God Does Not Die (Even in Europe)
The European church has suffered a prolonged and wearisome decline since the 18th century Enlightenment. Following World War II, the decline became quite steep. For years, theologians, pastors, and churchgoers have bemoaned the inert state of the European church. A recent Wall Street Journal article, however, points to a possible brighter future.
It seemed an inevitable conclusion that the church would become extinct in Europe. But now it is experiencing a spotty renaissance in areas that once were considered dead. Several explanations abound. One obvious reason is that of an influx of immigrants, all bringing with them devout beliefs. But perhaps a more intriguing explanation is the decline of state-run, monopoly churches which has opened up a “free trade” of religious ideas.
The theory states that, like in the United States, this free market of faith allows for competition among religions and churches to challenge each other for congregants. As a result, a fashionable, more energetic church springs up, and Europeans flock to the church with the most worship potency.
While this theory certainly has validity (look no further than some high-energy mega-churches here in the states), it falls flat when one realizes that most European countries have very few attending services on any given week. Places like Denmark and Sweden have only 4% of the population attending church. A bitty renewal in some things religious has yet to equate to loyal, devoted, and churchgoing Christians. Indeed, the church is still quite lifeless in most of Western Europe. Free market of religion or not, the powers of darkness maintain bastions of hostility in many corners of Europe.
All speculation and stats aside, we can rest upon our Everlasting Father. The church may suffer greatly, experience religious cardiac arrest, and hang on to a few dwindling members, but our Lord will continue. And it is through the Holy Spirit that true revival occurs, not economic theory applied to churches.
Churches may die; God does not – even in the rocky soils of Europe.
He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”
We have several missionaries currently in Europe who cannot stop speaking about what they have seen and heard. They are boldly proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ. They will not remain silent.
Pray today for gospel success. Perhaps the genesis of a large-scale revival in Europe is beginning to take root. Perhaps there is something to the fact that the WSJ reported this story. Pray that the message of our Living God will reach into the dead religious desert of Europe.