Why France (or French-speaking)?
There is a lot of spiritual need in the French-speaking world.
Although the country of France is dotted with cathedrals, the contemporary spiritual condition of the country is not strong. Evangelical Christians are just under 1% of the population as of 2012. Moreover, currently there are more pastors nearing retirement than pastors entering the pastorate.
Half of the top-10 fastest growing countries in Africa have French as an official language and the need for theological training, equipping and ministry will continue. There is tremendous potential as the church grows in the French-speaking countries of Africa and brings strong Christian influence to Europe through immigration.
Strong local churches are growing in France and the growth is providing a strategic opportunity. In 1970, there were 770 evangelical churches. In 2012, there were 2,112. The increase in church planting in the recent years could indicate that the church will continue to grow and gain influence in the French culture.
The growth of the church brings opportunities and challenges. To encourage churches to have a strong theological vision centered around the gospel, Evangile21 was recently launched– inspired and in partnership with the Gospel Coalition. The Bible Institute of Geneva has offered bi-annual conferences, increasing mutual encouragement and ministry from Americans, British and French evangelical leaders that have brought together many pastors together from across France.
These efforts, and many more, are encouraging to see. Jesus is being known more and more in France. But this growth also increases the need for strong pastoral training and ministry. And there is much more work to be done. There are still many communities in France that have no strong presence of a healthy local church.