Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Greatest Gift

The Advent Season culminates in a day in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, born of a virgin at Bethlehem 2000 years ago. There is no Christmas without Christ. His birth gave him the name Immanuel—God with us. He was indeed the Son of God and the Son of Man God in human flesh. Deny that and the heart would be ripped out of Christianity. His birth cannot be separated from two other events, that is, His crucifixion and three days later his bodily resurrection from the dead. Bethlehem and Calvary, Christmas and Easter, are inseparably connected. The Son of God took on human flesh and it was that One who was equally God and man in His person. The purpose of His coming was to be the one and final sacrifice for man’s sin and alienation from God. Christmas is a wonderful celebration for Christians all over the world because of these truths. Can there be any doubt that Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior was God’s greatest gift to humankind, including the Danish people?

I am sitting at my computer here in California writing this and thinking about Christmas in Denmark. There is a small core of believers in that beautiful little country, the home of my ancestors, who have committed their lives to the Savior based on the truths stated above. They will gather joyfully in their churches at Christmastime to celebrate the birth of Christ and some of the traditional Christmas customs will mark the celebration. However, for the majority of Danes who out of tradition will flock to churches on Christmas Eve simply because its sort of Danish to do so have little or no understanding of or life-changing commitment to Jesus Christ. Christmas has become embedded in Danish hygge and encrusted with ideas and customs that stray far from the simple truth of who Jesus was and why He came as he did as the babe in Bethlehem’s manger ultimately dying in our place to save us from sin and to give us eternal life in Him. How unfortunate it is that the real meaning of Christmas has been obscured in Danish culture and become just another folk holiday.

Jesus Christ, God’s greatest gift to humankind, was His gift to every one of the nearly six million Danes. The country is desperately in need of an evangelism that will call Danes to repentance and saving faith in Christ.

Will you PRAY with me that God will raise up a host of Danish evangelists with a passionate message rooted in the saving truths of the Word of God that given voice would penetrate the hearts and minds of the Danish people. The Apostle Paul wrote of his fellows Jews , “My heart’s cry for Israel is that they might be saved” (Romans 10:1, KJV). My burden could be stated this way: “My heart’s cry for the Danish people is that they might be saved.” The greatest gift for Denmark would be a new forthright and uncompromising proclamation throughout the land that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Faithful readers of Pray for, PRAY with me that Denmark and Danes would accept God’s greatest gift—His Son, our Savior, and the salvation He offers! That above everything else would really make Christmas really Christmas in Denmark.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

For Urgent Prayer . . .

I was deeply grieved the other day to read about the dilemma of a solid evangelical and well-educated brother in Denmark, far better educated in the inerrant Word of God than almost any evangelical pastor in the country. This dear servant of God, brother M, has a call and sincere desire to serve the Lord full-time and is well-equipped to do so. It is why he spent so many years in preparation at one of the world’s finest evangelical theological seminaries. However, the small Danish assembly with which he is connected is unable to provide for the support of his family. As a consequence it became necessary for him to seek full-time secular employment in order to keep ministering to the small flock while at the same time providing for his family.

The job brother M has involves very menial labor, work that most others would consider far beneath them. Understandably, that limits his time for the important work of study for teaching and preaching the Word of God. Right now this dear brother is considering moving with his family to another country where he has been offered a full-time ministry position. Given his current situation, it is not difficult to understand the attraction of such an opportunity. I am grieved because it seems to me that it would be a tragic and even strategic loss for Denmark where there is such a tremendous need for a man of his passion and ability.

There is an imperative for ministry in Denmark as in any other area of the world. The nation desperately needs pastors and teachers, like brother M, with a heart for evangelism who anchor their ministry in this truth from John 3:7: I må fødes på ny (You must be born again!). The biblical imperative of the new birth, the core and impetus of evangelism, must be reclaimed and reemphasized over and over again in Denmark. That will not happen unless there are pastors and teachers like brother M who can lead people to Christ, help deepen their walk with the Lord, and train them through sound biblical instruction and doctrine to reach others.

There are some friends in other lands preparing and praying that they will be able to minister in Denmark. We can only rejoice that the call and spirit of missions is alive and well in the world. These messengers of the gospel will come to Denmark with full support from churches in their homeland, though it will take some years before they will be able to learn the language fluently and be able to evangelize in Denmark. What grieves me sorely is that a native-born Dane without the support incoming missionaries will have has the language and is in place for effective ministry.

PRAY that the Lord will provide the resources through His people so that brother M would be freed to minister full-time in Denmark with adequate financial support for his family to make that possible. With God all things are possible!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Does Denmark Need to be Re-Evangelized?

An article that recently appeared in Folkekirken’s Inter-Church News (Folkekirkens Mellemkirkelige Råd) summarizes startling results from a Rambøl Analysis published in the Jutland Post. Apparently only 48% of Danes over age 17 believe that Jesus was crucified and only 26% that Jesus rose from the dead. Among them, more women than men and more seniors than the rest of the population, believe the crucfixion and resurrection were real events. The strongest percentage for belief in the resurrection came from North Jutland (37%) and the weakest from the Copenhagen area (18%). If four out of five seniors call themselves “believers,” one wonders how younger people skew the overall results.

Responding to the Rambøl Analysis, professor Hans Jørgen Lundager Jensen at Aarhus University opined, “I thought the Danes would be even more skeptical about a supernatural event. On the other hand I’m also surprised that so many are skeptical about the crucifixion, which in no way breaks with our concept of a realistic event. But in my experience belief is not a permanent dimension.”

Dr. Marie Vejrup Nielsen, who produced the Religion in Denmark 2010 report, stated that “Danes are not particularly atheist or traditionally religious. They just do what suits them. They accept the religious offers that are tended and they don’t mind the church being among the tenderers. They just don’t use them.”

Peter Luchau, a sociologist of religion from the University of Southern Denmark, commented on a recent book, Minor and Major Changes: Danish Values Since 1981, saying that “Figures in the book show that 72% of Danes call themselves ‘believers,’ and we ought to take that seriously. We know that Danes are fine with God and life after death, but that’s about it. We generally like things that offer hope.”

Luchau concludes, “We have become individualized, and no one any longer tells us what to believe or not to believe. But we have no idea what we actually mean by a ‘believer.’ The collectivity of faith has disappeared. There is no doubt that young people are less religious than the over-65s, but there is no saying that this trend will increase. Today there is no youth rebellion involved in being a non-believer, so there may well be a change in the next generation.”

For the Bible-believing and committed Christian, it would appear that apostasy is stalking the land. “ . . . Danes are fine with God and life after death, but that’s about it”? What’s missing here is the element of sin, repentance, and faith in the finished work of the cross of Christ. That is the gospel of grace apart from works and that is where and in whom (Jesus Christ) true hope that Danes are looking for is to be found. Does Denmark need to be re-evangelized? The answer has to be a resounding, “Yes, indeed!”

PRAY that God would raise up Bible-believing evangelists and a great surge of evangelism to reach the Danish people, most of whom lack any true sense of what the gospel of Christ is all about.

PRAY that the Holy Spirit would draw thousands of Danish younger people to a biblical understanding of sin, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ so that in turn they would become strong witnesses for the gospel of grace to fellow Danes of all ages.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Reformation Resurrection Conference

Cameron Buettel asks the readers of this blog to be informed and to pray about a forthcoming Reformation Resurrection summer conference/family camp to be held in Mariager, Denmark beginning Tuesday, July 26 and continuing through Friday, July 29.

The conference keynote speaker will be Dr. Voddie Baucham, reputed to be one of the best reformed preachers from the United States. He will be coming to Denmark to teach in expository style through the Epistle to the Ephesians. His emphasis will be on why we should trust the Bible, and will call believers to stand against the Danish culture and to follow God's call on men to lead and disciple their families. Dr Baucham is an apologist for the Christian faith who argues powerfully against atheists, evolutionists, and academics for the authority of the Bible. He is also a strong defender of biblical manhood and womanhood and will be arguing strongly against feminist views prevalent in most Danish churches and denominations..

Much is said these days about "new reformations" offering new solutions to old and new problems. But the fact is we face the same problem today as in Reformation times 500 years ago, namely, that the pulpits of Europe have for the most part watered down or abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The rallying cry of the conference's sponsoring network, Tilbage til Bibelen (Back to the Scriptures), underscores the same solution the Reformers risked their lives to proclaim centuries ago--that sinful men can be justified before a Holy God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone as faithfully proclaimed in God's Word alone, and to God's glory alone.

There is truth in Cameron’s perspective that the reformation isn't over--it just needs new life breathed into timeless truth. The Reformation Resurrection summer conference is devoted to the furtherance of the truth by men and women who are not ashamed of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, that the Bible declares is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans. 1:16, KJV)

The conference will meet in north Jutland at Skroedstrup Boarding School, Skroedstrupvej 26, Mariager. Details about the conference are available on the Internet at

While the conference message is certain to go against the grain of majority religious views in Denmark and the Danish culture as a whole, the Reformation Resurrection Conference offers an opportunity to hear Reformed teaching that has seldom been heard in Denmark for many years.

PRAY that the presence of the Spirit of God will be manifest during the four-day conference and that every aspect of the gathering will proceed in a wise and orderly fashion.

PRAY that the speaker's ministry will have the anointing of the Spirit and that the question-and-answer period will be a time of serious reflection about the future of Gospel ministry in Denmark.

PRAY that those who should attend the conference will do so and that each attendee would carefully consider Dr. Baucham's teaching and benefit from it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Open Air Campaigners-Denmark (Friluftsmissionen)

We value the friendship of Torben Østermark, a good friend of Pray for whom I met in Copenhagen several years ago. Torben is the Director of Friluftsmissionen, the Danish branch of Open Air Campaigners International.

Torben has done a lot of travel this year. At the beginning of the year he and his family were in New Zealand and Australia where they had an opportunity to meet with Robert Siakimotu, the President of Open Air Campaigners International. Since then, he has been in Vienna, Austria for the European Open Air Campaigners leaders meeting and in the Faroe Islands teaching evangelism in a Bible school. At the end of June he will be evangelizing on Bornholm island. He is also looking forward to a trip to Mexico in February-March that may include a visit to the United States. Torben will participate in the Open Air Campaigners International conference in Mexico. We can be assured that Torben will have his eyes and ears open to learn new ways of presenting the gospel in Denmark.

Friluftsmissionen engages in many evangelistic endeavors. As I am writing this on June 13 the organization, along with several Folkekirke churches, has been involved with the Jesperhus Gospel day camp event held at Blomsterparken near Nykøbing Mors, Denmark. Jesperhus Gospel is held annually on the day after Pinsedag (Pentecost or Whitsun tide).

Gammelbro Camping is a quiet and attractive camping site located directly at the sea (Little Belt/Lillebælt) in the southern part of Denmark at Årøsund near Haderslev.. A family Bible camp is held there annually in which Friluftsmissionen has a major evangelistic ministry with adults, children, and young people. This year the camp will convene from July 4 through July 15.

A Reach the City campaign is coming to Copenhagen, August 3-6, involving Friluftsmissionen in cooperation with Inner Mission youth of Copenhagen. The team will hit the streets in the area of the city around Storkespringvandet fountain sharing the gospel through such means as drama, kids programs, and music. In addition, the plan for the three-day event calls for bringing the gospel to residential areas, parks, beaches throughout the city. The three-day effort will also be joined by a team from Open Air Campaigners-USA headed by OAC evangelist Paul Adams.

Reach the City was originated by Open Air Campaigners in Europe to bring the gospel of Christ to such cities as Vienna, Austria; Cologne, Germany; and, Bristol, England. Inspired by what God has done in those cities, Friluftsmissionen and young people of IMU have joined together and organized the 2011 project to reach Denmark’s capital city, believing that God desires to reach out to the people of Copenhagen as well.

Besides direct evangelism, Reach the City-Copenhagen will also provide team members with instruction and training in evangelism that will doubtless have a continuing effect throughout Denmark in the months and years ahead. There will be workshops on giving a personal testimony, kids programs, puppet theater, sketchboard, drama, event organization and much more taught by Danish and international teachers.

PRAY that in each of these scheduled events the gospel will be proclaimed boldly in the power and presence of the Spirit of God empowering Friluftsmissionen’s evangelists Torben Østermark, Lars Kristiansen, and team member associates.

PRAY that in each venue the Lord would prepare the hearts of unbelievers to receive and apply the biblical message of salvation by grace through faith plus nothing.

PRAY that Danish young people who join the team will not only have surrendered their own lives to Jesus Christ, but will through these events get a taste for evangelization that is so greatly needed in Denmark today.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Danish Gideons at Work

It amazes me to discover something new about Danish people who love the Lord and are busy in the work of the Kingdom of God. Just when I think I have learned about all there is to know, something new comes to my attention. For instance, I hadn’t the slightest idea that there are Gideon camps throughout Denmark until I came across the Danish Gideons’ webpage ( just a few minutes before I sat down to begin writing this issue of Pray for The Gideons are not strangers to me for when I was a child my father was a Gideon and I accompanied him often when he spoke in churches about Bible and Testament distribution. Later, as a pastor I also had the privilege of welcoming Gideons to speak about their work in our services.

For those who may not be familiar with Gideons International, its members throughout the world are mainly Christian businessmen and professionals. Generally, local Gideon groups (called in Gideon parlance “camps”) also have an associated Gideons wives auxiliary (in Danish, gideonithustruers). The Gideons number around 280,000 members in 193 countries. The website of Gideons International may be viewed at

The Gideons are wholeheartedly dedicated to Bible distribution and evangelism. Gideons’ focus worldwide is on the distribution of complete Bibles or New Testaments in more than 90 languages. Copies are presented directly to certain individuals such as students, prisoners, and police, fire, medical and military personnel, or to individuals they have witnessed to about faith in Jesus Christ. The Gideons are perhaps best known for the copies of the Scriptures they have placed in hotels and motels, hospitals, convalescent homes, medical offices, domestic violence shelters, or prisons and jails or in selected public locations where large numbers of seeking individuals have found life-changing answers from the Word of God for their spiritual needs.

Though there were precursor organizations in the country, the work of Gideons (Gideonitters) in Denmark dates from 1969 and has since spread throughout the country. Currently there are around 260 Danish Gideons who come from local folkekirker or evangelisk frikirker. Gideon camps are found in Bornholm, Esbjerg, Frederikshavn, Haderslev, Herning, Hjøring, Horsens, Næstved, Nørresundby, Odense, Randers, Roskilde, Silkeborg, Sønderborg, Thisted, Vejle, Viborg, Aalborg, Århus, Aars, and several camps in metropolitan Copenhagen. Danish Gideons distribute 3500 New Testaments annually.

The Danish Gideons webpage tells of the first Bible-Blitz held in Denmark in October 2003 (week 44) when within a week's time several thousand New Testaments were distributed in schools, universities and colleges and other locales in West Jutland, Lolland, Falster, Roskilde, Odense, and in the Copenhagen area.

Whether from churches or individuals, all contributions go toward purchase of Bibles or New Testaments. Gideons themselves pay for administrative expenses. As in other countries, Gideons value invitations to speak in churches and Christian groups about their work of Bible distribution. Though non-denominational in nature, the Gideon’s depend on contributions from churches’ and individuals’ to assist them in their work of Bible distribution.

PRAY that Danish Gideons will see Scripture distribution as an important avenue of evangelism and that they themselves will not lose sight of or water down the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

PRAY that many individuals and families will come to know the truth of the Gospel and be saved through reading a Bible or New Testament placed in hotels and other locations by Danish Gideons.

PRAY that Gideons will find open doors in many more locations throughout Denmark for distribution of Bibles or New Testaments.

PRAY that God will supply needed funds through His people to help Danish Gideons purchase Bibles and Testaments for distribution.

PRAY that chairman Tommy Petersen will be able to provide godly and effective leadership for Danish Gideons as they seek to increase the number of groups (camps) and members throughout Denmark.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A New Church Plant in Bjerringbro

Free churches and denominations in Denmark form a sort of patchwork quilt of “Danish evangelicalism.” It appears that the theological emphasis of most leans heavily toward Arminianism with Pentecostal/charismatic movements seemingly in the ascendancy. I have not been able to verify something I recall having heard a while back that Baptists in Denmark (the present Baptist Union) were originally Reformed in theology, i.e., Calvinistic but with a Baptist perspective. Somewhere around 1930, and for reasons to me unknown, a switch was made to embrace a more Arminian approach. As far as I have been able to tell currently, one would look far and wide in Denmark without finding a free church or denomination that subscribes to Reformed theology. The Folkekirke is confessionally Lutheran but that theological base is highly compromised in some parts of the church because of the inroads made by liberal theology.

However, there is a new and significant development on the free church scene with the recent formation of a “Reformed Baptist” church in Bjerringbro called “Kristuskirken, a name more commonly associated with the church of the same name in Copenhagen, the first Baptist church in Denmark, founded in 1839, and one that I know quite well. Bjerringbro is located in the Mid-Jutland Region near Fjends and Sparkaer where, just incidentally, my mother was born. American pastor Paul Washer of the HeartCry Missionary Society visited Denmark in July 2009 and spoke at a public gathering in Randers on July 15. There were also private meetings from July 14 to 16 concerned with the planting of “biblical churches” in Denmark.

Two “ultimatums” issued by Washer caught the attention of Cameron Buettel, an Australian engineer working in Denmark: 1. If you are in a church where the Gospel is not preached―get out! Come out from among them! Touch not the unclean thing. 2. If you are not in a biblical church then find one or start one.

Buettel indicates that he was “desperately sad and grieved after almost three years in Denmark because he had not been able to find a church where the Gospel was preached.”

Influenced by Washer’s ultimatum, Buettel together with his wife and children moved to Bjerringbro to become a part of a new church plant. The new church was “formed in November 2009 by several Christian families in Denmark who were desperate for fellowship and a place where the Gospel would be preached in purity.” Buettel would agree: it is far easier to start a new church than to try to reform an old one.

The recently formed church in Bjerringbro is described in this manner: “Kristuskirken is a newly planted Reformed Baptist Church in Denmark. We hold to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. We place great emphasis on the authority of Scripture, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, gospel purity, and the call on all people everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. We believe that evangelism should be normal Christian behavior. We stress the biblical importance of male headship. We love the fellowship of believers and seeing sinners come to saving faith. And we desire to see God's Name magnified and exalted in Denmark.”

Buettel’s blog further describes the new church as one “that preaches Christ crucified without apology. A church where the Bible is the sole rule for all matters of life, faith, and practice. Kristuskirken is a church that recognizes the Holiness of God, the utter sinfulness of all men, the reality of God’s wrath, the constant danger of hell, the necessity of the Christ’s death as a penal substitute on the cross, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, the call on all men everywhere to repent of their wickedness, and the glorious eternal hope for those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ – Who is the resurrected Savior." That sounds pretty much like historic, classic evangelicalism to me and a message Denmark needs to hear.

At this point precise information is difficult to come by as to how this new church is faring after little more than two years of existence. There is a website for the church: (in Danish). Cameron Buettel himself is a consummate and dedicated blogger whose interesting postings in English may be read at:

Don’t look for existing free churches in Denmark or the Folkekirke to give an especially warm welcome to the new church or to the Reformed doctrines that underlie its message. Buettel has already had some brushes with representatives of existing denominations and movements that are less than appreciative of his approach. There is a note of bluntness in Buettel’s approach that probably hits hard at the heart of Danish cultural and even “evangelical” hygge.

I have prayed for a more aggressive evangelism in Denmark and the Reformed Baptists may be God’s way of initiating it. It remains to be seen whether or not the movement gains traction in the country. There are certain aspects of the Reformed message that make it an important counter-thrust to an evangelism of an easy-believism that downplays the necessity of sound biblical doctrine and teaching.

PRAY that the Reformed Baptist message will turn out to be a positive corrective and not unnecessarily divisive voice in a land so greatly in need of confrontation with biblical teaching and evangelism that takes into account “the whole counsel of God.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Church Planters for Denmark

I recently came across a “church planting in Denmark” page on the Internet that immediately got my attention. The content focused on Matthew and Sarah Bates, a young American couple in process of raising support with the intention of becoming church planters in Denmark.

Given the increasing difficulty and numerous requirements involved in establishing permanent residence in Denmark, I had all but dismissed the idea of overseas “missionaries” coming to work in the country and had been doubtful that many could or would be able to do so. To my amazement and joy, the Lord doesn’t always work as I expect Him to work. I could not detect anything in Matthew and Sarah’s Internet page that would seem inimical to evangelical interests in Denmark and took the step of making contact with this young couple. The Bates are associated with Biblical Ministries Worldwide, an evangelical, Bible-believing agency whose purpose is to serve the Lord and the local church by establishing reproducing churches through evangelism, discipleship and leadership development (

My wife and I finally got to meet this young couple in person a couple of weeks ago. We were very grateful and pleased to have a short but fruitful visit with Matthew and Sarah Bates and their two children. They were traveling in California and were able to stop by for a visit on their way to a weekend engagement in a local church in Sacramento. We found them to be not only a delightful couple but also very knowledgeable about Denmark and its spiritual condition, and above all far from naïve about its many challenges. We took to them immediately and view them very favorably. Matthew has done his homework and has profited from having the opportunity to travel widely in Denmark where he had been able to interview individuals and leaders of various churches and denominations and learn from them. My sense is that they will help spur the planting of new Bible-believing churches in Denmark and hopefully encourage young Danish believers to seek God’s will to join them in such endeavors.

Doubtless, many obstacles and unexpected trials lie ahead of Matthew and Sarah. I would urge readers of this Pray for Denmark weblog to follow the couple’s exciting faith journey to Denmark through their excellent and informative Internet page. Look for it at

PRAY that Matthew and Sarah will be able to raise needed support within the next few months. Their Internet page will show how God is helping them discover supporting churches and individuals.

PRAY that even now the Lord will lay the groundwork for their coming to Denmark in the choice of where to center their ministry, in fruitful contacts with evangelical believers, in the acceptance by Danes of their presence and ministry in the country.

PRAY that the Lord will give Matthew and Sarah unusual ability to grasp the Danish language and to understand and integrate easily into Danish culture and customs, two essentials in getting a hearing for the Gospel message.

PRAY that the Lord would give a Danish local church or organization a willing heart to sponsor Matthew and Sarah’s residence in Denmark.

PRAY that God would also give Danish believers and leaders a vision for the planting of new churches that hold steadfastly to the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gospel Choirs Come to Denmark

My sense is that God’s Spirit is at work quietly, and perhaps in ways overlooked, plowing up the fallow ground of Danish Christian culture. Can it be that “signs and wonders” are not always spectacular and immediately discernible? The comment I (Bill) made in the August 16 issue of Kristeligt Dagblad suggested that one of the indications of the Spirit’s working in Denmark is the presence and increase in the number of gospel choirs. Though at the time it was a statement not probed deeply enough, I have thought much of it since it appeared in print and have become more and more convinced of its truth.

So, what are we talking about here? When we refer to gospel music in Denmark, the essential reference is, as Pastor Lewis defines it, “the rhythmic sounds of African-American gospel with texts that convey a gospel message in English.” To get an idea of what this sounds like in a Danish context, press *Ctrl + click* on each of the following links:

The Danish Gospel Choir

Joyful Noise & Crossroads

Ringe Kirkes Gospelkor

My perceptions have recently been firmed up in the reading of a paper written by Mark W. Lewis, /“Gospel Choirs: A Meeting Ground Between Christians and New Age Adherents”/ (the paper was written when Lewis was a doctoral student at the School of World Mission at Asbury Theological Seminary). It is available on the Internet at

Gospel Choirs

Lewis, who is currently the pastor of Jerusalemkirken (Methodist) in Copenhagen, gives some excellent insights about the gospel choir movement in Denmark. I now find that the thrust of his doctoral research has been made available in a book recently published in the United States (ISBN 419-994-0535) entitled "The Diffusion of Black Gospel Music in Postmodern Denmark: How Mission and Music are Combining to Affect Christian Renewal."

No figures are available as to the exact number of gospel choirs in Denmark, but there is little question there has been exponential growth of the movement from a few choirs in the early 1990s to what must be several hundred or more at present. There can be little doubt that for Christians this is a phenomenal and not-to-be overlooked development in Denmark. While our focus is on Denmark, it should be noted that the black gospel music movement has filtered to other European countries as well.

Gospel music grew out of the long struggle of black Americans for deliverance and the achieving of justice and civil rights. It is somewhat perplexing to see “proper” Danes, who have no parallel experience originating from the effects of slavery, uninhibitedly “singing, clapping, and swaying to the energetic, rhythmic and joyful sound” of gospel music. Rather than dismiss gospel outright as out-of-character for Danes and Danish culture, it is perhaps best understood as a deliverance of another sort than that experienced by black Americans. Lewis sees its manifestation in Denmark as “a deliverance from the stodgy forms of state and folk church religiosity that have pacified the populace from deeper interaction with and experience of Christian faith in a way that appeals to a common interest that may or may not be associated with Christian meaning.”

Though largely centered in Danish churches, both Folkekirke and free, the gospel choir movement is pluralistic in that it attracts singers from the entire social and cultural spectrum. Age seems no barrier as both young and older, even the near elderly, are participating. Singers are attracted by the informality that requires very little from them other than interest and desire to engage with others in this particular musical modality. In the choirs’ rehearsals and performances, singers find themselves feeling very comfortable coming into a non-threatening social networking of the kind not usually found in churches of the Danish Folkekirke. As a general rule, choir members seem to be willing to support choir activities, even singing at worship services or other Christian events, even if they hold personal views that are quite contrary to evangelical Christianity and more akin to New Ageism. Usually, no requirement of Christian commitment is made of choir members with the result that the choirs are often made up of believers and unbelievers alike. The position of some directors is, as Lewis suggests, that “encouraging those who sing about Jesus to actually believe in the One whom they were singing about is an unnecessary imposition and is not germane to the future proliferation of the gospel music movement.” Lewis says further, “People can sing ‘Jesus is the Rock’ or ‘O Happy Day’ again and again, and be free to be moved by the message, or simply sing and sway without real regard for the intended meaning of the message.” Not a few committed Christians will shudder at this.

Not everyone in Denmark is so enchanted by gospel music and not a few consider it an abberation. However, gospel has arrived at pop status throughout the country, evidence of its wide acceptance and accessibility in spite of the fact that the gospel message in the music is as Lewis avers “image-laden and expressive in ways that do not reflect the conceptual theology of many traditional sermons and hymns.” Gospel choirs have sung on Danish radio, at the famous Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, in various festivals throughout the country, and elsewhere other than in churches. There is concern on the part of some and undoubtedly well-taken, that “gospel choirs must make the effort to insure that the music does not disengage from the message, lest the movement begin to contradict its roots and squander a unique opportunity for Christian mission and discipleship.”

One has to know something of Danish religious culture to understand how revolutionary the spread of gospel choirs has been. Danes may be for or against gospel music, but the discerning believer can look beyond and at least wonder if this may be God’s way of breaking up the ingrained, stodgy Danish religious culture so that the biblical Gospel message can be more effectively introduced in its place. Gospel music may not be great music, but in Denmark it may be the vehicle for transition to worship styles that are more in keeping with worshiping God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24, NIV). Indeed, gospel music could conceivably bring revival to places in Denmark where revival and renewal have never even be dreamed of.

* *

PRAISE God that many Danes have been moved in recent years by a lively and energetic musical form so completely different from traditional Danish church music.

PRAY that the imprint of more immediate spiritual experience that is the mark of gospel music will spill over into the too-often spiritually dry or tepid liturgies of the traditional churches, whether Folkkirke or free.

PRAY that the spread of gospel choirs will be promoted in Denmark without doing violence to the very heart of gospel music that is so deeply embedded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

PRAY that the unbelieving singer may in spite of himself or herself come to believe and personally commit to the truth of the gospel of Christ so simply portrayed and reiterated in the gospel music they are singing.