Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Leadership, New Challenges

Last June we wondered about new leadership in Danish churches when a longtime pastor retired from the pulpit at Kristuskirken, the Odense Baptist church. Where would the next generation of pastors come from?

So here’s the answer, at least in Odense, where they’ve called a new senior pastor for that multi-ethinic congregation. Henrik Krak Søndergaard begins his service there as of October 1, and is scheduled to preach his first sermon October 6. Forty-seven years old, he’s trained as a teacher, and earned a distance degree in theology from an American university. He has also worked with youth and children at Bredballe Kirke and has been a member of the Kolding Valgmenighed church, a fellowship associated with the growing Danish Oase renewal movement.

What’s going to happen now in Odense? Søndergaard’s appointment is an exciting move for this church, and we’ll surely hear more about it. He is not the only new pastor this fall, however. Here are several more to pray for:

Svend Ryborg was installed September 15 as a half-time pastor at Kronborgvejens Church Center in Thisted, northwest Jylland. He comes from within this church, having held leadership positions there for several years. He’s also served in leadership with Oticon, the Danish-based hearing aid manufacturer. In his new position he hopes to concentrate on leadership development within the church.

Another Svend, Svend Vestergaard Jensen, was installed as a part-time pastor at Din Frikirke in Haderslev, a town in southeast Jylland.

Some of the families at Din Frikirke in Haderslev
Hasse Falk Jakobsen is the new pastor at Nexø Free Church on the remote island of Bornholm. Though born and raised on the island, for the past 18 years he has served as pastor and worship leader at Vineyard fellowships in Copenhagen and Roskilde. Outgoing pastor Michael Grønbech-Dam and his wife Mette will remain in church leadership, as well.

Former youth pastor David Højgaard is now volunteering at the Kaas Free Church (northern Jylland) to help especially with youth and a monthly international service. He had previously served in the Vanløse Free Church and Bethaniakirken in Aalborg.

PRAY for these new leaders. Whether they’re paid, volunteer, part-time or full-time, pray the God will use them to grow His church in Denmark.

PRAY that God would fill each one of these new leaders with wisdom and a fresh vision for what’s ahead.

PRAY for protection for each one. PRAY for their families, and for the adjustments as they take on new responsibilities in a new place.

PRAY for each of the fellowships mentioned here, that they would support their new leadership as together they worship and serve.

And PRAY that God would continue to raise up even more new leaders for the Danish church. This is an exciting time!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Good Hope in Godthåb

Define church planting in Denmark, and you inevitably find dedicated couples like Mikael and Hanna Thomsen.

If you know where to look.

Like many small church plants, they meet in a living room – a setting they’re gladly outgrowing. For Mikael and Hanna, growth means finding a new place for their congregation, a place they have not yet located – and which they likely cannot yet afford. Since both of them necessarily must keep working their full-time jobs, they also struggle to find time for the growing needs of a growing congregation.

Yet those are good problems, the kind of challenges most church planters dream of. That doesn’t make it any easier for the fledgling reformed Baptist congregation in the village of Godthåb, some 10 kilometers south of Aalborg in northern Jylland. (See map here.) The Thomsens started “Nordkirken” (The North Church) last year as an outgrowth of a larger Baptist congregation in Bjerringbro, about 80 kilometers away.

What is on Mikael’s prayer list today?

“We need wisdom in leading the church and keeping it healthy,” he tells Pray for Denmark. “We have a desire to reach the lost in our village, and we need wisdom in our approach to evangelism.”

Right now the small congregation meets twice a month in Mikael and Hannah’s home to worship and share a meal, and at least once a month for Bible study. They’re obviously serious about applying God’s Word to their lives together, serious about reaching out to the community around them.

They’re also dedicated to a serious church measuring tool called “9Marks,” which Mikael says helps to define success apart from statistics or emotional descriptions. To churches like Nordkirken, 9Marks provides a Biblical context to issues like salvation, discipleship, theology, and leadership.

Of course there is much more to be done in Godthåb, but the town’s name (translated “Good Hope”) seems apt. As Mikael says, “There are always challenges in such a start-up process.”

PRAY for Mikael and Hanna as they make new contacts and friends in Godthåb. PRAY for wisdom and protection.

PRAY that others will find the new church, and come to know Christ as a result.

PRAY that Nordkirken will find a new, larger place to meet, and for the funds to make their new place a reality.

PRAY for other small church start-ups like Nordkirken, scattered throughout the country.  

PRAY that God will reach many hearts through these new beginnings, and that a tidal swell of faithful small churches will continue to grow.