Monday, August 20, 2012

A Window of Opportunity?

More and more people from a state church background are seeking answers in Denmark’s free (non-state-sponsored) churches, according to a recent report in Kristeligt Dagblad, Denmark’s daily religious news source. Pastors quoted in the report say that free churches offer a relevant worship experience and attempt to be both responsive and seeker-friendly.

“We hold fast to what we believe,” says Jakob Viftrup, a free church pastor in Kolding. “And I’m not seeing people stay away. Quite the contrary. People are searching for light during a time when it can be difficult to discover what’s right—and what’s wrong. Among other things, we’re experiencing a large incoming group who are leaving the folkekirke since the approval of same-sex marriage.”

Some 325 free churches in Denmark represent a variety of denominational viewpoints, from Baptist to Pentecostal. But free church leaders quoted in the Dagblad all seem to agree that outside interest is up.

“I don’t have a number,” says Baptist leader Mogens Andersen, “but I have the impression that we’re experiencing an increased influx from the folkekirke (state church). There’s no doubt that free churches are providing a place for the spiritual nature (of life), and that’s what people are moved by.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Elisabeth Dons Christensen of the Ribe Diocese admits that the folkekirke may have neglected to preach some of the more “emotional” aspects of faith. So last year she employed an additional outreach pastor in her area of Sjælland, on the west coast of Denmark.

“As a church, we’ve preached a simple, pure gospel,” she says. “We’ll continue doing so. But perhaps we’ve underestimated the religious feelings of seekers. If we’re going to be the folkekirke, we need to reach out to people.”

PRAY that the Lord will continue to draw many more Danes to himself, and that they will find answers to their questions in the person of Jesus Christ alone.

PRAY for courage among Danish believers to recognize this window of opportunity as they reach out to co-workers, friends and relatives.

PRAY that the state church’s recent decision to endorse same-sex marriage would provide new opportunities for a Biblical, compassionate response from Danish evangelicals.

PRAY for revival, unity and growth among free churches—as well as in the state church.

-posted by Bob