Tag Archives: kristen

Positive trend of EFK and New Life Stockholm…but

According to the Christian Daily Dagen and my friend Stefan there has been a positive trend in the development of the EFK denomination. There has been some numeral growth from 31 283 membes to 31 616 and baptisms from 514 to 586 in comparison to the previous year. New Life Stockholm, the church where I am one of the pastors was mentioned too; 800 visitors during our worship services on Sundays…

Here I need to give a rectification: we do have approx. 800 visitors to our worship services but these are held at different times and days; our Ethiopian service is held on Saturdays at 16.00, our main Swe/Eng worship meetings Sundays at 10 & 12.30, the Mongolian meeting at 12.15, the Russian meeting at 15.30 and the French/Swe meeting at 15.30. Just to avoid any misunderstandings if people wonder; I was there, but where were the other 799?

Welcome anyway!

John

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Jonas Gardell: human-affirming sliced gospel pieces

My friend, colleague and co-founder of the Stockholm2020 network Stefan Swärd has “found” the time to write an interesting article on the Jonas Gardell phenomenon. I must say that also Stefan at times is a little too focused on Jonas as does the rest of our Christian minority. Also Marcus Birro has a lot to say about his experiences with Jonas’ program and his view on what Gardell is trying to do. I agree we should stop whining about Gardell and start living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the Gospel of the Cross (with a capital C). The tremendous overflow of opinions on mister Gardell, his praxis, his beliefs or should I say heresies (?), including this one, yet another opinion… all of this is a symbol of something else…

I believe it is the consequence of a lack of a solid view on what the Church is all about and what the Church is called to do.  Swedish Christianity and this includes the Free Churches are prone to shifting their views and praxis with every new book people read and every new conference that leaders participate in. With the lack of awareness of our mission (Missio Dei) and the continuation of the Jesus’ mission in our world through us, His body, we give room for others to enter the arena with messages that tickle the ears of people and please people’s appetites. Jonas knows what to present and knows what people want to hear and gets every point across as an wide-open media highway is prepared for him to present his politically correct views in a very smart and enhancing way.

If we would only “do God’s will”, by living out the tremendous presence of God and the fruit of Kingdom in our lives, the surge for “Gardell-like-theology” would be quenched as people would look for real and life transforming encounters with God instead of human-affirming sliced gospel pieces wrought in brokenness and rebellion.

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Dagens Nyheter puts Li Changqing the 2008 Golden Pen of Freedom price winner behind bars…

Dagens Nyheter puts Li Changqing, a Chinese journalist, who went to prison for reporting on a health threat before Chinese authorities announced it, who had been awarded the 2008 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers behind bars. Papers from all over the world as well as in Sweden (here, here, here, here and here) took the opportunity to high-light this occasion and to use it to expose the censorship and suffering that many undergo in China because of their opinions and writings.

Ironically the same accusations against freedom of press which are made against the Chinese regime are practiced by so-called ambassadors of freedom, namely Dagens Nyheter. (The largest daily paper in Sweden which prouds itself to be one of the forerunners of freedom of Press!) DN puts Li Changqing behind invisible bars as they silence him and remove from his statement that which doesn’t fit them.

This is typically an occasion of so called freedom of speech and writing which I addressed the other day in a blog called “Is freedom of speech in Sweden a farce?”

In the blog I wrote: “The rights of freedom of speech and press are practiced as long as we conform to that which is the norm, as long as we are politically correct, our voices will be heard through the spoken and written word. If we don’t conform we are silenced, ignored or attacked.”

In the case of Li Changqing DN says that they published the whole text of his address. THIS IS NOT TRUE, The Christian Daily Dagen identified this as a problem! DN removed the text where Li Changqing shares about his dark hours and how Jesus Christ turned his life around.

He said: “In 1992, my life had also welcomed a great event when I, extremely weak and dark in my spiritual world, became a Christian due to the compassion of Jesus Christ. He restored my conscience, allowing me to walk in the light. He rectified the relationship between my world and my spirit and with an insight coming from above helped me traverse obstacle after bewildering obstacle for a more penetrating view of the world. Hence, I am convinced that only the truth can save us! Only with the truth can we surpass narrow partisan doctrines and break through ideological barriers”.

It is obvious that DN thinks this is not politically correct or not within their perception of what they want to endorse or allow their readers to read! Wow! That’s called outright censorship!

For the whole text in English of Li Changqing’s address click here.

Unfortunately I get only confirmed in my views on press and media in our nation. This shows again how we in a small country can be really small in mind! Let the Truth be heard on the streets!

That’s the Way I see it!

John






Ministering as a leader in a leader-hostile environment…

In the latest article on Livets Ord in the Christian Daily “Dagen”, we read about “Power” or more specific about leadership. I am one of the leaders in a multi-cultural church with a majority of Swedish members and others representing approximately 40 nations. Within this context we are learning a lot about leadership. As leaders in our different churches we are called to contextualize our way of being Church, being leaders and also how we present the message that God has entrusted to us through His word. Like I said, we are learning a lot about leadership (mainly through mistakes) as we are facing expectations, demands, theological viewpoints and experiences of cultural emphasized ways of leadership.

First of all it is important to conclude that there is more to leadership and even Biblical leadership that what we perceive to be true within our Swedish cultural context. There are many people in our churches who are used to the fact that leadership is exercised through consensus. Actually we are brought up in that kind of social environment which, if one dares to be honest, is far removed from the Biblical perspective on leadership. I dare say that we have a leadership hostile environment within the nation which has also permeated the Church in Sweden.

I have lived and ministered in five different nations (Holland, Sweden, USA, the Philippines and Japan) and besides that ministered in another 15-20 nations. In all of these nations there have been very different perspectives on what Christian leadership (or Biblical leadership) is all about. Even within our own church we have the two extremes with groups of people who have the deepest conviction that the pastor is to tell what is to happen while at the same time we have many who will always look for total consensus in vision, decisions and processes.

The fact of the matter is that many of our opinions about leadership in Sweden are culturally, rather than Biblically determined. It is not strange that a leadership style as practiced by Ulf Ekman is questioned, evaluated and scrutinized until the bone by many of us who are culturally inclined to go against any form of leadership which is not based on consensus. To my opinion; Sweden is a leadership hostile environment! Many of my Swedish (!) colleagues who are part of other church traditions than Livets Ord express so often their frustration how difficult it is to be a leader in a church in Sweden, and many actually leave the ministry because they cannot cope with the mechanisms of leadership within the rather rigid structures and praxis that we have formed within our churches.

Having said that, how do I look at leadership? Here are some pointers:

All the effective leaders I have encountered-both those I worked with and those I merely watched-knew four simple things:

1. The only definition of a leader is someone who has “followers”. Some people are thinkers. Some are prophets. Both roles are important and badly needed. But without followers, there can be no leaders.

2. An effective leader is not someone who is loved or admired. He or she is someone “whose followers” do the right things. Popularity is not leadership. Results are.

3. Leaders are highly visible. They therefore set examples.

4. Leadership is not rank, privileges, titles, or money. It is responsibility.

Another main question is what do these leaders do?
Regardless of their almost limitless diversity with respect to personality, style, abilities, and interests, the effective leaders I have met, worked with, and observed also behaved much the same way:

1. They did not start out with the question, “What do I want?” They started out asking, “What needs to be done?

2. Then they asked, “What can and should I do to make a difference?” This has to be something that both needs to be done and fits the leader’s strengths and the way she or he is most effective.

3. They constantly asked, “What are the organization’s mission and goals.

4. They were extremely tolerant of diversity in people and did not look for carbon copies of themselves. It rarely even occurred to them to ask, “Do I like or dislike this person?”

5. They were not afraid of strength in the people working with them. Whether they had heard of it or not, their motto was what Andrew Carnegie wanted to have put on his tombstone: “Here lies a man who attracted better people into his service than he was himself.”

6. One way or another, they submitted themselves to the “mirror test“-that is, they made sure that the person they saw in the mirror in the morning was the kind of person they wanted to be, respect, and believe in. This way they equipped themselves against the leader’s greatest temptations-to do things that are popular rather than right things.

7. Finally, these effective leaders were not preachers; they were doers. I read a story the other day about a student who had read different historical books, he said: “Every one of these books says that the Great War was a war of total military incompetence. Why was it?” The teacher did not hesitate a second but shot right back, “Because not enough generals were killed; they stayed way behind the lines and let others do the fighting and dying.”

Dear friends, if we want to look at this difficult and complex subject of Biblical leadership let us ask ourselves; “Am I willing to die for the sheep that God has entrusted us/me?” If you can say “Yes” you might be on your way becoming a leader God has set His heart on!

That’s the Way I see it for now… God bless you,

John

PS… Check my article about leadership and an invitation to become a member of an union for pastors here in Sweden. DS


Salvation through Christ Alone? Debating the uniqueness of Christ in Multi-Faith Britain!

The Church of England, what a challenge! I am happy that we some years ago have been able to burry the Swedish State church… now all churches are “free-churches”. Because of the fact that we (England and Sweden) both had “State churches” we find many similarities between us. It is therefore that I with interest follow what is happening in England. I know of the different theological stands in the Church of England and I am wondering how long these differences can be contained within one and the same church body.

With that in mind I want to call to your attention yet another challenge that is to be faced by this diverse church body. This coming July during their General Synod Paul Eddy, a lay theological student from Winchester who wants to become a priest is asking the all deciding question to the church body: “Is there Salvation through Christ alone?”

Through a “Private Member’s Motion” he has secured the signatures necessary to force the General Synod to deal with his motion. The contend of it might be shown to be dynamite within the Synod it reads: ‘That this Synod request the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.’

It is all about the Gospel itself and the specific question concerns the evangelization of Muslims. In the end, the outcome of this debate may, more than anything else, determine the future of the Church of England.

The motion has been condemned by many in the church and the Daily Mail [London] reports that liberal bishops attempted to discourage members from signing the motion. Nevertheless, the motion is now set and the General Synod will vote on whether the Church of England should evangelize Muslims.

The Daily Mail writes:

[Mr. Eddy] said that the active recruitment of non-believers and adherents of other faiths had always been a Biblical injunction on Christians, commanded by Christ himself.

But he claimed that many bishops were downplaying the missionary role of the Church and official documents often glossed over the requirement to convert Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or followers of other religions.

He warned that the central role of Christianity in Britain was being eroded, and by ‘allowing the rise of another religion in our country, all that Britain stands for is up for grabs.’

Mr. Eddy’s motion has found support among at least some bishops, including the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali. Bishop Nazir-Ali, born in Pakistan, is the only Asian-born bishop in the Church of England. In response to Mr. Eddy’s motion, the Bishop argued that the Church of England has failed in its responsibility to “welcome people of other faiths.” He suggested that the church had “gone too far” in responding to the sensitivities of British Muslims.

He also said, “Our nation is rooted in the Christian faith and that is the basis of welcoming people of other faiths. You cannot have an honest conversation on the basis of fudge.”

For more news read> and the BBC

Today it is Britain, what will we face tomorrow in many of our churches in Sweden? The signs of the times say it all…

That’s the Way I see it!

John

A call on pastors not to restrict research to create biological children in laboratories.

The Telegraph addresses the request of a group of influential scientists to not restrict important research… The article goes on to state that this new scientific technique could allow same-sex parents to create their own biological child in a laboratory.

The influential scientists belong to the Hinxton group which is a clearing house, facilitating communication among scientists, policymakers, journal editors and the public about international scientific collaboration in the area of stem cell research. —- They know exactly the implications of the kind of research they want to do:

“Advances in PSC-derived gamete research may facilitate applications directed towards ends that will be socially controversial, such as germ line genetic modification for the correction of disease mutations, introduction of disease resistance, other forms of biological enhancement, increased possibilities for embryo selection or the birth of genetic offspring of same-sex parents.”

The Hinxton group is a well-thought through, strategic and powerful group which has set its agenda to change their (our) world step by step. They are very conscious about the different development in this area throughout the world. They report on country by country in regard to the laws and regulations as they set new goals to get socially controversial proposals accepted.

The whole idea is that of slow adaptation. You remember the story of the boiling frog? (First The phrase was first coined by Roger Ford, columnist for Modern Railways magazine). The boiling frog story states that a frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough — it is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out.

The story is generally told in a figurative context, with the upshot being that people should make themselves aware of gradual change lest they suffer a catastrophic loss. Often it is used to illustrate a slippery-slope argument. Among others Al Gore uses the analogy in his presentations and the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”… as a warning against inaction in response to climate change.

Slowly but surely we are enticed by the things the world offers, slowly we can brought into a spirit of slumber which clouds our discernment and perspective. Almost unnoticeable we have become immune to the thoughts and deeds of humankind against their Maker as they want to replace Him with creations of their own. “Creating sperm from female instead of male cells could take longer but was still “possible”, they said.” (This reminds me of Romans 1)

What is my point? It is interesting that the Hinxton group appeals to ministers to not get in the way of this kind of research and development. It is interesting that they realize that this group of people and the people these ministers represent (those made in the image of God) might have a thing or two to say about the way things go in our world!

This leads me to yet another conclusion: Don’t hold back! Keep speaking; keep fighting for that which is righteous and just! Don’t let anyone, anything keep you away to speak light into the darkness! There is power in the appeals and prayers of the righteous. Let us therefore not follow the (politically correct) agenda of the world but be open to speak up on behalf of God, his people and His creation.

This is the Way I see it!

John