Reflections from the Netherlands

To cap off this year at Dordt, I, and the fifty-five other members of Concert Choir, left the country to sing in the Netherlands for twelve days. Our concert tour brought us to cities such as Katwijk, Kapelle, Hasselt, and Dordt’s progenitor, Dordrecht. We sampled some amazing foods (like kroketten, kibbling, smoked eel, raw and pickled herring, fresh Gouda cheese, and warm poffertjes) and stayed with some delightful host families (who talked late into the night about politics, sports, drugs, the justice system, food, language, and fishing). It was the experience of a lifetime.

But the cathedrals – oh, the cathedrals! I could have sat in any one of them for an entire day and been completely content. We sang in one that had seventy-foot-tall, original 16th century stained glass windows. We sang in one that had a nine-second reverberation time. And we sang in one that was built eight hundred years ago (almost four times as old as our country)!

I was utterly grieved, however, to learn that the majority of those cathedrals sit empty on Sunday mornings, now relegated to the position of museums or tourist attractions. These incredible monuments of the Christian faith, in which God’s praises have been sung for over five hundred years, are now echoless and silent. This is largely the result of a widespread decline of Christianity in the Netherlands. Only 40% of the population claims Christian affiliation.

My comfort is that the church congregations with which we interacted were vibrant and flourishing. My exhortation is twofold: First, pray for the Church of Holland. Second, don’t let our generation be the one that drops the ball in America. Each year, church attendance moves closer to that of the Netherlands. Let’s stop that from happening.

So, be encouraged that the small but powerful Church in Holland is vibrant, and be diligent to go to church every week – we cannot fully comprehend its importance until we see such a stark example of its absence.