Monday, September 29, 2008

Church Planting in Denmark

Church planting in Denmark is a tough assignment in view of the entrenched and deepening secularism that eats the heart out of a nation’s sensitivity to the things of the spirit. Though I have mentioned them before, and not too long ago, I have been impressed by the work of church planters David and Solvej Allen in Roskilde (shown here on their 25th wedding anniversary). These two have been slogging it out for Christ for several years planting a new Vineyard church. As Solvej has written: “It is hard being ‘free church’ in a bogged down state church-focused and increasingly secularized country like Denmark.” There have been obstacles and discouragements along the way, but joys ands victories as well. It is especially difficult because the fledgling congregation cannot as yet remunerate a full-time ministry. So, both David and Solvej have had to take outside employment to make ends meet for themselves and their family. Because David’s employment has required a greater number of hours in the week, Solvej has had to take up the slack in helping shepherd the little flock that God is calling out of the world into His fellowship. David and Solvej deserve great honor and support for their determination to follow the will of God and to live like they have had to live for several years. A church planter sows the seed, but it is God who gives the increase. Truly, God has been at work in Roskilde and He has been using David and Solvej in a remarkable way.

The new church plant requires extensive pastoral ministry as many have come into the fellowship having tremendous needs and some even quite serious problems. It is no easy thing these days for people to come out of the world and to come clean for Jesus Christ. By loving them with unconditional love and making themselves available to them even at inconvenient times is a drain on this church planting couple’s spiritual and physical energies. Exponential growth has been seen in some of the “new broken people” but less visible growth in others.

One of the major tasks of a church planter is to help members of a congregation know their spiritual gifts and to challenge them to utilize them for the growth and progress of the whole body. A new church plant is no place for spectator believers. Spiritual advance becomes possible as everyone pitches in with prayerful and selfless exercise of his or her spiritual gifts.

Prayer support is essential in any church planting endeavor and this Roskilde church planting couple are appreciative of those in Denmark and elsewhere who continually hold them and the new congregation before the Lord in intercessory prayer. We urge Pray for readers to join with the intercessors. The prayers of many will assure David and Solvej that they are not going at it alone in Roskilde. .Here are some items to take before the Lord:

PRAY for health and strength for David and Solvej, for deliverance from discouragement, and for employment requiring fewer hours of David’s time. It is frustrating to have a gift for evangelism and not enough time to exercise the gift. Nothing would please this couple more than for David to be freed for full-time ministry.

PRAY that the new congregation will seize opportunities for open air evangelism. A recent experience with other churches in the town square indicated that townspeople will stop and listen. Sometimes older, tried-and-true evangelism methods still work in a sophisticated society.

PRAY for the “new broken people” who have come under David and Solvej’s care with various addictions, marital breakups, New Age involvements, unbelieving spouses, physical challenges, excursions into the demonic, suicide, depression, and the like. Solvej writes: “Working with broken people can get quite messy, but we trust that where the enemy has come in like a flood the Lord will raise up a standard of righteousness.”

PRAY that the good, spiritually strong couples in the church that until recently had not been involved in anything of a ministry nature will continue to step out with eagerness to exercise their much-needed spiritual gifts and leadership. They have a lot of potential as “soldiers fully armed and equipped,” as Solvej puts it, but only now beginning to step “into their spot in the row.”

PRAISE God for the progress made thus far at Roskilde Vineyard and His promise that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)