07/28/16

July 29: Day of Prayer for France

Following the most recent attack at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF) has issued a call to prayer tomorrow and this weekend. And thus, we want to extend it to you as well. After the attack in Nice, their press release put it well: “Given that all agree these attacks are very difficult to predict and that no safety level could ever entirely prevent them, we urge all our countrymen to turn to God, the God of Jesus Christ, who alone is capable of changing the human heart and giving true peace.”

We have no memory of a public call to prayer and fasting like this one, which is also being covered by the media. It could likely become the largest day of prayer in recent history. What might God be orchestrating? Let us pray together that he would change hearts and grant repentance to a large number of the French population.

HERE is an international news story addressing the attack and religion in France.

Below is a translation of the press release sent by the CNEF regarding tomorrow’s day of prayer:

Dear colleagues, dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The tragic attack that took place yesterday in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray against a priest and faithful member of a catholic church compels us to send out a pressing call to prayer.

We’ve already invited you to be in prayer in our press release from yesterday, but we’d like to insist on the importance of this for 3 reasons:

  • As a sign of Christian solidarity with Catholics who have been horribly devastated by this attack and are consecrating this Friday, July 29th to prayer and fasting;
  • Because the most helpful thing we can do for our country is to intercede on her behalf before God, asking that He would bring to naught the plans of those who want to take lives with the goal of sowing terror. We pray that God would pour out His peace on our citizens, the peace that the world does not know, fruit of reconciliation between God and man called to repentance and to salvation in Christ.
  • Because we have need of all His grace, and all the strength of His Spirit, to remain faithful witnesses, not usurping the beautiful name of Christ that we carry: loving even our enemies and blessing those who hate us, while continuing to proclaim the Gospel to all those God places on our path.

Concretely, we encourage you to seize all individual & collective opportunities to intercede this Friday July 29th and during this weekend’s worship times in favor of:

  • our country—that God would grant the necessary peace for the evangelical testimony among our contemporaries;
  • our authorities–that God would give them wisdom and discernment in governing and protecting our nation;
  • our population–that it would be touched with salvation in these troubled
    times;
  • our Christian brothers and sisters–that they would be faithful witnesses who do not give in to fear or desire for vengeance.

With our brotherly salutations,

Etienne et Clément
(on behalf of the CNEF board)

12/4/15

Session 5 of national church planting Learning Community

Five members of World Team France traveled once again to Lyon this week for session five of the church planting learning community. These collaborations are organized by the National Council of French Evangelicals (CNEF) and happen twice a year over the course of three years. Eight denominations or missions are present for a total of 40+ participants. Through wrestling over the issues at hand, the goal is to create a common vision and strategy as well as a sense of partnership as we pursue together the goal of 1 church for every 10,000 people in France.

Past sessions have focused on themes such as cultural relevancy, discipleship, and solutions to financial needs. This week’s meetings were centered on training church planters and their coaches.

The diversity of presenters was remarkable : A Spanish pastor motivating a church-led planting movement in Spain where they’ve seen 100 churches planted over the course of the past year, a training and mentoring cycle he’s also used in South America; a Francoamerican who shared some models he used while working for 15 years in the middle east and north Africa; and a Norwegian leader who, after decades of church planting in Norway, helped to evaluate their work and create a training system for church planters and their teams that is now being used across Europe (where Swedes are training French, Czechs are training Swiss, Romanians are training Latvians…see the video below.)

The need for more structured training has been on our minds for a while in World Team France, and the time working through these ideas was stimulating and motivating. But what is most encouraging at these learning community meetings is the sense of unity and collaboration across deno minational lines for the advance of the Gospel. It is exciting to hear of new church plant projects starting and multiplying across the country with young French leaders stepping up to the task. This sort of enthusiasm, direction, and momentum arguably did not exist even 10 years ago, and it is the big answer to many years of prayers that will surely continue bearing fruit in the future.

Your donations to Seeds of Hope go in part to further training and development of our workers, including the participation in these workshops. Thank you for making it possible. For more on Seeds of Hope, visit this page.

11/16/15

Some ways to #PrayforParis

prayforparisThe overwhelming support expressed for Paris in a myriad of ways over the past few days has been an encouragement to us. We hope you are taking the need to pray for Paris seriously and making time to do it. Here are some ways to get you started:

  • For God’s comfort for the family and friends of those who died so suddenly and needlessly.
  • For the survivors and all who were directly affected. They will remember and for some relive this tragic day for the rest of their lives.
  • For emergency and military personnel, police officers and hospital staff, all of whom are tired and facing stress-filled days.
  • For peace and justice to be restored as the government searches for those involved. Pray that leaders would display wisdom and humility as they respond.
  • For a response of love and restoration to spread throughout the city and country, rather than reactions of racial tension or xenophobia.
  • For wisdom for us and others in knowing how to respond and share the love of Christ with our neighbors and friends and that churches would be well-equipped to communicate hope.
  • For many to put their hope and trust in Christ, the only true light that exists in the darkness of our world.

We recommend this article at Christianity Today featuring interviews with Parisian pastors that many of us know, as well as this summary at the Gospel Coalition written by someone working in France.

05/11/15

How far do you drive to get to church?

The quick numbers : France as a whole currently has about 1 Evangelical church for every 30,000 people. The national goal is to plant enough to churches to triple their number, reaching 1 church for every 10,000 by the year 2030.

But for the French Christian, what’s that look and feel like? Here are two maps that make it a bit more concrete.

The first shows all the places where you can reach a church in 15 minutes by car:

ChurchesFrance

Though every village has a centuries-old church building at its center, only 42% of French territory has an active Evangelical church within a 15 minute drive.

Double the driving time and the picture is a little more optimistic : ChurchesFrance2

87% of French territory has an active Evangelical church within a 30 minute drive.

But here’s the thing : that one church you could reach within 30 minutes isn’t necessarily the one you like best, the one that teaches most closely to what you affirm to be true, the one with the best music or the most convenient service times or the great children’s program. In many cases that church is often the only option within a reasonable drive. That’s the reality of 1 church for 30,000 people in France.

How far do you drive for church? How far is the closest Evangelical community?

Maps and statistics taken from a 2015 CNEF report.

01/21/15

CNEF Convention

The National Council of French Evangelicals (the CNEF) has been in existence for 5 years. We’ve written about them before here and here.

On Thursday and Friday of this week, hundreds of Evangelical leaders from all over France will gather for the second national convention, an event that happens every two years. Several from World Team France will be in attendance.

Sorry, no subtitles on the video. But what it’s trying to tell you is that this year’s theme is la laïcité, which, to oversimplify, is France’s version of the separation of Church and State, in place since 1905.

French Evangelicals support la laïcité : it is what allows us to worship freely in this country, and with a history of all sorts of religious persecution, that hasn’t always been the case. At the same time, it often becomes the basis for certain rules and regulations that some feel limit our freedom, especially our freedom to discuss or demonstrate our faith in more public ways. This fine line will be up for discussion over the next few days.

Of course, as the event was planned, the organizers had no way of knowing that an attack in the name of a religion would shake the country just a few weeks ahead of time. As a result, la laïcité is currently being talked about with intensity by everyone on all sides, not just at this week’s CNEF convention. It will surely put the presentations in a different light.