Germany's nominal Christianity conceals a liberal, secular, and post-modern perspective that views the Christian faith as irrelevant to life. The evangelical community in Germany numbers not quite two percent of the population, and it faces significant challenges in gaining a strong public identity. TEAM is working with committed evangelical communities that are making a difference in German society, and the great hope is that their impact will grow as they see what God is capable of doing through his church.View Opportunities
Germany conjures up images of stately cathedrals and ancient castles, reminiscent of a past in which Teutonic knights protected their lords’ lands and in which Christianity played a central role in society. The Reformation was sparked when a German monk named Martin Luther posted his 95 theses calling for reform in the Catholic church on the door of the Wittenberg castle in 1517. His reading of the book of Romans convinced him that one could be born again spiritually only by grace through faith in Christ alone.
The Reformation was spurred on by the invention of the printing press in Germany and subsequent printing of the first books ever, including the Bible, in the language of the people—German, not Latin. The authority of the church and papacy was challenged as people had opportunity to read and interpret the Scriptures for themselves. In Protestantism people discovered that they could approach God without the mediation of the church and its priests. Luther’s influence was far-reaching and led to the writing of hymns and the development of congregational singing, expanded education for both men and women, a focus on expository preaching and the teaching of the Scriptures, and the encouragement to marry and raise a family—even among priests.
A Pagan Land with Christian Residue
With a history like this, one might expect Germany to be a country filled with Bible-believing citizens who follow Jesus wholeheartedly, but nothing could be further from the truth. In 1992, Der Spiegel, Germany’s Time magazine, reported the results of a nationwide religious survey and concluded: “Germany has become a pagan land with Christian residue.” – link to German article “Abschied von Gott.”
Decades of liberal theology has gutted the church of Gospel power and left it weak and impotent. Although interest in New Age philosophy and Eastern religions is growing, most Germans have little use for and little interest in Christianity beyond the traditional cultural “requirements” of getting baptized and confirmed. Once they complete their religious instruction, many say good-bye to the church forever. In fact, both the Catholic and Lutheran churches are losing members at a steady clip. On September 24, 2012, the BBC reported that the “number of congregants leaving the Catholic church swelled to 181,000 in 2010, with the increase blamed on revelations of sexual abuse by German priests.” – BBC News: “German Catholics lose church rights for unpaid tax”
Bright Spot on the Horizon
Although the picture is bleak, there are exciting things happening in Germany. The German Evangelical Free Church, or Bund Freier evangelischer Gemeinden (FeG) in German, is one of the few denominations in the country experiencing modest growth. TEAMers have been involved in a synergistic partnership with the FeG for over 25 years and have planted FeG churches in Rödermark, Kriftel, Oberursel, Mannheim, Kaiserslautern, Ramstein, Neuburg a.d. Donau and Mainburg. The FeG has a 10-year vision of seeing 100 new churches planted by the end of 2015. As of January 2016, 69 new FeG churches have been started (shown by red dots if you click on the link). Although the ten-year period has passed, TEAM-Germany will continue working hand-in-hand with the FeG to start dynamic, new churches that will be known for their atmosphere of grace and concern for outsiders.
One TEAM Germany worker completed a short survey trip in early 2012 and identified over ten locations where FeG Christians want to start new churches; their lack of leadership was the only thing holding them back. After his trip, this TEAM missionary pastor remarked: “I wish I could clone myself and help them all.” What about you? Could you make a difference in Germany? We are convinced that there are other Christians out there whom God wants to use in building His kingdom in Germany. Drop us a line and we might be able to link you with a great opportunity (even if you don’t see it listed on our opportunities page).
The Dresden Initiative
A Brief History In early 2012 the leaders of the FeG Dresden (EV Free Church) had been praying about how…Learn More
The Dresden Initiative
Thanks to the Communists who ruled it for 40 years, the former East Germany is one of the most atheistic places on the face of the earth. According to one German journalist, “Turning people away from God was the Communists’ sole and evidently lasting success.” TEAM and the FeG (Evangelical Free Church) of Dresden are partnering together to share the good news of Jesus Christ with German atheists and establish new churches in and around Dresden, in the German federal state of Saxony. Won’t you consider joining the team?
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