The Secret to Growing Churches

The Netherlands used to be a very religious country, but that has changed in recent decades. The beautiful churches and churches that dot the landscape receive fewer and fewer visitors. Catholic, Protestant or Reformed: the church is emptying. However, contrary to this trend, a completely different development can be seen. Evangelical churches are springing up here and there, almost bursting at the seams because of the enormous growth they are experiencing. Some examples of growing churches are the Meerkerk in Hoofddorp, the Pijler in Lelystad and the Bethel in Drachten. These churches have literally thousands of members, which means they regularly need a new building. What makes these churches (or congregations as they call themselves) so different from the emptying traditional churches? Four factors are mentioned below: contemporary services, radical preaching, attention and involvement and appealing programs.

Contemporary services

Evangelical congregations do not like singing at the church organ. The service is flashy and contemporary. There is a band on stage that performs Dutch and English up-tempo songs. The loud music is mainly aimed at younger visitors. There is an appealing light installation and a projector on which the songs are projected. More often than not, a drama is performed and the sermon fits in with the visitors’ living environment.

Radical preaching

You would think that love is mainly preached in these churches. Nothing is less true; Much attention is paid to reading the Bible and applying the Biblical lessons to daily life. As a member of an evangelical church, it is almost impossible to attend church without obligation. You are called to action in the form of giving, prayer and volunteerism. Faith influences your entire life. It is not just something for Sundays, but it also affects your work, your relationship, your free time and your finances. This has less pleasant consequences for some members. Cohabitation, sex before marriage and children out of wedlock are not allowed in many evangelical churches.

Attention and involvement

A member of an evangelical church does not go unnoticed. This starts with the baptism service, in which every new member must introduce themselves. Furthermore, everyone is expected to visit a circle every two weeks. In addition to Bible study, a lot of time is also spent getting to know each other, praying for each other, encouraging each other and helping where necessary. In addition, many members also have a task in their municipality, which allows them to meet many new people and expand their network. Active involvement and attention for each other is required from every member.

Appealing programs

Being church at an evangelical church does not only consist of going to church on Sundays. There are also all kinds of appealing activities for members and visitors during the week. Some examples of this are courses, recovery programs, the aforementioned circles and activities for young people. On Sundays there is an attractive program for children, which is on par with the adult service. Evangelical congregations are therefore often visited by families with young children.