The Missional Future of Free Churches in a Secular Context: A German Case Study

Stefan Paas, Philipp Bartholomä

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Similar to most Western nations, Germany has experienced a history of secularization, resulting in church decline. However, some Christian communities have been less affected by decline. The historical free churches (Freikirchen), usually of an evangelical nature, have not only developed a more explicit missionary identity than the mainline churches, some of them have also been able to experience church growth against the larger trends. In this paper quantitative and qualitative data are presented based on a study of the Bund Freier evangelischer Gemeinden (BFeG) in Germany. These data show that general church growth and conversion growth are correlated, that young churches grow better (in both respects) than older churches, that the net conversion growth (conversions minus decline) of younger and older churches is overall largely the same, and that growth results in Berlin outperform the results in other cities and in the BFeG as a whole. These results are put into context by extended case studies of two churches, one old and one young, and they are discussed with a view to existing studies of (free church) mission in the West.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Empirical Theology : JET
Issue number2
Early online date14 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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