A new approach to reaching young people with the Gospel

A youth event considering the appeal of pornography in society

ICF is an exciting and innovative way of doing church which is growing quickly throughout Europe.

Since the first church was started in Zurich in 1996, the movement has spread rapidly and now has 40 churches in 8 different European countries, mostly in Switzerland, with plans to start up in several other countries.   With a lively worship style, youthful leadership and up to date use of technology, they are attracting a large number of young people wherever they set up.

ICF’s youngest church leader is Christian Gfeller, who started a new church in Schaffhausen just two years ago, which has already grown to some 200 people worshipping  God in three separate Sunday services.  When Syzygy met Christian at a conference recently, he explained that their vision is to bring people back to church by letting them see that church can be dynamic, relevant and contemporary.  This, he believes, is what attracts people who are not accustomed to thinking of church as anything other than old-fashioned, irrelevant and boring.

Christian Gfeller

ICF has a strong ‘corporate identity’ (to use their own words!)which clearly cascades right through the movement.  Quality and fun manage to walk hand in hand.  In their desire to be relevant, they are willing to change things, be experimental, and take risks.  They’re also committed to planting new churches.  By the time a church grows to 350 members, they’re already thinking about moving to multi-site meetings to enable the growth to continue.  This has attracted attention in the Swiss press, which can’t quite get its head around the fact that church can be fun and Christians can have an infectious zest for life.

Surprisingly, the bulk of the church growth has not come from disaffected Christians leaving other churches and joining ICF.  Christian says that only about 10% of the members of his church in Schaffhausen joined from other churches.  Half the members had been churchgoers as children but had long since ceased attending, and the remainder were mainly unchurched.

Asked about the sort of social work that the church does, Christian  explained, The biggest social work we do is offer community. This may well be the key to why ICF is bucking the trend among young people, who research shows are increasingly disinterested in church while becoming more open to exploring their spirituality.  In an age when many young people have to cope with social dislocation and fractured families, offering them a loving and committed Christian community may just be the way to reach a generation for Christ.

You can find out more about ICF at www.icf-movement.org