I thought it fitting, since I am an American myself, to write a report of the state of the church in Germany and how it differs from America.
I would like to share some of my personal back story so you can understand what I was used to seeing on a normal basis before moving overseas. I believe that would give you a view of the stark differences and how much of a need there is in Germany. I also want to start by saying that even though the spiritual state of Germany is bad, God is still on the throne overseeing everything and is in complete control. He is still building his church in the midst of darkness, and in this we have hope.
I grew up in an area of America where there are religious people everywhere and a Baptist church building on nearly every street corner. I would say close to 75% of the population in my hometown and surrounding areas would call themselves Christians. Many of them would also attend a church of some kind. Most of the residents do not have a problem with the idea of God, many of them are even creationists, and have their morals rooted in Christianity. Unfortunately however, most congregations do not hold to the doctrines of grace, study church history, practice church discipline, or preach the importance of personal holiness and the wickedness of sin. As a result, the gospel being presented is weakened and watered-down. This has allowed deceived people to creep their way into normal Baptist churches. Not to mention the many cults that are rising in popularity recently, many of them having roots in Christianity but in reality are less Christian than Islam. It is very difficult to find a truly reformed Baptist church. I honestly thought the area I came from was in desperate need of a reformation, and truly, it is. However, I’ve come to realize that Germany has its own problems, and may be worse off than America in several ways. Nevertheless, Germany is also home to a wonderful church filled with people who fear the Lord, and I desire to share my experiences with this as well.
Before I moved to Germany for marriage early this year, I was told many times about the dark spiritual state of the country, and what to expect while living in such a place. I was pressed hard to think wisely and prayerfully about moving to this dark place before I agreed to marry my husband, who wanted to stay here to serve. I still had a very American mindset however, and still believed America needed more gospel light than Europe. Now after living here for almost a year, being involved in street evangelism, seeing the culture, learning about the German government/politics, and so on, I can testify that this country truly is in the darkness. This country which God once shook during the reformation has completely forgotten what happened 500 years ago. The majority of the people living here are not religious, are completely hostile to everything about the gospel, and would not identify with Christianity at all. Many of them are flat out atheists and mock the Bible. On the opposite side of atheism, approximately 30% of the population are Roman Catholic, which is the largest religious group. Another approximately 30% are members of the official German protestant church, which has lost it’s life and faith long ago. Germany is the home country of liberal theology, and most of the protestant churches are liberal in their teaching. The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel has come over from America and is infiltrating the charismatic churches. There are many muslim refugees from countries around Germany who are migrating here seeking a better life. The false religion of Islam is gaining popularity and growing.
When we evangelize on the streets, many people don’t even know that there are churches outside of “state churches”. If you tell them you are a member of a “free church” (a church not connected to the state), they will often believe you to be a part of a sectarian group or cult.
The number of evangelicals (of all sorts) in Germany is only around 2%. With only a hand full of reformed Baptist churches in the entire country, the need is great. To give some perspective: imagine an area roughly half the size of Texas, with 3 times the population as the entirety of Texas, and only 2% being evangelicals. There are also no universities and very few seminaries that consider themselves to be Bible believing. It is very sorrowful to ponder that the home country of the reformation has fallen down to this.
On the flip side, however, Christ is continuing to build His church in the midst of a crooked generation. He has provided a few faithful churches in the area with faithful ministers of His word. My home church, the Evangelical Reformed Baptist church of Frankfurt is among those that the Lord has bestowed His grace upon. With all the religious deception and liberalism here, it shines like a lighthouse. On average, there are around 100 people who attend on Sunday, with approximately 50 of them being church members. The Lord has blessed us by sending so many guests to us. There are 7 people desiring baptism at this time, and even
In my personal experience, I have noticed in our church and in churches that are like minded, that there is a true desire and passion to send people out and to support new church plants. There is more zeal for this than I’ve ever witnessed in American churches. Some American churches might support one missionary or have a youth group go to Africa or Haiti, but I’ve rarely seen or heard of elders really attempting to train up men for the purpose of planting a new church and truly equipping the saints. Here, it is prayed for and greatly desired that the Lord would raise up sound men from among us for pastorship. The pastors have started to allow some men from among our congregation to preach. They work with these men one on one to train them to be faithful proclaimers of the Word, in hopes that one day they may be a part of a church founding in this country. It is very encouraging to me to see how seriously it is taken. We hope the Lord will use this work to expand His own kingdom for His glory.
Ultimately with anything we do here, all the glory goes to Christ. He has given this church grace to allow it to grow as much as it has. It is very uplifting to see that even in the midst of a culture that does not know God, God still gives grace and provides suitable men to preach the truth of His word. This comes from a fellow American: Pray for Germany. Pray that God would once again shake this nation and cause many to convert to Him for His glory, before it is too late for them.