Home Voices The Exchange The Church and Mission in Europe Today: Changing the Narrative

The Church and Mission in Europe Today: Changing the Narrative

Church in Europe
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Note from Ed Stetzer: I’m starting a series called, “Voices from the Global Church,” leading up to the Fourth Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. I serve as the regional director for North America, and serve with a team of other regional directors. I’ve asked them to share what God is doing in their regions as we plan toward the next congress. You can also find more at the Lausanne site, including the State of Great Commission report here.

Europe is a tremendously diverse and dynamic context for Christian mission. With more than 40 countries are more than 30 national languages, Europe defies easy definition. 

Yet, in many ways, Christianity is what made Europe Europe. No other continent has been exposed to Christianity for such a prolonged period of time and in such an extensive way. Yet just as Europe was the first continent to be Christianized, it was also the first to be de-Christianized…or so goes the narrative.

Around the world, Europe is seen as “the Secular Continent.”  Mission mobilization to Europe is predicated on the tiny percentage of Evangelical Christians. And conferences often include the unchallenged affirmation that Europe is post-Christian and in need of re-evangelization.

Yet have we ever stopped to consider if these presuppositions are actually true?    

Sadly, many Christian leaders both in Europe and in other parts of the world, have internalized the myth of the inevitable decline of European Christianity. Rather than holding to our eschatological hope demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, when it comes to Europe, we have internalized an eschatology of despair.  

So, to begin with, it is good to remind ourselves of how the story ends.

Revelation 7 is a postcard from the future, an image of a great multitude drawn “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (v9) and that will include believers from all the peoples and nations of Europe.

Yet that is not only a statement of faith. It is something that, out of the spotlight, is happening right now. An extraordinary re-evangelization of Europe is underway.    

I think we can identify three primary dimensions of that re-evangelization. What follows is a summary but you can read much more in my Europe 2021 report.

1. Church Planting Movements

In almost every European country, there is an acceleration in the number of new churches being planted. Whether that is the result of denominational initiatives, mission agencies, individuals, national church planting platforms, or ministries that are facilitating church planting processes, new Christian communities are sprouting up almost everywhere you look.

Just one example: The vision of the CNEF (National Council of French Evangelicals) “1 pour 10,000,” meaning one evangelical church for every 10,000 people, has spurred on church planting in France and has seen, on average, one church planted every seven days or so over the last ten years.