Is France “reached”?

Whenever we think about the question of whether Europe is reached or not, France is often the anecdotal story that floats to the top. Is France “reached”?

The classical definition of reached has to do with whether the French church could evangelize France without outside assistance. It’s a difficult question to answer because it can be very subjective. But most people don’t realize that “evangelical churches” (and that’s often what we equate with “can France evangelize itself”) are more widespread than they think.

The French National Council of Evangelicals (CNEF) reports three new evangelical churches open in France every month, and the number of worship places has increased 10x in the past 60 years. There are now over 650,000 evangelical Christians in France. They have been growing for a long time, as this report from 2012 shows.

Every department in France has between 100,000 and 2 million in population, with most in the hundreds of thousands. According to CNEF, there is at least one evangelical church per 100,000 people, and about half of the departments (or more) have 1 evangelical church per 10,000. This is significantly improved over 1970. See:

Some of these churches are small, but some are quite large: one church in Paris gets nearly 6,000 attendees on Sundays. “In fact, French scholars says, evangelicalism is likely the fastest-growing religion in France.”

In 2012, French Protestants made up over 3% of the population. Of these 600,000, 460,000 identify themselves as evangelicals. And that number is growing all the time. It is clear from these numbers that if France doesn’t fit the numeric definition of unreached now (generally, >2% Evangelical), it is not far off.

Here, TEAM cites 1 church per 32,000 as need for more missionaries. Don’t get me wrong, I like TEAM, I’ve sent people to them. But 1 per 32,000 strikes me as a church that could evangelize its own. My own studies suggest a small team (3 to 5 people) using a movement strategy can easily take an audience of 100,000. My friend Roy Moran’s church (Shoal Creek) is taking on 300,000.

So before we take it as given that Europe is “unreached,” let’s be sure to check the real situation out!