It looks like non-"traditional" Christian churches are making an impact in Europe where state-sponsored Christianity is waning.
The Well doesn't gather as one large group in a church building but rather as a few smaller groups in cafÃ©s and restaurants. That's in part because we don't actually own a building. But there's a purpose behind this, too: It's far less intimidating for newcomers to visit a public space with a dozen or so other people than a normal "church" with pews and a steeple and a hundred strange faces. In the course of our gatherings, we also meet people who were just going out for coffee and probably wouldn't have wandered into a sanctuary along the way.
This emphasis on the nontraditional is intentional. For many of the Europeans I've met here, it's not God who is dead to them as much as it is The Church--the official, often state-supported church, be it Catholic, Anglican or Lutheran. Now new life is being infused into these churches by missionaries from America and even Africa.
Some of the elements in The Well--and its sister churches in Madrid, Amsterdam and other European cities--that are deemed unusual here would seem familiar to American Christians: worship songs that sound like rock 'n' roll rather than 18th-century hymns; discussions focusing on a personal relationship with God rather than a list of do's and don'ts. But other elements would seem out of place even in cool U.S. churches. Holding services in a microbrewery is an effective way to hammer home the point that church doesn't have to be the way it always has been.
The message is getting out. A mostly American and British group at first, The Well now regularly attracts people from Belgium, France, Holland, Portugal, Romania, Bulgaria, Ghana and Lebanon. Some wouldn't be attending church if The Well didn't exist.
Interesting developments. I'll be in prayer for these European Christians.