One of the very first places the Apostle Paul took the gospel was to Thessalonica – which is modern day Thessaloniki, Greece. It’s a stunningly beautiful place. And though it was one of the first places in the world reached by the Gospel, today only .4% of the population is Evangelical Christian. This same reality is repeated in country after country, throughout the continent of Europe.
Few people realize that today, Europe is the least Christian continent. The American church spends considerable energies drawing attention to the 10/40 Window and the plight of the Third world (as well we should), but most of us fail to understand the spiritual plight of modern day Europe.
The statistics can often be misleading. Much of the information online would lead you to believe that Europe remains a Christian continent – but those studies are reporting those who self Identify as “Christian” in broad surveys. When we account for those who actually hold to a basic Evangelical worldview, the numbers drop considerably. The number of Europeans who agree with the following four tenants of the Evangelical Church is less than 4%:
Source: Johnstone, Patrick. The Future of the Global Church. Colorado Springs: Biblica. 2011.
The culture in Europe is decidedly Post-Christian. Most Europeans hardly think about God at all. The continent used to have extensive Christian witness from the Catholic, Orthodox, and Lutheran churches – but overall those churches are weak and in decline. Even in Croatia, the country where we do the bulk of our work, greater than 90% claim to be catholic. However, when you look under the surface, that number is misleading. Only 15% of those claiming to be Catholic actually practice their faith and participate in Mass.
Croatia, and most of Europe, is fast becoming a secular nation. The impressive buildings that once welcomed eager worshipers now serve primarily as museums and tourist attractions.
That’s why mission work in Europe is so important. That’s why we are invested in the equipping, education, and training of Christian leaders. Europe needs indigenous leaders who are well equipped to lead the church toward renewal and revival.