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GREIFSWALD (ANS) -- The climate for evangelism in Germany has improved. But a significant proportion of the Protestant clergy still harbor reservations.
The Research Institute for Evangelism and Church Development at the University of Greifswald in Northeast Germany has conducted an in-depth study of the attitudes of Protestant clergy towards evangelism.
Generally speaking the younger generation of theologians in the mainline Protestant Churches has become more open towards evangelistic activities. The institute identifies five types of clergy – from the evangelistic enthusiast to the overall critic.
One type is labeled as “indifferent”. This kind of minister would never take personal responsibility for an evangelistic event, but would be prepared to extend invitations for outside programs like ProChrist.
The “overall critic”, on the other hand, would not be prepared to lend any support. The “enthusiast” organizes evangelistic outreach programs regularly. “Loyal critics” support evangelistic activities gladly, but have reservations about certain aspects like altar calls.
The fifth category is described as “critical evangelists”. Though interested in winning people for the church, they look at evangelism with deep suspicion.
The study was conducted on behalf of the evangelistic project ProChrist. It shows that evangelism is not yet an integral part of the clergy’s ministry. Their main concern is the spiritual care for their flock.
But, as the institute emphasizes, the traditional notion that faith is roused almost automatically through church socialization is no longer reality. All in all, German clergy reveal certain helplessness in spreading the Christian faith.
Nominalism prevails in Martin Luther’s homeland. Although roughly 60 percent of the 82 million inhabitants of Germany are – owing to infant baptism – Catholic or Protestant church members, attendance is low. Four to five percent of the 25 million Protestant church members worship on an average Sunday.
|Wolfgang Polzer (58), is senior news editor of the Evangelical News Agency idea, Wetzlar (Germany), which he joined in 1981. In all, he has spent more than 30 years in Christian media. Wolfgang can be contacted by e-mail at: Wolfgang.Polzer@idea.de.|