Having a great time here in Denmark. On Monday, I spoke on emerging church issues to a group of church planters and other interested parties in Copenhagen. They were open and engaged, although our contextual differences were soon apparent. My host, Thomas Willer, opened by reading a bit from Soren Ostergaard’s dissertation on Danish church plants in which Soren argues that the gospel is “radical contextualization.”
I heartily concurred. The Danes (as has been my experience elsewhere in the world recently (Singapore and South Africa)) have been too easily co-opted by American models of church growth and revitalization. I pleaded that those of us from the US version of emergent church not be another in a long line of Americans offering a model. We’re not offering a model, we’re offering friendship. So, if you’re looking for friends around the globe as you rethink church in your context, I said, then emergent is for you. Here’s a pic of the Copenhagen group:
One of the interesting things I’ve had to think through on this trip so far is the relationship between emergent thinking and charismaticism. The charismatic movement, particularly in its British “apostolic” form (as opposed, for instance, to the Vineyard) is very robust here — well, I should say, robust among the small minority of Danes who are not part of the national Lutheran church. There’s much talk about a church in Sheffield, U.K. who has developed this movement. My background is so thoroughly uncharistmatic that I always have to try extra hard to communicate faithfully in this idiom. More on this later…
Early Tuesday morning, we travelled three hours by train to Jutland, the northwest part of Denmark — kind of the equivalent to the Midwest, it’s more agricultural, people a bit more conservative (in lifestyle, not politics). I spent Tuesday with a group of church planters in this area around Arhus. Today (Wednesday) will be with a new group in Arhus around issues of youth ministry, tomorrow at a Pentecostal Bible college, and Friday in Oslo, Norway.
Anyway, the hosts here are fantastically hospitable, the food exceptional (two types of herring at lunch on Monday!), and the beer…. mmm, what to say?… it’s wonderful, and it comes in very large glasses!