Mark: Thanks for joining me, Marian. Let's get right to the conversation. What is your experience as a Christian living in the Netherlands?
To be honest, I do not believe things are worse in Holland. In Belgium are very little Protestant Christians. Likewise for Germany and England. I did not investigate it, but I think there used to be more Christians in Holland – especially Protestant. But today the decline is notable compared to the other European countries.
Mark: Is the trend of church closings more indicative of mainline Protestant and Catholic Churches or is it across all denominations, including evangelical churches? Is the Dutch evangelical church strong?
Marian: Both Protestant and Catholic churches are closing. Evangelical churches seem to grow some, but they are far from strong – partly because people from all Christian backgrounds AND former non-believers go to Evangelical churches, resulting in little stability in the doctrine (a mix of Reformed-, Baptist-, and Pentecostal doctrine). Sound Evangelical theology is hard to find.
There are Evangelical Bible schools, but they suffer the same fate as stated above concerning the doctrine. Some American Evangelical books are translated into Dutch, but unfortunately not the best. Also, there is little coherence in the Evangelical churches. People move from one church to the other to escape issues in the former church, hoping to find something better. But after having changed a couple of times, they often do not go anymore at all because they are hurt.
Mark: Do you see a reversal in the secular trend within the Netherlands? If so, how are evangelicals involved and/or driving it?
Marian: No, Holland is getting more and more secular. It is very hard to talk about the Lord Jesus and the Cross. Being a (New Age) believer is okay, but do not mention the One Real God, or you will find grim faces and rejection.
Evangelical churches (what I have heard and seen of them) are trying to win people with music, dance, etc. But there is little interest and time left for what really matters—the preaching of the Cross and study of the Bible.
Mark's Note: I found Marian's comment: "People move from one church to the other" very interesting. It appears that church hopping among European Christians is just as prevalent as it this on side of the pond. The website beliefnet cited a study from the Barna Research Group that found one out of every seven adults changes churches each year. But that's a topic for another post.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Marian. I know we'll visit again.
Please check out Marian's book on Amazon.
Heaven is not Far