Our decision to move to Germany surprises a lot of people, and we hear a lot of common questions: Isn’t there greater need in other parts of the world? Isn’t Germany a mostly Christian nation already?
The answers to these questions, respectively, are Yes (but not really), and Yes (but not really).
There is need in other parts of the world, by way of food and clean water. Ministries that rescue women and children from horrible situations bear unquantifiable significance. But the reality is that many of those parts of the world have been systematically targeted by the Church for years, and they are somewhat saturated mission fields. Here are the statistics in many parts of the world, followed by Germany:
- Kenya: 25.1 million people, 26.5% evangelical Christian
- Uganda: 18.4 million people, 24.9% evangelical Christian
- Chile: 13.1 million people, 21.6% evangelical Christian
- Guatemala: 9.1 million people, 43% evangelical Christian
- El Salvador: 5.2 million people, 30% evangelical Christian
- Puerto Rico: 4 million people, 22.5% evangelical Christian
- Germany: 82 million people, 3% evangelical Christian
- Europe: 750 million people, 4% evangelical Christian
These numbers mean that 97% of Germans have no relationship with Jesus Christ (Christianity in its Global Context, 2013). Jesus’ warning comes to mind: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” While the physical need in other parts of the world is quickly noticeable, the need for the Gospel message is greater in Europe than anywhere.
These numbers contradict census data that says Germany is 1/2 – 2/3 Christian. These numbers are based on the membership of the Catholic and Lutheran state church systems, but do not reflect engagement, nor belief. Most church buildings see more tourists during the week than worshipers on Sunday, and those who attend worship rarely hear the Gospel preached. In fact, the German language has a special word for a “believing pastor,” (gläubigerpastor) as many are non-believers who view their job as a civil service post. An ongoing University of Chicago study has called the former East Germany “the most atheistic place in the world.” The north, where we’ll be (about one hour from former East Germany), is in a similar state. In another survey, the question was asked “who do you find most trustworthy?” Gas station attendants topped the list, while lawyers and “the church” brought up the rear.
Germany, though it has a “state church” is far from a Christian nation, and the need there is as great or greater than anywhere in the world.
So pray for Germany. Pray for the people to come to a relationship with Jesus, and pray for us to play a part in correcting a negative view of the church.
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