Germany (MNN) — Mentioning evangelical Christianity is a
good way to shut down a conversation in Cologne, Germany. Less than 5 percent of the people attend
church on a regular basis, though over 40 percent profess Catholicism.
Many, like Andreas and Nora (names changed), remove their
church membership so they don't have to pay the mandatory tax. They received membership automatically when
they were baptized as infants.
God brought Andreas and Nora to sit at a table at an Italian
restaurant where a Greater Europe Mission missionary couple was sitting.
The restaurant had large tables meant to be shared with other
customers. When most Germans sit at such
tables, they are polite but not eager to converse. When the missionaries greeted Andreas and
Nora, however, they warmed to the conversation readily. The two couples ended up talking till
Providentially, the conversation turned to spiritual matters
before the issue of "religion" came up.
Andreas discussed his work in business and Nora told of her work at a
telephone company. After a couple hours,
they learned the other man was a pastor.
starting a liturgical Protestant church," the missionary said, "and
our second monthly service happens to be next weekend."
Christian couples are starting the church to reach out to "cultural Catholics,"
who keep their church membership as a kind of safety net. Their goal is to make people from a
liturgical background comfortable in their services, but emphasize the Gospel
and Nora visited the church. They did
not take communion, but they talked with the missionaries afterward. "The service was so moving," Nora
said. "We've never been to a service as personal as this."
The couple couldn't stay for the
meal afterward because they had another commitment. The missionary joked that he could write Andreas
an excuse for his absence. "‘I'll write, ‘Andreas could not come because he had an
appointment,'" he said, "and [Andreas] broke in and finished the sentence:
The missionaries say it is no
surprise to find people in Cologne who are open to the Gospel, because they
have spent so much time praying for the city.
You can join them this fall to prayer-walk through Cologne, Germany and
Stockholm, Sweden on August 11-21.
Germany is the world's fifth-largest
economy, but it struggles with 11.7 percent unemployment, slow economic growth,
a declining birthrate, and the repercussions of increasing immigration.
Although most Germans are no
longer interested in the traditional church or looking for happiness in
spirituality, they are still open to God and looking for answers on the meaning
of life. Christians have planted over a
thousand new churches in the last ten years, as God works through the free- and