Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pastoral Crisis in Danish Free Churches

Who will replace aging pastors in Danish free churches? In its June 2006 issue, Church News from Denmark, reported that several free church denominations in Denmark are experiencing difficulty finding candidates to replace retiring pastors. Too few free church young people seem to be drawn to the vocational ministry, tending rather to follow other career paths even while remaining a part of the church. One University of Copenhagen sociologist finds it puzzling that free church young people are not drawn to the ministry at a time when youth in general are more interested in religion than ever.

There may be reasons why many young believers from the free churches are seemingly deaf to the call of God and are bypassing pastoral ministry as a career. Some of the free church denominations and the local churches are themselves aging and have perhaps lost some of the spontaneity, ardor and freshness of their origins. Even free churches can over time develop their own rigid traditions. Whether in Denmark or elsewhere, subsequent generations tend to cool off, lack the commitment of their forebears, and look for new religious experience or affiliations. Young people often find older church members to be inflexible and uncomfortable with change even when the times warrant it. As one young American believer put it, "It's lonely being a Christian my age in my church."

There tends to be considerable divergence in the views of older and younger church members on what the church should look like and on how to go about doing church. As the article in Church News from Denmark suggests, "For the young generation the most important thing is the social network in the congregation, and they do not understand the traditional ways followed by the older generation." Rather than fight the system, many leave. In addition, many of the free churches in Denmark are quite small and struggling to support their pastors, some having only part-time pastors who must supplement their income from other sources. For young people considering career opportunities, such uncertain modeling detracts from the attractiveness of the vocational ministry. Not a few young people are forsaking the traditional free churches to find a home in the new church plants as, for instance, Copenhagen's lively youth-oriented and thoroughly evangelical Vineyard Church and other similar churches in the urban areas.

Meanwhile, the problem of free church pastoral vacancies persists and begs a solution. Dare we say it--were genuine spiritual revival and a new wave of the Spirit to occur in Denmark, it would go a long way toward remediating what is now a challenging situation threatening the future and possibly even the continued existence of some local churches.

Happily, there are several fine training institutions in Denmark where young people who do respond to God's call to vocational ministry can receive sound theological education and pastoral training. Among these are the Danish Pentecostal Bible College at Mariager (; the International Apostolic Bible College at Kolding (; the Skandinavisk Akademi for Lederskab og Teologi (SALT) in Copenhagen (; and the Dansk Bible Institut/Copenhagen Lutheran School of Theology (

for young believers in the Danish free churches, who are idealistic and committed and wanting to serve Christ in ministry, but who find it lonely and frustrating being a part of a church more oriented to the needs and perspectives of its older members.

that older believers in the free churches will become less concerned about maintaining church and denominational traditions and more understanding of and receptive to the passions and perspectives of younger believers.

PRAY for an increase in the number of students preparing for pastoral ministry in the Danish Bible colleges and evangelical theological faculties noted above.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Evangelical Alliance Prayer Week (Bedeuge)

In concert with its continent-wide counterpart, the European Evangelical Alliance, the Evangelisk Alliance i Danmark sponsors a week of prayer each year in the first full week of January. The Alliance's 2007 Bedeuge begins tomorrow, January 7 and continues through Sunday, January 14. There will be scores of prayer groups meeting all over the country and it is hoped that more than 30,000 Danes will be participating. While much of the announced focus is on prayer for evangelical work in Eastern Europe, and rightly so, we believe this week also gives Danish believers a significant opportunity to agree in prayer for revival and renewal throughout the nation's parishes and congregations.

Pastor Rick Warren said at the December 27-31, 2006 Urbana Conference that, "God's timing is perfect. I see a spiritual hunger, I see a spiritual readiness, the willingness to commit, and a willingness to sacrifice; and all of these things coming in together ... has created a 'kairos' moment--the right time for a reformation to take place." As one pastor has reiterated, prayer and worship go hand in hand. He writes: "I believe the pathway for the Church's moving into its full destiny in God's counsels, while retaining a practical sanity and spiritual balance on earth's surfrace, lies in our ability to perceive the true purpose and spiritual dynamic in worship. What has been defined for too long as an hour's exercise on Sunday, packaged by enculturated tradition and preserved in doctrinaire posturing is being redefined, unwrapped, and unsealed today. Worship is being redefined in terms of its form and focus. It isn't that valid traditions must be scorned or discarded but that newness must refill them with meaning." (Jack W. Hayford, Worship His Majesty, Gospel Light Productions, 2000).

That is what happens when revival and renewal occur. Wouldn't it be wonderful were such revival and a new Reformation, bathed in prayer and worship, to break out all over Europe in 2007 and for it to begin in Denmark this coming week! The website for the Evangelisk Alliance i Danmark is

PRAY that the the Spirit of God will move graciously and powerfully among the many prayer groups meeting in Denmark next week with Christ-exalting worship and fervent, believing prayer. Thirty thousand people so engaged could turn Denmark and the whole of Europe upside-down in a mighty demonstration of God's power and blessing.

for the hundreds of parishes and pastors of the Danish State Church (Folkekirke), as well as the scores of free evangelical pastors and congregations, that they will experience a life-changing spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ through this coming week of prayer throughout Denmark. (For a list of participating prayer locales, see the following website:

that there will be a rebirth of aggressive but culturally relevant and sensitive evangelism throughout Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

that God will reverse the downslide of Christianity in Europe as believers are stirred to their depths with the urgency of evangelism and revival.