BERNE, Switzerland — A pastor who is also a sociologist of religion at Lausanne University said that evangelical churches are attracting twice as many worshippers on Sundays as traditional Protestant churches in Switzerland because it understand people’s needs.
“The key strength of the Pentecostal movement is the idea that God intervenes in people’s everyday lives,” Olivier Favre, pastor of two charismatic churches in Payerne and Neuchâtel, told swissinfo.ch on Sunday.
Favre attributes the growth of evangelical churches to people’s loneliness in “our very individualized society” and to “the very modern style of worship.”
The idea of a personal relationship with God, belief that He answers prayers, that He can heal the sick and effect miracles meets a spiritual need, even as the style of worship attracts young people, Favre said while acknowledging that that people living in insecurity may be more attracted by this notion than those who are comfortably off.
Report states about one-third of the 7.8 million people in Switzerland are registered members of the Swiss Reformed Church. Favre, who served as pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Lausanne for 14 years, said migrant populations, such as that of Africans and South Americans, have also contributed to the growth of evangelical churches.
The pastor said the evangelical language is evolving and adapting to actual needs, placing less emphasis on sin and repentance than on personal growth and development. However, he clarified that evangelicals take a critical look at society and incorporate only what they find the best. A religious movement needs to be balanced, he said.
The pastor also said while evangelicals are accused of simplifying their message, they also have intellectuals and highly qualified people, “people who reflect and who see life as being more complex.” He went on to say that the evangelicals in Switzerland are conservative from an individual moral standpoint, but “very progressive on social issues such as ecology, with a simple respect for creation.”
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