The Scandinavian countries are often called among the most secular in the world, with researchers citing the low rate of weekly church attendance (only 3% in Denmark). But what goes on in the state churches is only part of the story of Christianity in northern Europe. There is the church, but there are also the Mission organizations.
The Pietist movement, as early as the 18th century, was accompanied by the rise of independent groups and organizations in which Christian laity met for spiritual growth and good works. In Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, these groups came together as “Mission” organizations and institutionalized themselves as part of the nation’s religious culture.
The “Outer Mission” sent countless missionaries around the world and is largely responsible for Africa today being one of the most Lutheran areas in the world. The “Inner Mission” took on the task of evangelism and promotion of the faith inside their countries.
The state church is theologically liberal. Inner Mission is theologically conservative. [Read more…]