How To Expand The Evangelical Presence In Europe

There are three simultaneous events that will expand the evangelical presence in Europe.  These are not mysterious events.  They are not secret; in fact, many people and organizations do these things in a variety of countries.  There are a number of reasons why it is important for us to expand evangelical presence in Europe that are not relevant here.  They will appear in other articles more targeted to that question.

Also, by evangelical presence I am not talking about conservative republican political evangelical presence.  I am talking about pure New Testament based evangelical churches whose presence reaches into the community through a variety of outreaches and influences.

There is currently a small presence that needs to be encouraged and strengthened where it is.  The expansion of the presence must be from within.  We do not need to export American evangelical Christianity with its political overtones to Europe.  We need to support the European Church.  That is one of the amazing things about God.  He creates a church within a location that is relevant to that location. 

We have to learn to empower others and trust them to do what is right.  This is what real parenting is all about.  It is about training a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.  It is not about control and manipulation.  True freedom involves trust and confidence.

The first event is to begin coming alongside the evangelicals, both churches and individuals, who are already working in Europe.  This means we should financially support them, pray for them, and work alongside them physically. These actions increase the strength of the presence that already exists in Europe. 

In order to do this we will need to leave behind some of our own theories of what a real church looks like.  This does not mean we must compromise the core tenants of our faith.  These core tenants are not culturally transformative; they are eternal and transcend culture.

At the same time, there are a variety of doctrines we think are eternal and they are not.  Things we grew up with that do not matter.  We have to evaluate these cross-cultural movements by sticking to the eternal questions, questions about salvation and the transformation of man rather than how our parents or grandparents did church.

The second event is to begin planting evangelical churches in Europe.  Like coming alongside local European evangelical churches, we have to be careful about how we plant churches.  We do not need to create a further outreach of American denominations in Europe.

We must create a European evangelical church that answers the moral questions of the day with answers from the true church that properly reflects the Gospel through the eyes of Europeans.  It must be a culturally relevant, doctrinally true church.

These must be churches that reach out into their communities and minister to the poor, the drug addicts, the alcoholics, and homeless, and any other outcasts within this culture.  They must be prepared to minister the Gospel to the growing Muslim community as well.  Many in this community are sensitive to spiritual matters and therefore open to the truth of the Christian message.

The best way to do this is to work with teams of church planters whose goal is to plant a first church that will inevitably be American at its core.  This church should then seek to plant a second church using leaders from the country where the church is being planted.  Thus, the support for the church might well be American, but the core of the leadership and the membership of the church is European.

The evangelical imprint remains on the church.  At the same time, the church is European and thus relevant to the local community without the ties back to the negative impressions many Europeans have regarding American Christianity.

The third event is to come alongside these evangelical outposts and protect their religious freedom.  This is where the International Human Rights Group comes into play.  This is what we do.

This means that we must fight to protect the right to share the Gospel message in public places throughout Europe.  We must fight to protect the right of parents to control the education of their children, either through a true voice in the public schools or through home schooling.  We must fight for the right of churches to exist, even in a system that requires a discriminatory registration process like most of the former Soviet Block countries.

Whatever the religious freedom cause, we have to be there support our brothers and sisters.  We must encourage them.  We must embolden them.  Trusting them to remain true to the core of the Gospel and transform their own countries.

Together these three events will see a transformation and expansion of the European evangelical presence.

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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