To be more specific, 0.2%. That is the number of people in Poland who are part of evangelical churches.
Ninety percent (90%) of the counties in Poland do not have an evangelical church. On the map of Poland below, the white spots are counties that do not have a Bible-believing church that emphasizes the need for being born again by faith alone.
"Most people in Poland do not have the blessing of having access to the local [evangelical] church," writes ITMI's Andrew Gorski.
Most churches that do exist are small.
In a study conducted by ITMI's Evangelical Poland, where 354 evangelical pastors were surveyed, only 11% of those churches had more than 100 people attending meetings. Fifty-three percent of the respondents said that attendance at their church's meetings does not exceed 40 people.
Sometimes these small churches are without leaders or don't have a pastor but are led by some other kind of leader, like an elder.
In the Evangelical Poland study, the most frequently mentioned cause of the fall or liquidation of a church, mentioned by 41% of respondents, was the incompetence of the leader or the lack of the leader's presence (70% of the survey respondents worked full-time while developing their church).
Think about these numbers for a minute, and how difficult it would be just to hold Sunday meetings regularly, much less equip people to make disciples and share the Gospel with these kinds of numbers.
How many weeks out of a month would each person be called on to set up the meeting space or serve in the children's ministry in order to hold Sunday meetings? How would such a small group pay to rent a place to meet?
For such a small amount of people, how many options do you think there are for curriculum for children's ministry? The market is likely too small to entice many quality authors to create a children's Sunday School curriculum.
"The small population of evangelicals that does exist works independently of each other with few collaborative efforts and no collective vision. This has led the church to have little impact or influence on the greater population with most of the Polish population unaware of and misinformed about the evangelical church," writes Andrew.
With so few Evangelical Christians, many serve in multiple ministry capacities, often while working full-time and raising families because the financial power of such a minority group is not strong enough to support many full-time salaries.
For example, ITMI's Piotr Zaremba is a church planting pastor as well as a Bible translator, and teaches courses on Biblical topics at a university and two seminaries. ITMI's Richard Nungesser serves as the co-founder overseeing all of Bread of Life's many outreaches and operations, as well as the pastor of Poznan International Church.
ITMI's Janusz Fredyk leads Gniezno Baptist Church while working a full-time job to support his family. ITMI's Tomek Jezyk ministers full time with Bread of Life, but stepped in to shepherd Kalisz Baptist Church because they were struggling and without a pastor.
Darek Banicki pastors a Baptist church in a city 18 miles from Gniezno, the city he lives in, and preaches once a month to support another Baptist church in Poznan, as well as working alongside Piotr Zaremba as the President of the Evangelical Biblical Institute and working as the headmaster of a large high school in Gniezno.
ITMI's Andrew Gorski oversees Gospel Joy Workshops and Evangelism and Discipleship, Evangelical Poland, and is heavily involved with the church plant, Amazing Grace Church.
Their bandwidth is maxed out and there is still so much to do to reach and make disciples.
With the most of Poland unaware of or misinformed about the evangelical church, for years, they were viewed as a cult, feared, and ostracized. Traditional methods of outreach were poorly attended by anyone outside the church.
Though it would seem this is beginning to change, this is still a challenge the church faces regularly.
Because of our supporters' generosity and faithfulness, ITMI has been involved in making disciples in Poland for decades. We've chosen to prioritize serving and empowering Polish believers and their churches to make disciples.
They are better equipped than anybody to reach their countrymen. After all, they speak the language, understand the culture, and are cost-effective. They have the best sense of what is truly needed, allowing us to help our donors choose the most impactful ways to use their resources for kingdom purposes.
They can also help us avoid the pitfalls of offering aid that turns out to be harmful rather than helpful.
Over the years, the ways we've been able to serve and empower Polish believers and churches to make disciples who make disciples has included quite a few different things.
To help Polish people understand that Jesus offers a solution to their sin problem, wants a relationship with them, and does not accept religious works as a means to salvation, ITMI partnered with church planter and Bible translator, Piotr Zaremba, provide the Polish-speaking world with a modern Evangelical translation of the Bible.
To help bolster the influence and reach of the Evangelical Church in Poland, we've supported pastors (Piotr Zaremba and K5N Church, Janusz Fredyk and Gniezno Baptist Church, Tomek Jezyk and Kalisz Baptist Church, Leszek Wakula and Lodz Baptist Church, and Richard Nungesser and Poznan International Church), church plants, helped churches with their facilities, and helped fund large scale outreaches (Bread of Life and Gospel Joy Workshops and Evangelism).
The K5N Church, pastored by ITMI's Piotr Zaremba is one of the larger Baptist churches in Poland.
As you look at these photos and videos below, Americans might be tempted to think that this is very similar to their own church, especially if they attend a small church by American standards.
And in some respects, it is. But don't miss the crucial backdrop of the struggle of the evangelical church in Poland. K5N is a thriving church against a backdrop of meager financial resources and manpower, cultural obscurity, and cultural ostracization.
These pictures show something special. The community of believers that is growing, planting other churches, launching outreaches, and thriving in a place and time when it is quite difficult to do so.