Tuesday, January 01, 2019

A new church in Outskirts Denmark

Last November, we prayed for outreach on the island of Bornholm.  As it turns out, this movement may represent some of the most unique church planting in Denmark today.

What’s different about it?

As one Danish pastor points out, the movement tackles two issues, head-on: economic stress on urban Christian families, and “Udkantsdanmark.”

Believers in Rønne reach out to the community during a family event.
Translated, that long word means “Outskirts Denmark,” and it refers to 16 less strategically situated communities that have found themselves in the economic wake of better-known, more fortunate areas in the rest of Denmark.

Though civic pride and polite conversation veils much of the disparity, there’s a growing realization that the playing field may not be as level as once assumed. Forward-thinking believers have taken that as an open door, however, through an organized exodus from the pressures of city life in Copenhagen to the open doors and church-planting opportunities in the town of Rønne on the remote island of Bornholm.

“We’ve experimented during the past year,” says Vineyard Pastor Helle Samuelsen. “Four families with children from the Copenhagen Vineyard experienced a clear call to pull up roots and plant ourselves on the island of Bornholm. Here, the houses are inexpensive, which gave most of us the time to invest in church planting and in the people we meet.”

These missionary families meet weekly to encourage each other and compare outreach strategies, something Samuelsen calls “very exciting and a very different way of doing church.”

Leaving behind their hurried, stressed lives in the capital, says Samuelsen, “we’re able to do things that give our lives meaning as Christians. We have the opportunity and the time to enter into the lives of people. And we’re experiencing that we’re right where we can make a difference.

“We don’t have fancy worship services and we probably won’t ever become a megachurch. But out here in the outskirts, local church planting has been able to become the hope of Outskirts Denmark.”

PRAY for these four families in the coming year as they invest their lives in church planting and lifestyle evangelism.

PRAY that God would bring them into contact with just the right people, and that many would come to know and follow Jesus as a result.

PRAY that God would equip even more Christian families from the growing economic centers to step out into the smaller “Outskirts” communities of Denmark. Pray that they would catch the vision!

PRAY that God would grow churches and bring revival to Outskirts Denmark through this new movement of believers.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

From small beginnings

Pray for the year-old Thisted Bykirke (Thisted City Church) fellowship of rural northwest Denmark, where Isak Holm has just been hired as their first pastor. They’re optimistic about the future and excited to see what God is doing in that community.

“When you ask what we’re happy about,” says the congregation’s lay chairman, Thomas Boelskifte, “well, every Sunday is a joy. It’s great to see how many are engaged in the church, and who want to be a part of building it up.”

The fellowship is associated with Denmark’s “Valgmenighed” alternative Lutheran churches, as well as the Inner Mission renewal movement. Forty to 90 gather every other week to worship at the rented Inner Mission house in Thisted.

“We meet for brunch, coffee, or dinner,” Boelskifte explains. “We’ve seen there’s a need for that, and 45 minutes to an hour before the worship time begins, people begin showing up to chat. It’s wonderful.”

Even so, the young fellowship faces challenges, including many of the same challenges facing small Bible-believing fellowships that are beginning to spring up all over the country. After all, many Danes are not used to this kind of church.

“The challenge is that people will still show up when the newness wears off,” says Boelskifte. “The best thing would be if people would simply come every time, that they wouldn’t decide (whether to attend) from time to time. And it will also be a challenge that we won’t be disappointed if, some Sunday, only 35 people show up.”

Prayer concerns? That they will reach out to all of the Thy region, that Thisted Bykirke would be a place for everyone. That God’s Word would be preached faithfully. And, added Boelskifte, “That we’ll persevere.”

PRAY for the growth of the new Thisted Bykirke, that a faithful core would continue and grow in worship and unity.

PRAY for the group’s new pastor, Isak Holm, that God would give him favor and inspiration.

PRAY that this small fellowship would remain faithful to God’s Word, week after week.

PRAY that revival would come to this corner of the country, and that it would start at Thisted Bykirke.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Down from the mountaintop

What happens when a person returns from a great youth group event, a camp experience, or an exciting conference? We have yet to find out, as Danish youth from all over the country return to their everyday lives following the Brighter four-day youth conference, held last month in Mariager.

Brighter is a cooperative effort between groups like Youth for Christ, Vineyard Danmark, the Baptists, and the Lutheran Oasis renewal movement.

“Brighter is a cross-church youth event for the entire country,” said conference organizer Rasmus Jonstrup, “where you’re welcome just as you are. We live in a culture where so much revolves around things that have to be beautiful. There has to be a good presentation. It has to be impressive. The problem with that is it often becomes too shallow. And that’s not what we want at Brighter. In contrast, we want a conference that’s authentic. Where there’s room for all our humanity. All our mistakes, and all our doubts. We want a conference where there’s room for all, just as we are. Where we can be real in all that we do. Our songs, and our teaching. And in our fellowship. Brighter is for everyone.”

For many Danish youth, it’s been a mountaintop experience. And why not? The teaching, music, fun, and fellowship… everything they enjoyed at Brighter must have seemed larger than life. Especially if they returned to school assignments and family tensions. To small towns and small churches.

Let’s pray for these young Danes now, that the glow of this special time will remain, and that what they learned will carry through to the next few months… before it’s time to return to the Brighter mountaintop next fall!

PRAY for all the young Danes who attended this national youth conference, that God would help them apply and live what they learned and experienced.

PRAY for youth leaders across Denmark, that they would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading as they face the coming year.

PRAY for more workers to be inspired as they follow up and return to their daily routines.

PRAY for revival among Denmark’s young people, that God would move through their lives and their examples to bring a whole new generation to Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Cold storage? Not any more!

Things are warming up in the small town of Skjern (western Denmark), where believers have turned a cold storage facility into a beautiful new multi-purpose worship center. Late last month, much of the town and well-wishers from surrounding cities crammed into the new 600-seat sanctuary at the Skjern Bykirke (City Church) to celebrate.

During opening ceremonies September 23, Copenhagen-area pastor Niels Jørn Fogh complemented the growing independent Lutheran congregation for their vision.

“But I don’t think this church center is just an expression of your West Jylland pioneering spirit and building skills,” he told them. “It’s also an expression of how the Holy Spirit leads, works, and encourages.”

The building now hardly resembles the former Danish Crown meat packing center. Besides opening up a large space for worship, the new church facility also includes plenty of room for youth, offices, and a café. Skilled and unskilled volunteers provided much of the needed labor.

“We believe it’s going to be a place where more people in Skjern can meet Jesus,” said congregation president Jan Christiansen. “We’re really praying for that. That more people will meet Jesus through us.”

Skjern Bykirke was established in 2006, and is part of the Evangelical Lutheran free congregations. It currently includes 430 members, but that number will be growing!

PRAISE GOD for this new facility, and for the impact this church will have on a small community.

PRAY for the leadership at Skjern Bykirke, for wisdom as they follow what God is doing there.

PRAY with this congregation that more people will come to know Jesus in Skjern and the surrounding countryside.

PRAY that this entrepreneurial example will encourage other believers throughout Denmark to step out where the Spirit of God leads.