Andy and Uta Buckler are our overseas mission partners serving in France, with Andy taking a leadership role in the French Protestant church, a role which focuses heavily on encouraging evangelism by the churches to their local area.
After last year, it is perhaps not surprising then that spiritual searching is also on the increase. Recent studies have indicated that some 40% of the population are actively involved in some sort of spiritually based activity. These are extremely varied, but two things seem clear. While on the one hand, few people are turning to traditional forms of church in their searching, there is a real desire to explore questions within a Christian framework if the opportunity is given in an open, respectful and welcoming context.
The Buckler’s regularly hear of town and city churches who are surprised to discover people turning up, simply because the doors are open and a genuine welcome offered. This is relatively new and a source of great encouragement. However, few churches in France have the missional mind-set to be able to build on these opportunities. Many churches (especially in the traditional protestant church) are still more preoccupied with their own internal affairs than with proclaiming Christ in today's hurting, confused society. Please pray with them that local French churches of all persuasions might be captivated afresh by the Good News of the Kingdom and be able to seize the amazing opportunities that they have to reach out to others in hope and love.
Andy is being increasingly called upon to teach and coordinate the developing vision for local church growth. Since the beginning of the year, it really feels like the message is beginning to get through and it is encouraging to see local churches take fresh initiatives in mission and outreach. This is very new for the church - do pray that it will be the start of real spiritual renewal.
Recently, the Buckler’s have been testing a new missional training program for local churches. Six to seven churches in the Paris area will be running the course - please pray that this bears fruit. At the same time, a number of new church planting opportunities are opening up, in particular in Brittany and on the south coast (La Grande Motte). Praise God for providing evangelists for these - do pray as these projects launch in 2016. Pray also for an ongoing church planting project in Creteil (south of Paris).