A decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany remains essentially divided, with the influence of the church in new federal states of the former communist East Germany lagging far behind the West. And Germans are now directing attention East, as most government ministries will complete by the end of the year a long-awaited move from Bonn near the Dutch border to Berlin.
Evangelicals are aware of the difficulties of working in Eastern Germany, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), where 80 percent of the population is unchurched.
"Germany, though reunified, is spiritually still two countries," says Craig Ott, an American church-planting veteran who now teaches at the Columbia Biblical Seminary German extension institute in Korntal, near Stuttgart. He notes that church-planting efforts in the East remain extremely difficult and that the region is less open to the Christian message than most other former communist-bloc countries.
FAITH FIGURES FALL: Ott's assessment is supported by several sets of opinion poll results indicating clear challenges for the church in modern Germany. In April, 73 percent of West Germans indicated they believed in God—while 65 percent of East Germans said they did not. Only one German in ten goes to church each week.
In a poll by the Emnid Institute published in May by the influential magazine Der Spiegel, 43 percent of East Germans and 27 percent of West Germans replied that "Jesus means nothing to me anymore." Only 10 percent of East Germans and 27 percent of West Germans believed that "Jesus was God's son, came as a Savior, and rose from the dead." In addition, 79 percent of East Germans and 51 percent of West Germans believe there is no "life after death."
Not only are many churches ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more