For over 50 years, the Château in St. Albain, France, has been used to host people, events, and most importantly gospel-centered conversations.Now the ministry is returning to its original purpose by focusing on creative outreach to the young people of France and all of Europe.
A historic castle located in a small town, the Château serves as a bridge into the French community. The Château not only provides a venue for Christian organizations to host their events, but also organizes a dozen or so events itself, including Christmas outreach events, Biblical training weekends, soccer programs, and family retreats.
The Château has seen many eras of ministry and is on the cusp of entering the next.
The shift in focus is spearheaded by the Château’s new director, Nicolas Alphonso (pictured, left, with wife Nancy and children Samuel and Esther), who joined the ministry in September of 2016. As a native of France, Nicolas brings many years of experience with local culture. But more than that, he has a passionate vision to reach the youth of France.
France has one of the lowest percentages of Evangelical Christians in the world, which is why ministry centers like the Château have a vital role to play. The Château provides a neutral location where Christians can spend time with those who don’t yet know Jesus. Since the Château’s surrounding community is predominantly young people, the shift to focus on this new generation fits perfectly.
Nicolas says, “The next generation is searching desperately for spiritual answers. They are also searching in all the wrong places. I would like to use the Château to show these young people that you can be joyful and have fun while being Christian. I want the Château to be a center where students can experience Jesus!”
The Château team realizes that shifting their focus means adjusting their approach.
The Château has always been a great place for young people to hang out, but Nicolas believes that it will take more than just open doors to reach the next generation. “We have to find new ways to connect with this generation. Whether it be sports, music, or technology, we need to make bridges.”
Observing the young people in the village, Nicolas has seen their innate desire to connect. This first caught his attention last year when the Pokemon Go app was gaining popularity around the world. He saw loads of young people walking miles and miles around the village to find Pokemon and other Pokemon players. He realized the Château needed to begin to utilize these kinds of opportunities.
The Château team wants to not only begin to engage youth using pre-existing platforms like Pokemon Go, but they also want to begin developing tools for other churches to use. Nicolas believes partnering with the local churches and providing them with opportunities to reach young people will multiply their efforts.
The Château has been bridging the gap between the church and the world for decades.
If the Château wants to see changes in France’s future, they must engage the next generation. This new shift in ministry is not a change in their mission but a continuation of the ultimate desire of the Château: to plant the seeds of the gospel in the hard soils of France. — from www.encompassworldpartners.org