Sunday, June 23, 2013

Retirement... Now What?

Some 150 worshippers crowded into the fellowship hall last May 26 at Odense’s landmark Baptist church, Kristuskirken, to celebrate Bjarne and Lise Willer’s four decades of service, and to hear Bjarne preach his last official sermon as their senior pastor. Bjarne and Lise’s family joined the reception afterwards, along with church family and representatives from Baptist churches in Fyn and free churches in Odense. 

In many ways, however, Bjarne’s retirement brings up a critical question for a growing number of Danish churches: Who will replace his generation of church leadership, around the country?

The Willers had served in Odense for the past 11 years, though Bjarne started out with the “Baptisternes Ungdomsforbund” (“Baptist Youth Federation”) in the early 1970s. He still hopes to preach and translate in this active fellowship, which hosts several multi-ethnic congregations. For his final “official” sermon, he reminded listeners of their commitment to share Christ with those around them, in their everyday lives. It’s an obligation he believes all believers face, even into retirement years.

We can certainly now pray for the Baptist Church in Odense as they anticipate new leadership. At the same time, let’s pray for Bible-believing churches all across Denmark as they face a key challenge: 

Who will lead these fellowships to reach out and make disciples… that will make even more disciples?

PRAY for Bjarne and Lise Willer as their ministry changes during retirement.
PRAY for wisdom as the Odense Baptists face decisions about their church leadership.
PRAY that churches in Odense will take Bjarne’s parting sermon to heart, and continue to reach out in the name of Christ – to neighbors, co-workers, immigrants, and others.

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