The evangelical Church in Europe is on the precipice. Christianity is thriving in Asia and Africa ”“ with new churches popping up all the time ”“ but in Europe it’s decline and more decline. Evangelicals make up just 2.5 per cent of our continent’s population. Projections suggest that UK Christianity will be wiped out by 2067. Has the Church, the hope of the world ”“ and of Europe ”“ lost its own hope?
While the media paints an ugly picture, there’s another story waiting to be told. It’s bubbling out of churches helping Syrian refugees along the Greek coast. It’s in the hands of Moldova’s Baptist community. It’s on the lips of the French woman whose life has been transformed by Jesus’ love. Perhaps we’ve been thinking about the Church in Europe all wrong ”“ we’ve been seeing numbers instead of people, we’ve been looking in empty churches rather than at the open hearts on our streets. When we focus on the tomb, we miss the resurrection. There is hope ”“ the Church in Europe is alive.
Yes, it’s numerically smaller than it was a generation ago, and we should do something about that. But, equally, the social pressure to go to church in many European countries has gone ”“ so, arguably, the people left in our churches actually believe that Jesus is the saviour of the world. This is what Teun van der Leer, Rector of the Dutch Baptist Seminary, is seeing in the Netherlands. He suggests the fact that some of us still go to church even though we don’t have to has left those outside curious about the Christian faith.