Each year, the German Book Exchange (Börsenblatt des Deutschen Buchhandels) publishes statistics concerning the sale of books in Germany. Those for 2010 have been published today (4th March) and prove interesting reading for Christians. Since 2009, there has been an all round increase of 18.4 percent sales in Christian books. Bible-buying has gone up by 14.6 percent.

     There has also been an increase of 0.7 per cent on Jewish literature and 2.9 percent on other non-Christian religious books. Sales of dictionaries of religions have dropped by 11.6 percent and prayer and hymnbooks by 6 percent.

     Coupled with this, there is a marked increase in the number of young people who wish to study theology. For instance, the Martin Bucer Seminar in Bonn with whom I am attached, has recently founded well-attended theological training colleges throughout all the German speaking countries, Northern, Eastern and Western Europe and Turkey. Two of our Turkish co-workers were martyred recently by militant Islamists.

     Though there are markedly fewer church-goers in Germany today compared with, say, twenty years ago, the bulk of those who have lost faith with the churches are Roman Catholics whereas there is now a slight plus amongst Protestant congregations. Sadly, the richer the Protestant churches get, the more they complain of lack of funds. Many pastors work on a half-pay basis and their wives must find employment elsewhere. Now churches advertise pastoral posts for married couples so that they can obtain two for the price of one. It is a common practice in our churches in North-Rhine-Westphalia to see ministers of the gospel having to care for their infant children whilst performing their pastoral duties. Members are of divided opinions on this matter.

George M. Ella, Mülheim