Between 1870 and 1905, the evangelical synods of the Reformed church were established in the Drôme region, the Ardèche, and on the plateau of the Haute-Loire, forming the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth synodal circonscriptions. The Reformed evangelical Protestants formed numerous communities, not only in remote villages of the mountains and on the plains, but also in the bourgs and small villages of the valleys. There they found themselves among Reformed progressives (25% of the communities), as well as the dissident free-churchers, Methodists, and Darbyites originating from the religious revivals of the first half of the nineteenth century.
The protection of the “small flock” (petit troupeau) was a priority in synodical reflection. Secularization was progressing, especially among men; the demographic shift stemming from rural to urban migration left Protestants isolated in a hostile Catholic environment; the competition from the “dissidents”, along with the quarrels opposing liberals and evangelicals, weakened the communities; and free-church thinking advanced.
As a result, it became necessary to find solutions to stop the erosion. The response came in the form of a more structured framework for believers, with specific attention for the catechization of children and adolescents. A decision was made to create “non-concordat” pastoral positions. Worship style was debated. The role of the pastor, the protector the flock, was promoted. Thereafter, it was necessary to “wake up” the Protestants by offering evangelization campaigns and adapting to an evolving society, as a result of which the question of works gained an important place.