New breed of missions afoot in Europe
REHE, Germany (BP) -- It's taking a different breed of outreach to engage people in secular Europe these days.
Many Journeymen -- recent college graduates serving as short-term IMB missionaries -- have found creative ways to rub shoulders with people, develop relationships and have spiritual conversations.
Kim works with artists in Paris, Jeremy has joined a Reggae band in Finland, Hannah and Ginna run a coffee house in Macedonia, Alex plays guitar for open mic nights in Marseille and Lauren teaches English in Spain.
"We are beyond postmodern. Our culture is what I would call 'post-God,'" says a young resident in Copenhagen, a Danish city that often is a cultural indicator of European trends. In Denmark, people aren't even asking the pertinent questions anymore about meaning and existence, he says. "They just don't care."
Likewise, secular news sources often depict religion in major European cities as nearing extinction. Or people refer to themselves as "secular Christians": They join churches because they see the positive aspects of being involved in programs with moral teaching, but they are not at all interested in pursuing spiritual conversations. The church becomes more of a community center than a place of worship.
But these challenges don't thwart this newest wave of missionaries.
Kim, in Paris, reports, "I am working on networking through several avenues to build relationships with artists, studios and galleries primarily on the left bank of the city. This includes participating in art classes and exhibit openings."
Jeremy in Finland says people haven't been receptive to the Gospel but they are open to spiritual conversations. "It's difficult just earning the right to be heard in this culture with strangers," he says, "and so it does take time."
Among the most secular European nations also are the Czech Republic, Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In the Czech Republic, 60 percent of the population claims no affiliation with any church.
"All of my friends know I am a Christian and have heard me discuss my faith," says Ryan in France. "Many are kind and accepting but are not willing to enter spiritual discussion or attend a Bible study. But I am exploring new ideas and tools to better reach these friends God has placed in my life."
Karen Pearce is a writer for the International Mission Board in Europe. To learn more about new expressions of missions in today's context, visit imb.org. For a Baptist Press story on the coffee house outreach by Hannah and Ginna in Macadonia, go to www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=35989