EVIA, Greece – European evangelicals were told not to lose their passion for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ on the first full day of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA)'s annual assembly in Greece this week.
Dr. Derek Copley, an EEA Associate, led the Wednesday afternoon forum of general secretaries from across Europe's various national-level evangelical alliances, stressing the need for a "gospel intentionality" behind all works of compassion.
While he praised churches for running fringe activities that care for the marginalized and people in need, Copley criticized churches for failing to use such activities as opportunities to reach people for Christ.
"There really must be a passion for the gospel even when we are doing humanitarian and social works," he said.
"Transformation has to be proclamation as well as a demonstration of the power of Jesus Christ."
Youth, mission overseas, prayer and evangelism at home emerged as top priorities for European evangelicals during the meeting.
To avert serious decline in church numbers, the general secretaries were encouraged to unite with Christians already working in youth outreach and to train young people to "multiply themselves" through one-to-one evangelism.
Copley said the national evangelical alliances had to take the lead in encouraging churches to re-establish "gospel priorities" in Europe and teaching believers how to take risks for the gospel again.
"We have to get churches back into the habit of witnessing Jesus Christ," he stressed.
"Some evangelical alliances have lost their passion for reaching people without Christ. Others have simply been diverted," Copley noted.
"I want to see us be not simply an influence in Europe. I want to see the gospel re-gain ground in Europe."
Evangelicals gathered from across Europe this week to take part in the European Evangelical Alliance's annual assembly, which opened on Tuesday with a call to prayer for Turkey. The gathering was scheduled to conclude with its closing communion Friday evening.