. One of the things we learned from our survey was that there is a lack of things for youth to do in the city. We believe an outreach much like what we do in Drogheda could be successful so we desire to start a children's club and youth club. It is important that we wait to launch the church until we feel we have a good core group of people. You only get to launch once and so we want to make sure we do it right. We hope and pray this will be able to happen within our first year in Galway.
Not only are there great opportunities in Galway, but also there is an incredible need. We want to address this need. Our desire is to see churches planted in Galway that will train and send out workers into the city and the rest of Ireland while simultaneously pioneering the way church is done in Ireland. This will be the topic of the 3rd post in this series.