Mission leaders assess Swiss involvement in Joshua Project 2000

Luis Bush
Zurich, November 5, 1996

On November 5 a full days program was organized for a national consultation on missions and especially Joshua Project 2000. Ueli Haldemann, the leader of the Swiss national strategy development FocuSuisse took the initiative to invite mission agency leaders and pastors. The event was cosponsored by AEM (the Association of Evangelical Missions) which involves 31 member missions. It was working consultation at which some 70 leaders came to assess what involvement Switzerland would have in Joshua Project 2000.

Working groups reported on the perspectives of their groups that indicated a clear consensus to: 1) Pursue a common vision of the church and mission in Switzerland with regard to the peoples of Joshua Project 2000, 2) Recruit a person full time to research current involvement by mission agencies and Christian organizations in the Joshua Project 2000 peoples and recommend a goal to the mission and church leaders.

The list of more than 1700 Joshua Project 2000 peoples was translated into German as well as other materials related to Joshua project 2000.

Status of the church in Switzerland

Overview of facts

There are 1800 state (reformed and Catholic) churches and 1200 free churches in Switzerland. About 6% of the population are church goers, 2% of the population are evangelical. The state church is experiencing a serious decline in church attenders. The fastest growing larger denomination is the Evangelical Free Church at 6% per year which has a strong vision to the year 2000.

Encouraging developments

  1. Church planting awareness growing
  2. Research of presence of church in towns and villages almost completed. Published results thus far showing towns and villages over 1000 have already created a burden to see a church there.
  3. Symposium of status of church across broad lines of church in Switzerland to take place next week.
  4. FocuSuisse has served the church in Switzerland for three years assisting in the development of a common strategy for Switzerland. It is helping in the understanding of church growth and why some churches are on the decline.

Some concerns expressed

  1. Absence of youth from the local churches
  2. Number of people applying to Bible schools is dropping significantly
  3. Denominational structure members are not following their leaders
  4. Older generation in the churches inflexible to change. of methods in churches.

Status of Missions in Switzerland

There are about 1400 missionaries on the field 800 who serve in 31 mission agencies associated with the Association of evangelical Missions of Switzerland. Proportionately Switzerland ranks in the top five countries with the highest ration of missionary to population.

The primary obstacles expressed to effective mission work were the individualistic approach to doing missions that reflects the Swiss character of being somewhat of an introvert. In addition while there is a strong sense of duty missions is caught up in daily operational performance rather than being driven by clear vision of what must be done.

GCOWE '95 influence

Switzerland sent a delegation of 36 to Seoul, Korea for the global consultation held in May 1995. This represented the second highest delegation proportionate to population. It also represented a wide spectrum of highly respected leaders. Meetings held before and after resulted in this being more than just one more conference. Delegation coordinator Ueli Haldemann said: It was a major breakthrough. Some of the results include the following: 1) the launching of the Round Table where key leaders are invited to come together three times a year for fellowship and to discuss important issues affecting their mistiness, 2) See Switzerland in the context of the church around the world which brought a spirit of conviction and repentance, 3) Call for a major prayer focus. The group convened pastors and leaders for a day of prayer in September. Surprisingly, 450 came and experienced a real sense of the presence of God. 4) An acute awareness of the challenge of the 10/40 Window which resulted in the convening of the Consultation on Mission into the 10/40 Window and Joshua Project 2000 held November 5, 1996. 5) Individual lives of participants deeply touched . One of the participants who participated in Distinguished Leaders meeting was businessman Juerg Opprecht. Juerg owned a canning factory. His life was changed by the experience. He now leads the emerging global track on business executives of the AD2000 & beyond Movement and is planning on the gathering of 500 business executives form 100 countries to participate in a consultation at GCOWE 97 to be held June/July in South Africa.

Thanks be to God for His grace.
Luis Bush

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