Lessons from a secular state:

four ideas to help your church

The Church in France has long faced hostility. After decades of hard work, one BMS couple is seeing people begin to open their hearts to Christ.

John and Sue Wilson have been serving in France with BMS World Mission for 30 years. When they first arrived, they were treated with hostile suspicion. But after years of dedicating their lives to the Church across France, they are seeing fruit, and more people than ever before are coming to Christ. Here’s how John and Sue’s experience in France could help you and your church engage more people.

People worship in a church
The Wilsons committed themselves to using these four ideas in every aspect of their work. Now, their church is bigger than ever before.

1. Pray

It may seem obvious, but we so often forget. Praying about your situation and struggles is one of the most powerful strategies for growing and engaging your church. “Through the people who pray regularly, we have constant support and encouragement,” says John. “Without them, we couldn’t be here.”
Could you create a prayer network that is regularly praying for your church? The benefits could be breathtaking.

Through the people who pray regularly, we have constant support and encouragement

2. Learn to trust

It’s not unusual for churches in France to be investigated by the Government. So, it’s natural that, when a woman who worked for the French Government rang up the Wilsons’ church, they were suspicious. “She had bought a Bible in a shop and didn’t understand it,” says John. “So, she contacted me at the church and asked if she could come to our Bible study.” She could have been spying on the church. John could have turned her away. But he didn’t. Next year, she’s planning to be baptised.
It’s easy to distrust new people, even if you don’t realise you’re doing it. By making a conscious decision to open your heart to new people at your church, you can create a space that is safe and welcoming for all.

It’s really difficult to keep time with them because they spend ages afterwards just chatting together and talking about things

3. Understand the needs of new Christians

For new Christians, getting more involved in church can be a daunting prospect. It’s easy to be put off by people who are confident in their faith. John and Sue saw this happening in their church and decided to do something about it. “The existing Bible study is more for mature Christians,” says Sue. “People who have just come to faith don’t feel able to ask what they might consider obvious questions.” The Wilsons set up another Bible study group specifically for new Christians to explore their faith. And they’re seeing real results!
“It’s really difficult to keep time with them because they spend ages afterwards just chatting together and talking about things,” Sue says. They even ask for homework!
Why not set up a group in your church that specifically makes space for new Christians? It’s a great way to ensure that they have a safe space to ask questions without feeling alienated from the rest of the church.

4. Be patient

John and Sue have seen powerful changes in France. But they’ve been working there for 30 years. Don’t lose heart when you don’t see results straight away. It might take a while to see a real difference in how people are engaging at your church. But keep attempting for God and expecting from him. It might take months, it might take years, but if we humble ourselves, pray and make space for God to work, he will be faithful. Just ask John and Sue!

Please pray for:
1. The Wilsons, that they continue their work in France with the same determination and enthusiasm that they have for the last 30 years.
2. French people who may find it difficult to profess their faith due to France being a secular state—that God would encourage them and empower them with love.
3. BMS mission workers Christine Kling, Claire-Lise and David Judkins and Philip and Rosemary Halliday, who, like the Wilsons, are currently working to strengthen the Church in France.
4. UK churches who might be struggling to engage members of their church family.

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Posted on: November 09 2018

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