Friday, April 26, 2002

Norway: making disciples of the Vikings

The following is a report from Reinhold Scharnowski, European Coordinator of the Dawn Movement, from the third national Dawn Conference in Kristiansand,
Norway in January 2002:

"Since 1993, a Norwegian team has been working to encourage a national evangelistic process through saturation church planting. During the 1996
conference, younger, radical leaders were reconciled with the more traditional part of Norway's Christians. Around 800 visitors, almost half of whom were under
30, joined the over 230 participants at this year's conference for the plenary sessions. In November 1996, Christian leaders set the target of planting 500 new
churches by 2005; this year, church growth researcher Ommund Rolfsen reported that 146 of these have been planted so far, and that a national process of
church planting has begun - though the target date may need to be put back. The number of new churches each year is growing constantly: between 1983 and 1993,
14 new churches were planted each year; the number is now 23 per year. According to Scharnowski, the most important developments visible at the
conference were:

The Norwegian State Church is planting new churches
Around one quarter of the new churches are being planted by the Norwegian Lutheran State Church. This is surprising for many, because most European state
churches still work with a strict parish system.

The baton is being passed on
The baton is being passed on to the new generation. Stefan Christiansen
reported that the first "Jesus Revolution Church" had been planted in Oslo, with
plans for new churches in Marseille, Barcelona, Milan and Munich as well as more
'New Generation Churches' throughout Norway. Leo Bigger, Swiss church planter
and leader of the ICF Zurich, also spoke about planting churches for the new
generation. In Norway, such new generation churches are no longer viewed as an
unwelcome intruder, but as necessary new forms of church - new wineskins, but
with respect for the old. "During the conference, I regularly saw young leaders
being hugged and blessed by their elders," says Scharnowski.

Strategic unity
There is a strategic unity and growing excitement about reaching the nation through planting all forms of church, from Lutheran through Pentecostal to
completely new forms. Stefan Christiansen, who was viewed as a rebel only a few years ago, today preaches beside a Lutheran Bishop and the leader of the
Pentecostals. Theology and structure gave rise to few discussions; the aim of achieving the unfulfilled missionary task brings great unity. Sten Sörensen,
leader of the Norwegian Dawn team, believes that in 20 years, there will be 1,000 new churches in Norway

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