06 Jun 2013
"There is a large group of sceptics and atheists in Austria who are against the church."
Austria is thought to be 'spiritually empty', with all the main churches reporting a decline in attendance year after year. There are only 40,000 evangelical Christians in the whole country.
But one young leader believes that the younger generation is more open to the gospel than it first seems. As a business student in Vienna, 25 year old Christian carried out a survey amongst his fellow students and discovered that many were keen to get to know God more.
"Before I did the survey, I thought only a small minority were interested in faith," says Christian (pictured above). "But I discovered that there's actually a large group of people in Austria who are open to God."
So Christian set about leading a small team to respond to the survey. He wanted to give those around him opportunities to hear the gospel in ways that made sense.
"In Austria, many churches either host 'soft' events to get to know people but that don't mention faith at all, or the opposite - hardcore evangelistic events with an altar call.
"There are not many events that are friendly and open, where people feel comfortable and where they don’t need a crash course in weird Christian language to fit in."
So Christian organised a series of free breakfasts for students at what is Europe’s largest business university. 30 students, most of whom are not yet Christians, came to discuss relevant topics such as 'I achieve, therefore I am'.
One participant was really impressed at how useful the gospel-centred discussions were for his context. "This is my seventh semester at the university and I have never heard a lecture as helpful as what I heard this morning."
Another emailed months after the breakfasts finished, to say, "I've just been to a church service but the atmosphere was not as good as what we had at the breakfasts."
"I want to organise more events like this, but ones that are right for different contexts," says Christian.
He sees that an event that is successful in one place might look different in another setting. "The lessons I learnt here will be applied in the future."
We love investing in young leaders like Christian, giving them practical training that applies to the mission they are leading now, and also equips them for the future.
"The training I got was not only useful for the breakfasts. It was useful for my whole life and mission."