Germany (MNN) — Berlin, Germany: a city that defines “post-Christian.”
According to Operation World, approximately 63% of Germans claim to be Christians, but only 2% in the entire country are evangelical.
“Thousands are formally disaffiliating in order to avoid the church tax of 8-9% of their income, and many churches are closing. Churches seem paralyzed, having lost much of their identity, purpose, and income,” claims Operation World on its profile of the country.
“Germany needs another reformation as deep and lasting as the one sparked by Luther nearly 500 years ago.”
Jonathon Shibley of Global Advance says they’re seeing small ripples of change not only in Germany, but throughout the European domain.
“There’s a lot of positive things happening in Europe,” he states. “There’s some new, emerging young churches…where there’s a lot of life that’s happening, and they’re attracting young people as well.”
Working alongside European Initiative and several European-based workplace ministries, Global Advance held a Marketplace Missions conference in Berlin earlier this month.
“We’ve collaborated and we’ve brought together about 100 business leaders, representing all types of business and industry and age demographics,” explains Shibley. “There’s been a lot of encouragement among believers and a spark.”
He says the event helped German Christ-followers realize they’re not alone, a thought which frequents the minds of believers across the pond.
“Most people’s perceptions of Christianity in Europe [are] an old, dead church building where nobody attends, except on holidays. Well, as you and I know, that’s not the message of the Gospel,” says Shibley. “The message of the Gospel is life.
“We don’t have to have it on our shoulders, per se, to bring people to Christ. But we take Christ to people, and that happens naturally through the vein of the workplace and through the marketplace and business.”
Though the conference occurred earlier this month, Global Advance didn’t stop there.
“A lot of [participants] are now a part of Network Fellowships that meet on an ongoing basis for continued discipleship, fellowship, [and] encouragement,” Shibley says.
When global markets collapsed in 2008 and many European countries began to slide into a financial crisis, many people began a desperate search for true security.
“I think God uses circumstances like that…to awaken people,” states Shibley. “I believe this is an opportunity for the Church, throughout Europe, to be a solution to what’s going on.”
While the ongoing instability of Europe’s economy has German believers rattled, they’re viewing it as a double-edged sword.
“There’s concern,” Shibley admits, “but also there’s [an] opportunity to say, ‘Hey, regardless of what happens, our faith and our hope [are] anchored in something that’s more than the economy’.”
“Pray that the believers throughout Europe will be encouraged…and they’ll see the bigger picture: that God is going to use them, no matter what’s going on around them, to be salt and light for this generation,” requests Shibley.
Pray for Gospel opportunities in Germany.
“Pray that God will soften the ground, that He’ll cultivate the ground and the readiness of people’s hearts to receive the message of Christ,” says Shibley.
“Whether it’s in word, whether it’s in deed, whether it’s through the normal interaction of day-to-day life, that people’s hearts will be conditioned and ready to receive the Good News, the seed of the Gospel.”