Population: 16.8 million (2013)
Official language: Dutch
Major religion: Christianity
IFES movement: IFES-Nederland
Christians in the Netherlands have freedom to express their faith, but this has resulted in a proliferation of new churches and a lack of unity. In this context students have the potential to be bridge builders in their communities.
The Dutch society in general is in crisis in many respects (political, financial, environmental), in large part because the long-standing moral foundation of Christianity has all but disappeared. The crises offer a great opportunity to show the relevance of the gospel.
- 23 university cities, all with IFES-Nederland groups
- 34 part-time employees, around 75 volunteers
- biggest group in Delft (270 members), average group size, 70 members
- smallest group in Den Haag (5 members)
IFES-Nederland has seen an increase in both the number of staff and of local volunteer workers: the movement is well on their way to having active workers present on almost every campus in major cities. The presence of a worker in a city has helped students recognize and identify themselves with the IFES group there and increased a sense of fellowship.
View from the inside
Gerbert Hengelaar is the National Director of IFES-Nederland. He says, ‘We are in a time of opportunities to show the relevance of the gospel again on the Dutch universities. The current generation of students is largely post-secular. The negative attitude towards faith from the recent past has gone. Also, this generation of students is struggling with the vast number of opportunities they have as well as strong pressure on them because of increasing youth unemployment. I hope we can equip new generations of Christian students who can witness in this context through their deeds as well as their words.
‘The largest barrier to achieving this vision might be both the church and also the IFES movement. Although we have been talking about evangelism in the past decade, in general we are still quite inward-focused and weakened in terms of numbers and resources. The IFES movement itself is in a crucial phase. In the past decade, it has been blessed with growth in funding and staff; however currently we are however struggling to sustain this growth. We need to strengthen our core and lay new foundations to ensure our future impact.’
- for staff workers to encourage students to ‘own’ their ministry;
- for unity in Christ, both in universities and across the country.