Germany

"We pray that a lost generation of Europeans will come home to the God of their forebears."

Nine years after the Berlin Wall came down and eight years after the reunification of the two German states, the country of Martin Luther and of the Heidelberg Confession faces challenges as never before. Germany truly has a new face, one that people in both the east and the west of our nation still have to get used to beholding in the mirror. The same is true for the church.

Before reunification, just under half of the population in West Germany was Roman Catholic, and just over half was Protestant. We now are confronted with a three-thirds situation, the last third being unchurched or openly atheistic citizens. Under the rule of communism and the antireligious policies of the East German government, church membership dropped from 95 percent in 1945 to about 20 percent in 1990. Over a million people left the official church after reunification on October 3, 1990 (which is now our National Day). This was due in large measure to the reintroduction of the system of church taxation in the east. Today, only 5 percent of the Protestants and 10 percent of the Catholics bother to go to church on any kind of regular basis. In the east, many families have been unchurched and therefore untouched by the gospel for three or four generations. At a recent evangelistic outdoor event, young people were asking: "God—what is that? We have never heard about it."

Nevertheless, there is a real—but by no means pervasive—evangelical movement within the traditional Protestant churches, as there is, of course, in what are called the "free churches." Free churches include Baptists (80,000 members), Methodists (almost 50,000), Free Evangelicals ...

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