For years, intellectuals proclaimed the end of Christianity in France, swallowed by the tides of modernity, science, and reason. Protestants were mostly evicted or “invited to leave” during the CounterReformation in the 17th century. The use of religious language and symbols was outlawed in public in the years after the French Revolution against the Catholic nobility. “Having faith” or “being spiritual” is often seen as odd, or a form of ignorance, or superstition.
Nevertheless Evangelicalism in France is on the rise; a study by the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF) shows around 35 new evangelical churches were opened in France last year, or three a month. There are around 650,000 evangelical Christians in France, around a third of all the 1.6 million Protestants, and according to the CNEF study this number has increased tenfold in the last 60 years.
On paper France would seem one of the least likely places for this branch of Christianity to gain a foothold. For centuries, Protestantism was the embattled minority in a country Catholics
liked to call the “eldest daughter of the church” because of its strong ties to Rome. The minority that exists now still makes up just 3% of the population. Much of the growth has come through the arrival of new, charismatic brands of Church, such as the Assemblies of God, or Hillsongs, now with venues in Paris and various other cities.
Many of these are of megachurch size, like the Charisma Church whose four thousand strong congregation meets in a former factory warehouse just outside of Paris. In fact some French scholars say evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France – defying all stereotypes about Europe’s most secular nation.
Source: CNEF; The Guardian
Bible Study: Acts 16:5
JUNE PRAISE GOD for evangelical churches in France, which are growing despite a previously very low base, and that they appear to be growing faster than other religions. Pray for effective witness so that people will see past stereotypes and be challenged by the person and message of Christ