PPC: Day 1

Day one at the 2015 Paris Prayer Conference.

Our first presenter was Daniel Liechti, vice-president of the CNEF. He’s the man behind a lot of the statistics and maps we show you on the Evangelical church in France, and he was with us to give an overview of just that. Here are some of the things he said…

– There are 65 million people in France, and 600,000 of them are Christ-confessing Bible-believing practicing Christians. That is more than 10 times the number of practicing Evangelicals that existed in 1950. The rhythm of the growth of churches over the past 30 years is 1 new church being planted every 10 days. That is good news and sounds impressive, but it is only 35 new churches per year, which is not enough.

– I’m much more interested in individuals, their stories, and their transformed lives than in maps. But let’s not forget these numbers and maps represent real people who have been touched by the Gospel, and they help to direct us for the future so that the largest number possible of French people will have the opportunity to hear the gospel.

– The greatest impact we can make for the Gospel happens in the give and take between ordinary Christians being witnesses in their workplaces and everyday lives who are connected with vibrant, dynamic, relevant, welcoming churches. It is by the presence of born-again Christians functioning locally as the body of Christ that the Gospel becomes ordinarily visible and understandable.

– We have two challenges before us for which you can pray: 1) We must plant churches with people who convert to Christ. 2) We must plant churches that are able to multiply themselves.

– Our goal is to reach 1 church for every 10,000 people, meaning we must triple the current number of churches. In aiming for that, our criteria is not based on Christians being able to find a church that suits them, but rather on non-Christians having access to the Gospel. It is utterly scandalous that a French person can go their entire lives without ever coming in contact with the Gospel.

One person asked about Christian radio or TV. He responded in saying there is currently next to none, and continued:

– We are staying aware for opportunities such as those that could be pursued, but it is not our priority. French people do not need another message on the radio or TV. They need to be able to touch a practicing Christian in the flesh; they need a Christian neighbor and a dynamic church in town.

DSC_0532Our second presenter, André Pownall, has his origins in Great Britain, but has lived in France for over 40 years working as a professor at the Bible school in Paris. He presented on shifts in evangelism in France, mostly how old tools and methods the Church has typically grown used to leaning on no longer work, and the emphasis must be on authentic, relational and process-oriented interactions. A few quotes stood out:

– Modern man has a spam filter in his mind that automatically rejects messages from any unknown sources. We need to be both known and trusted.

– It’s been said the French are like cats. They’ll keep their distance for a while, needing to be comfortable in their space, at ease, in a situation where they can take the initiatve toward someone extending a relationship. They are not at all like dogs who are thrilled with interest and affection from any stranger that gives it to them.

Quoting something the founder of his Bible school said 150 years ago, he spoke of the importance of every church participating in evangelism:

– A church that doesn’t evangelize in order to grow is forced to become worldly, or else it will die!

With that, he spoke of the church having a life-cycle much like a woman. Birth, childhood, maturity…then comes a time that is ideal for reproduction. And this is supposed to be a natural process!

– But many modern women are looking to avoid giving birth these days, focusing on their lives and their careers instead. I’m afraid many churches are not much different, uninterested in giving birth.

There was much more on which to reflect than just that…look for more updates soon…

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