From 1 church to 2150 churches in 7 years

You can read more about the Geneva mission to France in Jean-Marc Berthoud's paper at the Westminster Conference in 1992. He quotes those amazing church planting figures as being originally given by Coligny to Catherine de Medici in the 1560s.

There are various factors that contributed to this amazing growth:

1) The humanists and pre-reformers had encouraged the people to read and study the Bible, and the Bible had been preached within Catholic churches in France.

2) The Genevan mission to France was delayed for some years while the Geneva church itself was being properly constituted. (It was a struggle!)

3) Meanwhile there were many Bible study groups established across France. Many of these groups became fully fledged churches during those amazing 7 years.

4) Calvin encouraged the Christians of France to yield to persecution. They followed his policy of non-resistance for some years and God blessed the churches with amazing growth. Later, with the outbreak of organised warfare against them, they defied Calvin's advice and fought, and things were never as good again.

5) The figures of 1 -> 2150 are the numbers of dressed churches. What we might call Bible study groups, house fellowships or fellowship groups were known as planted churches - they were not fully constituted and had no pastor. A dressed church had an eldership and a pastor. So in part the figures represented the putting in order of the baby churches.

It is good to reflect on these factors and to try to draw lessons from them, but still we have to simply worship the God who blessed his people so greatly in those days!


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