Sunday, November 30, 2014

Missional Denmark?

Do we worry first about ourselves first, or look outward to the mission and calling of Jesus? Next month, Danish church leaders must ask themselves that question as they come together for a hard look at the focus of their church. Judging by their choice of a main speaker, it looks like something called the “missional movement” will flavor their perspective.

And that’s a good thing. This movement emphasizes mission and outreach over buildings, budgets, and programs. It’s disciple-making at its core, becoming the sent people of Jesus to a world that needs him – in the world, but not of it. It’s all about the mission.

Thus the invitation to Alan Hirsch, a South Africa-born writer and leader in the missional movement. He’s the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network, and co-leads an effort to help churches become more mission-focused, called Future Travelers.

“I’ve been to Denmark a couple of times,” he told potential conference-goers in a video. “I love the country. We’re going to be talking about the essentials of the missional movement. We’ll look at all things in a new light, and hopefully find renewal in our love for God, love for Jesus, and our commitment to follow Him and change the world in his name.”

Sponsored by LederOase (Leader Oasis), the gathering is planned for January 24 at the Scandic Hotel in København.

PRAY that more and more Danish churches would look beyond themselves and catch the vision to reach out to their communities, searching out real needs.

PRAY that many would attend this conference and be inspired to make a difference. Pray for representatives from a wide variety of denominations, and from fellowships of all sizes.

PRAY for Alan Hirsch, that he would connect to the group and understand their perspectives. Pray that there would be no language barrier. Pray for his health and safety.

PRAY that God would use this key event as a spark to ignite renewal and outreach in the Danish church!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Acting Up

You may not hear his name mentioned at next year’s Academy Awards. But a young Danish actor is using his talent and humor in a way that is reaping more lasting rewards than any golden trophy.

Today Jens Jødal is criss-crossing his small country, putting on biblically themed one-man shows and larger theatrical productions through a ministry called Kirketeateret (“The Church Theater”). And he goes where the people are, bringing his unique energy and humor to church services, youth groups, outdoor summer camps, and schools. He offers a gospel message many young Danes (and their parents) may never have heard before.  

In one show, Jødal is the apostle Peter, demonstrating what it’s like to struggle as a flawed follower of Jesus. In another, he’s the good Samaritan (and the Samaritan’s donkey). He’s Moses, the prodigal son, or Daniel. He makes his audiences laugh. But before the laughter trails away, he also makes them think.

And it’s not just Bible-based shows, either. Jødal and his crew are leading Easter and drama workshops, musicals, even worship opportunities for teens. He’s challenging young people (as well as adults) by pulling them into the stories -- and the truth -- of the Bible. 

“It needs to be interesting to capture young people,” he says. “Preaching can certainly be entertaining, and entertainment can be preaching. My specialty is to provide preaching and entertainment -- at the same time!” 

PRAY for Jens Jødal and his ministry, that many young people and their families will be introduced to the truth of the Bible through drama. 

PRAY that God would enlarge this ministry and open new doors into new venues where the unchurched will hear the gospel. 

PRAY that God would draw even the entertainers and actors closer to himself through this entertainment, for changed lives and revival in Denmark.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

How About That Danish Music?

You may have read about new young Danish worship leaders, and how Christians across the country are beginning to create genuinely Danish church music -- worship music that reaches Danish hearts. That’s a wonderfully healthy sign that God is stirring hearts.

To be sure, there’s also a good deal of international influence in Danish church growth and worship, places where songs from the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. are sung in English. The growing Hillsong fellowship in København is a prime example. And God is doing great things there.

But how about that Danish music? Here’s a wonderful project that’s collecting some of the best examples of today’s Danish worship music: Stille Stunder (“Quiet Moments”). They’re hoping to build up the Danish church across denominational lines:
1.     Through their YouTube channel, featuring music videos of leading Danish worship musicians. Latest add is a wonderful tune from Arvid Asmussen of Aarhus Valgmenighed.
2.     Through their Facebook page, which features behind-the-scenes looks at featured artists and videos. It’s in Danish, but you can get the idea.
3.     Through a working partnership with Brighter, a yearly renewal and discipleship conference for young people organized by the Skywalk Church in Randers. The conference is coming up October 15-18.

The most encouraging part about Stille Stunder is their Christ-centered, big picture view. They want to build up not only their own young church in Randers, but churches all over the country, in the name of Jesus. Please pray for them.

PRAY for this new generation of Danish musicians and worship leaders, that they will use their music to spotlight Jesus, and not themselves.

PRAY for the people behind Stille Stunder, that God would prosper this exciting new ministry and use it to bring many to Christ.

PRAY for Brighter, that young lives will be changed this year and that the Danish church will be strengthened as a result.

PRAY that God would use this music to revive his church in Denmark.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

They're Leaving Denmark

Young Danish college students have started a new term at the International Apostolic Bible College in Kolding. But they’re not staying in Denmark. Many are learning how to share their faith far beyond their little country.

Before you pray for these young believers, watch this short video (it’s in English) to get a feel for their adventurous, outgoing faith.

This year the Danish team plans to visit countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia from November 7 through December 15 to serve the poor through evangelism and work teams. They’ll work in slums, churches, and orphanages.

And the ripple effect continues. One IABC alum explained that he’s now married, working as a youth pastor, and arranging mission trips “so people can meet Jesus.” He caught the vision during an IABC mission trip. 

The Bible college, while primarily made up of Danish students, also attracts young people from throughout Europe and beyond. Although instructors are Danish, because of the school’s multinational approach, their teaching is in English.

Take a look here and here at some of their testimonies, and you will be encouraged by Danish young people who love Jesus and are seeking to serve him in their own land -- and around the world.

Why is this so important? Because when God brings revival to the Danish church, it will follow that believers become focused on reaching out in the name of Christ, from their neighborhoods to around the world. The purpose of God in reaching all people, everywhere will become a driving force. So let’s pray that these missions-minded students are the future of a Danish church that is healthy, growing, and outward-focused.

PRAY for this fall’s incoming class at the Bible college in Kolding, that God will move young hearts to reach out around the world.

PRAY that these young people will return to their homes strengthened and energized in their faith, that that they will have a huge impact on the global vision of their local churches.

PRAY for their protection and safety as they travel to Asia in a few weeks.

PRAY that God will raise up an outward-focused, missions-minded church in Denmark.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Transforming Danish Women

In a few weeks, hundreds of women from all across Denmark will gather in København for “Forvandling” (Transformation), the largest yearly Christian conference exclusively for women in Denmark. It’s a chance to enjoy life-changing Bible-based teaching and a chance to make new friends in a bi-cultural, Danish/English atmosphere. 

They listen to challenging speakers in Danish and English. They laugh. They’re pampered. They enjoy worship in a much larger group of believers than most are used to. According to founder Merete Tangstad, Forvandling encourages women of all ages to live out their God-given gifts, to have faith in God’s love that works through each of us, and then to make a difference in and through their local churches.

“We are women who will write history,” she said, “and when we act together, we can be the difference the world yearns for.” 

So yes, it sounds like a lot of fun. But it may be that outward focus that keeps women returning to the conference since it started in 2007. It’s designed to make an impact far beyond September 25 through 27.

“It’s really helped me in my everyday life,” explained Sissel, a young participant from rural north Jylland. “Especially at school, where I’m the only Christian. But also when I have to make decisions about which way I should go.” 

Though the event is sponsored by the independent Kirken i Kulturcenteret (The Church in the Cultural Center) in the Nørrebro district of the city, it’s staffed by believers (especially men) from a wide variety of churches.

Check out this video for a taste of the kind of bilingual sessions women enjoy at the conference. Then… 

PRAY that many women will be drawn to attend, and that their lives will be changed. 

PRAY that these women will return to their families and churches strengthened in their faith and effective in their witness. 

PRAY that relationships will be kindled and strengthened. 

PRAY for healing and restoration in their families. 

PRAY for the volunteer staff, speakers, and worship leaders, that God will also bless them in their service. 

PRAY that God’s Holy Spirit might use this conference to bring revival in Denmark.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Church Building for 18 Cents

Believers around the small coastal town of Løgstør (population 4,284) knew they had outgrown the old school building they’d been meeting in since 2004. So they gathered their finances and bought a new church building … for 1 krone.

About 18 cents.

The 18-cent church building
Of course, the transaction with a gracious seller was largely symbolic. And this growing fellowship in coastal northern Sjaelland is putting the new space to good use. But there’s something else that’s quite different about Løgstør Frikirke (Free Church).

Just the fact that they’re growing is unusual enough. After all, Løgstør isn’t a big city like København or Aarhus, and they don’t draw from large urban crowds. But every Sunday their church bus visits surrounding small towns of Hornum, Års, Farsø, and Ranum, gathering worshippers.

The church was started in 2001 by Birgit and Ove Petersen, along with their friend Ejnar Kristensen, who had been praying earnestly for his hometown of Løgstør for the previous 10 years.

Pastor Brodersen
Today his prayers are being answered in the charismatic fellowship that’s built around small groups and enthusiastic outreach. They describe themselves as a “living, multiethnic fellowship of believers” and they see people’s differences as a blessing, never a hindrance. One look at their worship service tells the story. Besides Pastor René Brodersen, staff includes Justin Shiko Lokana and Bhim Bahhadur Baraily -- hardly typical Danish names.

The multi-ethnic emphasis is their strength. Pray that they will continue to grow in their “new” building, offering a radical example of unity to unchurched people in their region of Denmark.

PRAY for Pastor Brodersen, for wisdom and vision as this local church reaches out across racial and ethnic lines.

PRAY for unity in this church, that their small groups would attract a wonderful mix of people who need and love Jesus.

PRAY for Løgstør Free Church leadership, for unity in vision and purpose.

PRAY that young people and others who attended this year’s summer camp (July 12-18), will now grow in their faith.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

It's a hotel. No, it's a church!

What are they doing in that luxury hotel? Earlier this year, the 250-member Evangeliske Frikirke (Evangelical Free Church) in Randers took over the public level of the 130-room Scandic Hotel, turning it into a worship and fellowship center, as well as a gathering place for their growing youth programs.

“It’s a really good solution for us,” said church spokesman Jan Vestergaard. “It gives us plenty of room and settings for the church’s many activities.”

They’re starting with a one-year lease, which takes them through 2014. After that? The group hasn’t been afraid to move around town for the past century. They’re one of the country’s oldest free churches (not associated with the state Lutheran church and accountable for their own finances). In the past two years they’ve moved from a much smaller church building, to a car dealership, and now to the expansive three-star hotel facility.

Part of the motivation for moving was to find a place for Skywalk, their “church within a church” aimed at young adults. Like the larger church, the group is unapologetically biblical, Jesus-centered, and outreach-oriented. They’re meeting on Friday evenings for lively worship, and in homes for cell group Bible studies. They’re organizing school outreach groups and producing their own worship music albums. They're reaching out to their community in mentoring programs and supporting church planting in Pakistan. They’ve even created an outreach-oriented app for smartphones, designed to point the way to Christ in everyday life. To multiply the work, now they’re starting a second Friday night outreach service at another location, Skywalk Nord.

“We went to church for Christmas, weddings, and confirmations, so I knew there was a God,” explained a 22-year-old Skywalker. “But I didn’t know there was a God who loved me more than my wildest imagination. That all changed when I was introduced to Skywalk.”

As their outreach video says, Skywalk is a family of young people, driven by an unconditional love -- a love that reaches out, and invites us to live a life, not for ourselves, but for something so much bigger.

As their t-shirts say, “Jeg har besluttet at følge Jesus.” I have decided to follow Jesus.

PRAY for the Evangeliske Frikirke in Randers, that God would continue to bless them in their outreach to the community.

PRAY for the Skywalk ministry, that many more young people would come to know Christ. And pray for the new Skywalk Nord ministry, that many would come that their hearts and lives would be changed.

PRAY for church leadership in Randers, that they would continue to put Jesus first, and that they would remain clear in their vision for outreach.

PRAY for revival in the Evangeliske Frikirke!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jesus on the (Net) Radio

What started out as a modest Christian radio station in Aarhus has spread to reach all of Denmark in a format that includes Bible reading, teaching, contemporary Christian music, and lively young radio hosts.

Beyond the local Aarhus area, Kristen Netradio ( now broadcasts its programs over the Internet, which means they’re potentially reaching anyone in Denmark with a web connection or a smartphone. KNR is a self-supporting group within the Inner Mission Lutheran renewal movement, staffed by an energetic crew of young believers, all focused on reaching out with the good news of Jesus to a generation that still has not found its way to faith. Or to a church.

And everyone on the volunteer staff is thrilled at the opportunity.

“In radio, we have a unique platform to reach people with the gospel,” said Morten Vibert, one of the volunteer radio hosts, “We can reach into people’s living rooms and show them the way God wants them to go.”

It all starts on “Munter Mandag,” (Monday Cheer) a morning show that blends contemporary Christian music with plenty of friendly talk, jokes, and a good dose of Bible reading -- a non-threatening introduction to God’s Word. The morning hosts throw in their unique blend of laughs, trivia, friendly banter, and a contest or two.

“It’s a different way to present the Christian message,” said Monday host Steffen Iversen. “We’re having a good time as we do the program.”

So yes, they’re all having a lot of fun, in an atmosphere that appeals to their young audience. At the same time, they’re dedicated to seeing lives changed through the unique power of music and the good news of Jesus Christ.

PRAY for this excited crew of young people, that their message of hope would reach into every corner and remote island of their country. Pray for Lars, Søren, Betina, Steffen, Nanna, Morten, and Andreas.

PRAY for funding, that KNR would continue to be able to grow and expand their programming.

PRAY for volunteers; the station always needs technical and programming help, as well as on-air talent. Pray for unity among the staff.

PRAY for wisdom and clear direction, that KNR would continue to follow Christ’s leading to reach the unreached across Denmark.

PRAY for revival to spread as a result of KNR broadcasts, and that many would hear, understand, and accept the message. Pray that even those who aren’t looking for God would come across KNR and hear the good news.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Camp meeting, Danish-style

Please start praying now for one of the highlights of the Danish summer: The annual “SommerOase” camp gathering, planned this year for July 12-19. It’s one of many Christian summer camps and events, and probably the largest.

photo: Jesper Rais
SommerOase is sure to draw hundreds of families -- including parents, kids, and youth groups -- for open air and tent meetings and worship in a large field near Odder (south of Aarhus).

This year’s theme is “Kongen og Korset” (The King and the Cross), a back-to-basics emphasis that seems especially appropriate in a country where even some church leaders and pastors seem confused about who Jesus really is.
“We want to celebrate Jesus as our king and honor him as our savior, who died on the cross for us,” explained DanskOase General Secretary Karsten Bach. “After all, that’s the essence of our faith.”

Worship leader Arvid Asmussen echoes Bach’s focus on the essence of faith, even as he prepares new music for the event and gets ready to lead worship times there.

“Lately, I think God has called me back to the foot of the cross,” he said, “where I’ve again come in contact with my own inadequacy, and have rediscovered Jesus as my savior. The answer is still ‘Jesus.’ There is no other way to the Father. There is no one like Jesus, who teaches me to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Featured speaker is Ajith Fernando, internationally known author, speaker, and theologian. He leads Youth for Christ in his native Sri Lanka.

Kongen og Korset. It all adds up to a unique opportunity for renewal, revival, and spiritual growth.

PRAY for many unsaved and spiritually hungry to attend – and that their Christian friends will be bold enough to invite them along. PRAY that many will come to Christ this summer, or rededicate their lives to him.

PRAY that families will be strengthened and for Christians to grow in their faith.

PRAY for SommerOase leadership, that they’ll be sensitive to God’s leading, focusing on what the Lord wants from this event. PRAY for plenty of volunteers to help run events.

PRAY that Christians of different denominations will come together in unity here in a fun, camp atmosphere.

KEEP PRAYING until this event is over, July 20!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Balloons, anyone?

They’re the ones sharing the gospel every year at popular Danish campgrounds and public venues, organizing outreach events and concerts, wading into vacation crowds with good news booklets, telling the story of Jesus through puppets, balloons, and any other way that has a chance of reaching the hearts of Danish young people and families. And this year Friluftsmissionen -- the Danish branch of Open Air Campaigners International -- turns 20.

Happy birthday! (Or as they say in Denmark, tillykke!) The 2014 calendar is full. Their signature “Jesperhus Gospel” event is planned for June 9 this year at the Jesperhus vacation park and gardens on Mors Island. Now in its fifteenth year, and in cooperation with local churches, they’re bringing praise music, a gospel choir, puppet theater, and much more to this festive outdoor venue. In addition, a summer team outreach is planned for July 7-18 at the lovely Gammelbro campground in southern Denmark, near the sea at Årøsund. The Friluftsmission team has also been active in urban youth evangelism, in cooperation with kids from the Inner Mission Lutheran renewal organization.

And that seems to be the strength of this vital ministry: working with a wide spectrum of Christians across Denmark -- from committed Lutherans in the state church, to free church youth groups. And because of their commitment to camp and street outreach, they’re coming in contact with families and young people who might otherwise never consider stepping foot in a church building. Although they don’t consider themselves a church, the Friluftsmission workers play a critical role in building up the Danish church.

Keep in mind that most Danes treasure their summer outdoor and camping experiences. That’s part of the reason why the Friluftsmission approach is so strategic in this country. Believers from the Friluftsmission are going to where the people are, meeting them where they’re at. So they need all the prayer support we can offer.

PRAISE GOD for 20 years of successful ministry in Denmark, pointing people to Jesus, one camper (or pedestrian) at a time.

PRAY for Torben Østermark, who faithfully heads this ministry. Ask God to give him strength and vision as they reach out this summer, and throughout the rest of the year.

PRAY especially for the Jesperhus Gospel event in June and the Gammelbro campground outreach in July, that God would soften the hearts and open the ears of many who will follow Christ through these events.

PRAY that the good partnerships between the Friluftsmission and Danish churches would continue to increase and flourish. Pray for more open doors of cooperative efforts between the two.

PRAY for even more workers and volunteers to join with the Friluftsmission team, so that God might increase the harvest and use this vital support ministry to help bring revival in the Danish church.