In a France suspicious of religion, evangelicalism’s message strikes a chord

From the Christian Science Monitor:

In fact, French scholars say, evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France – defying all stereotypes about Europe’s most secular nation.

The reasons are manifold: growing minority populations in France from Africa and Asia are less strictly secular and more religious. Evangelicals offer a “friendlier” and less hierarchical model of worship, with more community warmth and room for emotive expression. Leaders say they “speak to the heart” in a Europe preoccupied with wealth and worldliness, and provide a haven in times of harsh economic setbacks.

“France itself is changing, and this is a reflection of this transition,” says Sebastian Fath, a researcher at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and an expert on evangelicalism.


An important element of change was the “reconciliation” between evangelicalism’s two main wings of worship last January – the “scriptural” or “pietistic” school, and the “Holy Spirit” or Pentecostal wing.

A conciliatory meeting brought together 1,100 pastors, many from Baptist and Assembly of God groups, who were long at odds over doctrine, scriptural interpretation, the role of women, and the workings of the Spirit. The agreement, the result of 10 years of patient preparation, is said to remove the old, bitter, interdenominational warfare that often turned ordinary French off.

“We decided we had more in common than there were differences,” says Mr. Liechti, while conceding that not all theological points had been ironed out.

I guess Assemblies of God and Baptist folk can get along after all…


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