May 25: France

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France

French Republic

Europe

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Geography

Area: 543,965 sq km

The largest country in Western Europe.

Population: 62,636,580    Annual Growth: 0.53%

Capital: Paris

Urbanites: 77.8%

HDI Rank: 8 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)

Peoples

Peoples: 101 (33% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Official language: French. Regional languages in decline. French is the first language of 136 million people worldwide    Languages: 62 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Christian

Religion               Pop %Ann Gr
Christians38,296,00561.14-0.6
Evangelicals603,1921.02.4

Prayercast

Challenges for Prayer

The Catholic Church has lost much of its influence in society, a process accelerating since the 1980s. In 2005, only 150 men in France completed training for the priesthood. Recent polls suggest as few as 51% of French self-identify as Catholic – but this still constitutes a majority of the population. Tensions exist among conservative traditionalists, liberals, modernists, radicals and charismatics; the traditionalists (opposed to the “liberalizing” Vatican II changes) and charismatics are the most vigorous wings of the Church today. Such rapid decline has removed from Catholicism much of the meaningless ritual and paternalism and has taught humility. The Alpha Course is widely used in Catholic parishes. Pray for these changes to bring gospel light and life to French Catholicism.

Evangelical Christians are few (1.0% across all confessions), split between many denominations and confessions. They demonstrate high levels of commitment and are a younger population than France’s average. Growth is steady, and a new congregation is planted almost every week. Pentecostals and charismatics are the fastest growing. This is all in the face of strong secularizing trends in public life. Pray for:

a) The public perception of evangelicals. To most French people, the evangelical message is still seen as an alien ideology of immigrant groups and of the American right wing rather than an indigenous expression of spirituality. This bias has led to discrimination and difficulties in dealing with local authorities. Pray for transparency and good conduct by evangelicals that will demonstrate the positive impact on society their faith can have.

b) Unity among true believers has made great strides in recent years. Most evangelicals can be found in member churches of the CNEF or the Fédération Protestante. Further cooperation is being planned, at times involving believing Catholics as well. Pray especially for a deepening of unity between the various immigrant churches and French indigenous congregations.

c) The fast-growing minority churches, especially Africans, Antilleans and Gypsies. More than 250 ethnic churches exist just in the greater Paris area, and more pop up every month. The passion and faith of these groups bring new verve to evangelicalism, but they suffer a negative bias from local government and media, which is generally but not always unearned. These minority churches tend to attract the poorest and most vulnerable of society, which is both an answer to and a challenge for prayer. Pastors tend to have little training or accountability. Pray for strengthening of the recent alliances formed for African churches (CEAF and ECOC) and for Caribbean churches (UEEHAC).

d) Physical and human resources are a key to church growth in France. Having a visible building gives the Church credibility. But pioneer churches have to face two challenges simultaneously: hiring a pastor and finding a building. Pray for God to provide solutions to these formidable challenges.

e) Vision for outreach. The deep malaise and emptiness of secular postmodernity create a hunger for truth and for those who live it out. French evangelicals are coming out of their shell to rediscover evangelism anew. The CNEF has picked up the vision started by France Mission to plant one church for every 10,000 people. France remains difficult ground for church planting; pray for the grace, endurance and faith needed to establish the 4,200 fellowships remaining to meet this goal.

     For an additional 12 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

More Information

The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of France.