Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Influence of Denmark's Frikirker

At least in name, according to the statistics from 2005, 83 percent of Danes are counted as adherents of the Lutheran State Church (Den Folkekirken), with slippage noted from 1990 when the percentage was 89.3 percent. The Folkekirke comprises 2200 parishes, 2400 churches, 2400 pastors, 2200 parish councils with 18,000 council members, and 12 bishops. The Queen is the titular head of the church, with the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) and the government’s Church Ministry (Kirkeministeriet) occupied with its overall administration and support. In Denmark, the term “free churches” (frikirker) refers to those churches and denominations that are not a part of the Folkekirke. The Frikirker are few in number in comparison to the monolithic state-supported Folkekirke.

The FrikirkeNet (the network of Denmark’s free churches), recently reported that there are 335 free churches in Denmark, with ten new self-standing churches added since the last semi-annual count. Of the 98 Danish communes, there are still 19 that are without an organized free church. Counted among the 335 free churches are many international churches that have come into being as a result of immigration. There are also a number of international ethnic fellowships that operate as a part of an existing free church. Most of the Danish free churches appear to be strongly evangelical with many even so needing a special touch of revival.

Without being overly judgmental, the larger share of the churches and parishes comprised within the Folkekirke appear to lack evangelical zeal and evangelistic fervor. This is reflected in the extremely low percentage of Danes (estiumated at five percent) who attend church services regularly and for whom the church has little relevance for daily life and walk. Thankfully, there are notable exceptions and especially those churches and parishes related in some way to one or another of the revival organizations within the Folkekirke, including Indre Mission, Luthersk Mission, Evangelisk Luthersk Mission, Oase, and Nyt Liv.

The free churches in Denmark have kept alive a spirit of evangelism and many of these churches practice believers (adult) baptism exclusively. The influence of the free churches has undoubtedly been quietly more effective than many Danes realize. The influence of the influx of ethnic believers through immigration, the coming of many interdenominational seminars from overseas, the zeal of the charismatic churches, and the introduction of praise and worship music are but a few of the factors which I see as having had some influence on Folkekirke pastors and parishes. I believe that a key element in reaching the Danish population with the Gospel of Christ is new evangelical churches strategically planted that will help keep alive the flame of evangelism in the country. Evangelism and revival go hand in hand and evangelism is a strong need in every generation for, as has been said, God has no grandchildren.

Pray for Denmark.com has from its inception three and a half years ago called believers throughout the world to pray for the spiritual needs of Denmark. Our website statistics indicate that there are those who are doing so and Brad and I praise God for them. I believe sincerely that intercessory prayer is the key to renewal/revival, evangelism, and new church planting.

As a longtime committed evangelical, I have not given up on the Folkekirke. God’s arm is not shortened that it cannot save. Because of the strong cultural and familial pull of the Folkekirke on the Danish people, I tend to believe that if revival and renewal are to come to Denmark it must come to the pastors and parishes of the Folkekirke. But I also believe that God has raised up the free churches to be a part and promulgators of the revival that Brad and I pray and believe will come. Denmark is ripe for revival. “Repent . . .and turn to God . . . that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19-20).

PRAY for the cities of Hovedstaden region that to our knowledge do not as yet have a free church, including Albertslund, Brøndby, Dragør, Frederikssund, Furesø, Gladsaxe, Hørsholm, Ishøj, Tårnby, and Vallensbæk.

PRAY for Sjælland region where a free church does not exist in the cities of Odsherred and Stevns.

PRAY for Syddanmark region and the planting of a free church in Fanø and Æro.

PRAY for Midtjylland region and the planting of a free church in Samsø, Skanderborg, Struer, and Syddjurs.

PRAY for Nordjylland region where a new church plant is needed in Læsø.

PRAY for all those with responsibilities for the day-to-day work of the Folkekirke, including governmental authorities, the twelve bishops, and all of its 2400 congregations and pastors.

PRAY for a genuine revival of committed Christian faith, a 21st century Reformation, to sweep over Denmark and in turn spread throughout Europe.

PRAY that Denmark’s free churches will regain a sense of aggressive evangelism that knows and understands Danish culture and with the Holy Spirit’s power and direction winsomely calls men and women to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

PRAY that God will raise up a new generation of church planters with a compelling vision for planting new churches in Denmark’s unreached communes.