Europe is often forgotten as a mission field, but in reality, many see it as both the neediest and most strategic continent in the world today in regards to world evangelism. European university students are not only one of the most un-evangelized groups in the world, but also the most critical for the overall success of world evangelism. It is also a very difficult place to minister because of the pride and hardness of heart of many European university students.
The gospel is exploding in 2/3 of the world today, in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Even in the Muslim world, there are reports of significant conversions. But Europe has seen a 35% decline in number of evangelicals in the previous century and today is experiencing only a 1.1% growth. Europe is also still the leading educator of the world, and wields powerful influence on world thinking.
Unbelief is the fastest growing belief system in the world, which is being exported by Europe. In 1900 there were approximately 225,000 atheists, with 90% of them being in Europe. In 100 years this small group grew to over 150 million, but now only 18% are estimated to be in Europe. There were estimated to be approximately 3 million agnostics in 1900, but today it is estimated to be 750 million (about 12% of the people in the world).
The old saying still holds true today, “As Europe goes, so goes the world”. In reality, today Europe is believed to be the place where the most significant global battle for the gospel is being fought. European university students are some of the most difficult people to reach with the gospel because of their embedded unbelief and naturalism combined with an attitude of pride and general hardness of heart. But still traces of spiritual interest remain as they generally show a willingness to discuss issues of philosophy and spirituality, because no real answers have been found.
For more details, see Dr. Greg Pritchard’s document “A Global Vision of the Gospel and Europe’s Strategic Importance”. You can also hear Dr. Pritchard’s presentation of this information at the European Leadership Forum by clicking HERE.