Freedom brought good progress. Doors for the gospel remain open! However, freedom also brought dangers like greed for material goods, selfish pleasure-seeking, and a belief that traditional morals have no value. Substance abuse, suicide, and trafficking of women for prostitution all damage the social foundations. Spiritual transformation must accompany economic growth. Lithuania was the last European nation to be Christianized. Pray that God will bring massive social change through His people!
Catholicism retains a crucial role in Lithuanian society, but has not fully emerged from old ways of thinking to embrace its potential for godly influence in society. Pray that the Catholic Church uses its significant influence to draw people to Christ. Only one-sixth of Catholics attend church weekly. Fellowship with and acceptance of other Christian groups must be improved. Several Franciscan, charismatic and evangelical-style networks in the Church bring young leadership, new thinking and fresh spirituality; pray for their further growth.
The other confessions of Christianity also face many challenges:
- Traditional groups (Lutheran, Reformed and Orthodox) are struggling just to maintain their numbers, as are most denominations. The Orthodox are almost exclusively ethnic Russians; other traditional groups are mostly Lithuanian. Lutherans desire to see their Pietistic heritage renewed. Pray for new life in these historic groups.
- Baptists, Pentecostals and Adventists, the more established of the evangelicals in Lithuania, have struggles of their own. Retained traditions, which saw them through the Soviet era, must be balanced with the spiritual and organizational needs of a new era. Pray for new spiritual impetus for these faithful groups.
- Newer Pentecostal and charismatic churches grew quickly in the last decade through dynamic spirituality combined with active outreach and ministry. Growth looks set to continue; but against this backdrop, quality discipleship of new believers is key. Pray also for these churches to become genuinely indigenous, not just carbon copies of popular Western expressions of the Church.
- All believers. Some low-level prejudice against new religious groups exists, and there is still a widespread perception that evangelicals are a sect. Leaders and congregations must gain a greater understanding of their own evangelical faith before they can assert it in a broader context. The rapid growth of the early '90s has passed, and pastors are kept busy with pastoral responsibilities. Pray for God to raise up those gifted in evangelism.
- Evangelical unity. There is still no Evangelical Alliance in Lithuania. Increased cooperation and demonstrable unity are essential if evangelicals are to have a greater impact on the nation.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.