Publication Date

Spring 1998


In 1996, I spent four months studying in what was formerly East Berlin. During that time, I met people from across the United States as well as Germany. I made many friends who are either agnostic or atheist. The reasons for these beliefs among Americans were most often based on negative experiences with a church, anger towards God because of various tragedies, or on a misunderstanding of Christianity. In my conversations with citizens of the former East Germany, I discovered that their communist beliefs did not allow them room for loyalty to the Church or even to God; as one acquaintance told me, "I am a Communist. I believe in me." It was through conversation with such individuals that I began to see the vital need for change in the Church. In Germany, members of churches are usually over 50. In the U.S., "non-denominational" churches are attempting to attract college students by modifying their programs to fit students' lifestyles; but there is also a lot of resentment toward these churches, making "Christian" seem like a dirty word. I discovered that many similar efforts to make the church "youth-friendly" have been made in Germany and throughout Europe, receiving mixed reactions.



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