Reading reports out of Europe, you get the impression that the Christian church is not doing well. And though it’s true the Roman Catholic and liberal churches are in decline pretty much like they are around the world, the Evangelical church is doing fine.
A recent report by the Spanish Government says the Evangelical church is on the upswing in Spain. According to the Religious Plurality report released by the country’s Justice ministry, as of December 31, 2016 there are 3,910 Evangelical churches in Spain, up from 3,769 in 2015, an increase of 141.
In other words, last year a new Evangelical church opened in that country every two and a half days.
These numbers only included registered churches and do not include unregistered house churches or Bible study/prayer groups.
The report added that the Evangelical church is also the fastest growing religion in Spain. Religion analyst Maximo Alvarez who described the increase as a “great upturn,” said the growth has been most pronounced since 2000.
With 46 million people, there is still a need for more evangelical churches in Spain. Groups working in the country have identified 587 towns with populations exceeding 5,000 that do not have an evangelical work.
In contrast, the Roman Catholic church is in a downward spiral. In 2016, 69% of Spaniards identified themselves as Roman Catholics down from 77% in 2006.
The Evangelical church is also on the upswing in France (population 67 million). At the end of 2016, the number of Evangelical churches in that country sat at 2,200.
According to a report by the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF), in 2016 a new Evangelical church opened in that country every 10 days.
CNEF serves as an umbrella organization for 70% of French Evangelicals.
Overall the number of Evangelical churches increased by 35 and the report noted a slight “acceleration” in growth over the last two years.
Aside from the increasing number of churches, CNEF added that many churches are also experiencing growth citing the church Lille Metropole that recently increased its seating capacity from 800 to 2,000. A number of churches are also building facilities, instead of renting.
For several years, there was a Bible verse that I interpreted exactly the opposite of what it meant. I think it was due partly to my prevailing belief that the church would be in a fight for its life in the end times.
18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18 NASV)
When Jesus talked about the Gates of Hell not overcoming the church, for some reason I had twisted the verse and had the Gates of Hell battering the church.
In fact, it was exactly the opposite.
In ancient times, the gates of a city or fortress were considered the most vulnerable spot of the wall and attacking armies would focus their attack at these points.
So in this verse, Jesus is picturing His kingdom as the invading army and the Gates of Hell, the defenders, would not be able to withstand the assault.
- Spain: 12 Evangelical churches open every month: Evangelical Focus
- Three new evangelical churches open in France every month: Evangelical Focus