Over the past 12 months I’ve had the privilege of travelling to several cities in Northern Europe. All of them in significant need of more gospel-centred churches.
The Kingdom of Denmark has a population of around 5.6 million people and nearly a third of them live in and around the capital, Copenhagen. This makes it the second largest city in Scandinavia (after Stockholm), one of Northern Europe’s key trade & financial centres and is home to the region’s busiest airport.
At around 900 years old Copenhagen has some history to it and like most major European cities bears the scars of fires and war. Sandwiched between two larger and often aggressive neighbours (Germany & Sweden), Denmark has made its mark as a seafaring kingdom and has, in the past, been considerably larger than it is today. Greenland and the Faroe Islands are the remnants of its overseas territories.
Today, Copenhagen is a world leader in shipping, design, architecture and clean-technology. It’s citizens enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world (which is just as well as it’s also one of the most expensive cities to live in) and are often cited as the happiest people on the planet. Although they also have the highest rate of anti-depressant prescriptions which may explain things.
According to Wikipedia around 61% of Copenhagers are members of the state Lutheran Church, which is much lower than the 79% national average. The state church is pretty liberal theologically even allowing priests who do not believe in God to minister. Probably less than 5% attend church on any given Sunday, Operation World puts it at 2%. There’s a sizeable Muslim population in Copenhagen of around 150-200,000.
On the whole though, Denmark and Copenhagen are very secular places and getting a reputation for offending the religious, notably when cartoons of the prophet Muhammad were published causing riots worldwide.
A trawl of the internet didn’t reveal too many figures but here are a few. Peder Palldius oversaw the translation of the Bible into Danish after the Reformation came to Denmark in 1537. A tradition carried on by Arnarsaq who helped the Danes translate the Bible into Inuit.
The figure of Soren Kierkegaard, however towers over them all and I may well post about him separately, but suffice to say, that few if any Danes have had as profound an impact on western thought than Kierkegaard. His critique of Christendom still rings true as does his call to reintroduce real Christianity that centres on an encounter with and obedience to the person of Jesus Christ.
Praying for Copenhagen
Our city has the lowest church attendance numbers in all of Denmark, and is also the city where church-closings happen most often. There are very few Gospel-centred, evangelical churches here. Way too few considering the population of the city. We love our city and know that the greatest need of the people here is for the Gospel of Jesus. We also know that planting gospel-centred churches, communities of Christians on mission together making disciples, is the primary way that the Gospel will spread among the people here.
We also have a lot to thank God for. There are a number of new churches that have been planted in recent years, and it seems that there are more in the works. Our church, Københavner Kirken is also growing quite a lot. So we are looking forward and hoping to send more people out to plant!
We need the Holy Spirit to bring revival among the hearts of Christians so they would start to be passionate about being missionaries in everyday life together in community. Please pray that God would raise up more qualified men and women to plant gospel-centred communities. Ultimately, we are praying for revival.
For more prayer points check out Operation World’s entry for Denmark.