Posted by: Jack | April 9, 2012

Easter: Hope for city churches

I had just returned from a special day to promote church planting in Belgium, when a friend remarked, “Isn’t there any interest in older city churches!? We are dying, but few people notice or seem bothered!”

That sparked a conversation about the fate of some of the evangelical churches in Belgium in major cities that struggle to maintain their numbers, in spite of many efforts to make new contacts, and to adjust to a changing city environment. These churches all dated back to the middle of the 20th century or earlier when they were founded by missionaries. But now they appeared to be dying.

Meeting city pastors

Meeting city pastors

Just before Easter, I met with four of these city pastors to discuss their challenges. Some had not yet met one another. It was a good time to get acquainted and share their specific burdens and struggles. We agreed to seek ways in which we can encourage one another. I am now looking at ways in which I can assist these churches through student involvement and research. What is happening in these churches? Why are they not able to make new contacts in their changing and pluriform environment, with many immigrant communities? What can be done to shape or reshape these churches to give them a ‘new lease on life,’ so to speak?

Pray for wisdom in finding ways to help these churches with students from the ETF. And pray that the message of Easter may encourage and inspire these pastors in their up-hill battle in the city. In many ways, these city churches face the challenges that will soon face many other, more rural churches in Belgium. It’s high time to act!

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