Put up-Christian. Secular. A prodigal continent. These are among the phrases usually used to explain Christianity in Europe.
“Renewed religious starvation, new stirring of prayer, contemporary expressions of the church, [and] migrant church buildings restoring religion” are indicators of hope in our continent right now, writes former Europe YWAM director Jeff Fountain.
Might or not it’s that, within the midst of this religious desert, God is perhaps springing new streams of residing waters, and even seeds for revival?
It might definitely not be the primary time that God adjustments the narrative of a continent.
Solely a long time in the past, Protestants described Latin America as a mission discipline. Right now, it is grow to be a mission pressure, and the Brazilian church sends the second most missionaries on this planet. In 1900, Africa was house to about 9 million Christians. Who may ever have imagined that by the 2020s there can be half a billion Christians on the continent?
However the missional challenges for Christians in Europe are overwhelming.
“Europe is without doubt one of the hardest areas on this planet through which to bear witness to Christ. The mixture of the three-headed monster of secularism, pluralism and materialism make Christian witness troublesome throughout the Continent,” says Lindsay Brown, former normal secretary of IFES (Worldwide Fellowship of Evangelical College students).
The previous continent has a posh and distinctive historical past with the Christian religion.
“No different continent has been uncovered to Christianity for such a chronic interval and in such an in depth means,” wrote Jim Reminiscence, the Lausanne Europe co-regional director, within the Europe 2021 Missiological Report. “But simply as Europe was the primary continent to be Christianized, it was additionally the primary to be de-Christianized.” As Fountain points out, the continent has been basically formed by the gospel, “however paradoxically, additionally by its rejection.”
As a 12-year missionary and church planter in Rome, I’ve seen these realities firsthand.
After being raised in Latin America and educated in North America, after I moved to Europe and began to share my religion with individuals round me, it was clear I confronted a brand new degree of skepticism. There gave the impression to be a cloud of unbelief and pessimism, and an underlying assumption that God is just not actual.
Even so, in our day, “a rare re-evangelisation of Europe is happening,” wrote Reminiscence in his report. Listed here are 5 methods we’re seeing God transfer all through the continent.
1. Diaspora church buildings
The missional paradigm shift described by Samuel Escobar—“from the West to the Relaxation” to “from in all places to everybody”—is maybe extra evident in Europe than wherever else on this planet.
Because the 2021 missiological report explains:
Latin-American migrants have planted hundreds of church buildings in Spain, Portugal and past over the past thirty years. It’s troublesome to discover a main European metropolis that doesn’t have a big Spanish talking and/or Brazilian congregation. Equally, Chinese language church buildings might be discovered nearly in all places. African-initiated Pentecostal church buildings quantity within the hundreds in Britain alone.
The contribution of migrant church buildings to the evangelization of Europeans was additionally a central theme in Lausanne Europe’s 2021 gathering, which outfitted native-born Europeans to be extra intentional in serving to diaspora Christians attain the native populations and migrant leaders to contextualize to allow them to be more practical in reaching Europeans, past individuals of their very own nationalities.
2. Church planting
Church planting has been additionally accelerating in Europe by means of varied networks, denominations, and mission businesses. In France, for instance, the Nationwide Council of French Evangelicals (CNEF) has set a purpose of creating evangelical church for each 10,000 individuals. The church planting motion in France noticed, on common, one church be planted every seven days or so over the previous couple of years.
“We wish to transfer the church in Europe from decline and plateauing into development,” mentioned Øystein Gjerme, chief of M4 Europe, a motion with a imaginative and prescient to see one church planted every single day in Europe. Final yr, Exponential Europe, a vibrant church planting motion working in partnership with different key church planting networks like City to City and established mission businesses like Greater Europe Mission, hosted spherical tables of church planters in 30 completely different international locations.
3. The prayer motion
The late revival historian J. Edwin Orr wrote that “every time God is able to do one thing new along with his individuals, he at all times units them to praying.”
For the final 20 years, the 24/7 prayer motion has seen the delivery of twenty-two,000 prayer rooms in 78 nations, nearly all of them in Europe.
The start of this motion traces again to when its founder, Pete Greig, had a strong expertise. Round 20 years in the past, Greig, then a current college graduate, was praying for the nations of Europe one evening whereas strolling on the cliffs of Cape St. Vincent, Portugal. Within the midst of his intercession, he writes in Red Moon Rising, he had a imaginative and prescient of younger Europeans shifting, “a mysterious, faceless military silently awaiting for orders.”’ The imagery reminded him of Ezekiel 37. “You see bones? I see a military,” he wrote in a poem that later went viral.
One house of prayer in Augsburg, Germany, has had steady prayer, day and evening, for 11 years, or 110,000 hours.
4. Elevated Christian unity
The warfare in Ukraine has fostered unprecedented collaboration between mission businesses. The Christian Ukraine Collaboration introduced collectively leaders of assorted organizations, some who’ve by no means met earlier than, “to deal with the complexity and scope of this large humanitarian disaster,” writes Matthew Pascall. Networks just like the European Management Discussion board, the European Evangelical Alliance, and the Lausanne Motion have strengthened unity and collaboration.
In charismatic circles, a historic coalition of 29 denominations and mission businesses in Norway introduced collectively 9,000 younger individuals, the biggest Christian cross-denominational gathering in over 20 years, for The Send Norway. Previously decade, different charismatic ministries like Awakening Europe have additionally stuffed stadiums within the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden, bringing collectively a number of native church buildings and Christian organizations.
5. The subsequent era
This Might, 13,000 teenagers and younger adults from throughout Germany got here collectively for Christival, a convention organized by a nondenominational community with historic roots within the Jesus Motion. Initiatives like these lead me to consider that God is elevating a brand new era of Europeans eager for genuine encounters with Jesus.
“We see an rising era arising that’s not ashamed of the gospel. It is sort of a small cloud within the horizon, like Elijah noticed earlier than the rain in I King 18,” mentioned Andreas Nordli, the director of The Send Norway.
I used to be personally stunned to see the starvation amongst college college students in Europe for a contemporary transfer of God. In 2019, Revive Europe, the motion I’ve the privilege of main, introduced collectively 3,000 college college students from 68 nations to wish for a revival amongst their friends. College students proceed to carry up this want to God by means of weekly prayer conferences in Berlin and gatherings with as much as 400 college students in Belfast. In current months, we’ve been impressed by seeing Croatian college students attend packed Alpha programs in Zagreb and baptize eight of their buddies.
“The brand new era gave the impression to be extra conscious of the vacancy of a purely materialistic life-style,” mentioned Luke Greenwood, the European director of Steiger, a young-people-focused missions ministry. “They’re more and more open to religious conversations, prayer, and particularly in search of a group to belong to.’’
We see in Scripture time and again that within the darkest of occasions, when the individuals of God flip to him with all their hearts, God hears their prayers. Would possibly God have a revival in retailer for the continent?
“I do assume that Europe is prepared for a revival. A breath of contemporary air in drained lungs,” says the newly appointed normal secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance, Connie Duarte. “Younger European Christians are becoming a member of collectively for prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to get up Europeans and remind them of their religious heritage.’’
Tim Keller notes that when revival occurs, “sleepy Christians get up, nominal Christians get transformed and arduous to achieve get dramatically dropped at religion.’’ That is very a lot wanted in Europe. J. I. Packer goes as far to say that “with out revival within the church, there may be actually no hope for the Western world in any respect.’’
Even when some lengthy for revival, many occasions European leaders are understandably skeptical when listening to tales of God shifting or studying related reflections of a doable new motion of God in Europe. Certainly, the subject of revival has been mentioned for years, however we’ve not but seen the type of transfer some have been hoping for.
And but, in Genesis 18, Sarah laughs on the entrance of the tent when listening to 3 guests inform she would give delivery to a son inside a yr. Final yr, French evangelist Raphael Anzenberger reminded the attendees on the Lausanne Europe Gathering of this story, for this will usually be our posture when listening to of the potential of God respiratory new life on this previous continent.
Might or not it’s that post-Christian won’t be Europe’s ultimate phrase? If some say that Christianity in some elements of Europe appears to be lifeless, effectively, we occur to serve a God who’s the resurrection enterprise.
As Lindsay Brown, the previous worldwide director of the Lausanne Motion, places it, “Throughout the continent we see lights flickering within the darkness by means of many great ministries. Please pray with us that God, by means of the Holy Spirit, would fan these flickering lights into the flame of revival.”
Sarah Breuel is the director of Revive Europe and serves on the board of administrators of the Lausanne Motion.