In today’s world, Amsterdam is known primarily for its beautiful canals and picturesque architecture, along with the progressive cultural and political trends of gay marriage, legalized drug use and the famous “red-light district”. However, the history of Amsterdam is one woven with the unseen hands of God and littered with stories of the religious history of the Church in Europe.
A Colorful and Deep History
Although Catholic for much of its history, Amsterdam became a Calvinist stronghold during the Protestant Reformation, and those two streams of the church still mix today with many Protestant churches meeting in old Catholic places of worship. Did you know that the oldest English-speaking church congregation outside of the United Kingdom is found in the Begijnhof in the heart of Amsterdam?
What we see in Amsterdam is a colorful and deep history of Church influence mixed with a rapidly growing and voracious secularism that seeks to see that religious influence squashed. And, just like many places around the world where the Gospel is actively being attacked, we find in Amsterdam a city full of people who are being wooed by a God who loves them with a passionate and pursuing love.
The pastor of Crossroads church in Amsterdam stated that roughly 20% of his weekly attenders are seekers who are interested in knowing more about Christianity and the Christ we profess. What does that tell us? It tells us that even in the midst of a dark time in Christian history in a deeply secular Europe that God is drawing to himself those who he wants to save and bring glory to himself through this process. The Gospel will not be deterred, and the city of Amsterdam is ripe to see a harvest of people come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
With over 800,000 people in the heart of the city and over 2.4 million in the greater metropolitan area, Amsterdam contains a population where 87% of its people speak English. Trade, business and educational institutions cause this number to be so high, and while anyone planning on planting a church in Amsterdam should strive to learn Dutch as a part of their missional outreach, any English speaker will feel comfortable in the Amsterdam setting.
During our feasibility study in Amsterdam we found a city that is bursting with potential and ripe for a church to be planted within its borders. A wide range of Christian organizations and other churches stand ready to support an English-speaking church plant, and they all value the mindset of seeing the body of Christ as One Church, standing together to see the Gospel move forward within Amsterdam.
With that being said, Amsterdam is still very much a city beholden to the secular worldview of much of its inhabitants, and any church plant within the city will find a mix reactions from cold skepticism to outright antagonism. It is a city that God loves deeply, but it is a city locked in the grip of sin.
How You Can be Involved
So, what can you do now that you have learned more about Amsterdam and seen the need for an English-speaking church within this beautiful city? Three things:
- Pray. More than anything else, we need to lift up the city of Amsterdam before our God. We need to pray that a revival will take place and that he will provide ministers of the Gospel to take the Good News into a city that so desperately needs it. Ask that God do a mighty work within Amsterdam and pray that he prepares the people to receive the Gospel of reconciliation.
- Ask what God would have you do. Is God calling you to be a financial supporter of an English-speaking church in Amsterdam? Is he asking you to leverage your contacts and resources in way that will help a church plant become a reality in the city? Ask God to search your heart and break it for the lost in Amsterdam, and then ask that he will show you how to be a part of making this church a reality.
- Consider being a church planter in Amsterdam. We all know that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, and this is true especially in the very dark and secular places of Europe. Is God calling you to lay down your life in order to lift up his name in a Amsterdam? Prayerfully consider this question and lay it before the Lord in prayer so that he may give you discernment and wisdom.
The city of Amsterdam has been given a green light for English-language church planting. Now we need to find the right people to spearhead a movement that can help ignite the flame of the Gospel in Amsterdam, Northern Europe and the world. We ask that you consider what you have read today, share it with your friends and family, and lift up this effort before God that he may prepare the path and bring the laborers so that we can see the people of Amsterdam come to know Jesus as their savior and see the name of God glorified among the nations.