Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Baptistkirken i Danmark

Baptist work has existed in Denmark for 170 years. In fact, the Baptists constituted the first free church in Denmark outside the Folkekirke, Denmark’s Lutheran state church. Today there are fifty Baptist congregations throughout the country with a total of 5260 members, making it still Denmark’s largest free church denomination. The Baptists have been and continue to be an important part of Denmark’s community of free churches.

As might be expected, the Baptist churches have throughout their history had their highs and lows in spiritual power and effectiveness. Understandably, it is difficult for any denomination to maintain a consistently high level of spiritual power and evangelistic thrust over 170 years. Succeeding generations more often than not lose some of the fire and joyful spiritual energy their fathers experienced in coming to Christ. Periodic revivals are needed.

The earliest years of Baptist work were marked by extensive evangelism and the planting of new churches. Converts came to faith through sound preaching of the Word of God. Their fervor of witness to the liberating gospel of Christ brought persecution but also a spread of their witness throughout the country. The aging of the denomination and a settling in of its organization and traditions seemed to sap the spiritual power the first generations had known. In the 20th century, the coming of the charismatic (Pentecostal) movement to Denmark caused a fair number of Baptist leaders and lay folk to switch allegiances. Some leaders in the Pentecostal and new charismatic denominations were formerly a part of the Baptist churches. Some of the Baptist churches have adopted charismatic theology and worship practices while others have not. The denomination has gone through some tough times theologically and organizationally and even at present is experiencing some leadership problems. It is not my place to delve into the details of controversy, but Baptists are at a crossroads. I am concerned that now is the time for a sweeping revival and renewal throughout the Baptist churches in Denmark that would renew and reinvigorate their ministries.

I have a great appreciation for Danish Baptists. Myself an American of Danish descent, I was ordained to the gospel ministry by a Conservative Baptist church. My first contact with Danish Baptists was in 1952 at Copenhagen’s Kristuskirken. Pastor Thomsen greeted me and discovered that I was a Conservative Baptist missionary on my way to the Belgian Congo. He knew something of Conservative Baptist origins and said warmly, “I don’t have to ask you what you believe. I know.” He then invited me to speak in the church. That was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. I found Pastor Thomsen to be a man of God with a real heart for the gospel of Christ. My last trip to Denmark three years ago introduced me to several more Baptist churches and I met a number of Baptist friends in Viborg and Aalborg who were so warmly welcoming and hospitable.

I don’t know the reasons behind Danish Baptists’ current discussions and difficulties, but, I do know there is need for a sweeping movement of the Spirit of God to bring genuine cleansing and renewal. Pray earnestly with us for the Baptists in Denmark! Revival and renewal will not come merely through improved organization, but it will come to churches and believers that surrender to the restorative work of the Holy Spirit through confession of sin and repentance that are always prime ingredients in spiritual revival.

PRAY that a series of regional meetings of Danish Baptists to be held in the following locations in March and April will evidence the cleansing, restorative presence and power of the Holy Spirit, repair of broken relationships, unity amongst leaders and churches, and renewed commitment to evangelism and church planting:

Monday, March 30, 7:00-9:30 p.m., at Roskilde Baptist Church
Tuesday, March 31, 7:00-9:30 p.m., at Odense Baptist Church
Wednesday, April 1, 7:00-9:30 p.m., at VĂ¥rst Baptist Church,

West-Himmerlands congregation
Thursday, April 2, 7:00-9:30 p.m., at Silkeborg Baptist Church
Friday, April 3, 7:00-9:30 p.m., at Sindal Baptist Church.

PRAY that God will provide effective, Spirit-filled leadership for several of the Baptist churches that are currently without pastoral leadership.

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