Tag Archives: New Life Church

Jesusmanifestation: Announce May 2nd as Sweden’s national day of Christian celebration!

The 2009 Jesusmanifestation (here, here, here, here and here) is now bigger than the 1maj demonstration of the Socialistic Party! “Jesus is alive in the media again!” exclaimed Göran Skytte the former atheistic and communistic journalist who has come to a living faith in Jesus Christ. It’s true, but as Skytte emphasized its not necessarily positive coverage about Jesus.

As has been shown throughout history; you can’t keep a good man down! They couldn’t keep Him in the grave and they can’t silence Him even 2000 years after his death!

Personally I am inclined to start talking about a new national holiday of Christian celebration on May 2nd. Why? Because we need at least one day a year where we, free from the normal “religious” traditions, can focus, unite and celebrate the fact that Jesus still cares for our nation and our people.

I am already dreaming about what might take place next year! Jesus was walking the streets of Stockholm and it was a joy to just watch people’s faces as young and old walked through the streets towards Kungsträdgården… – The Garden of the King (of kings).

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Sergels Torg filled with Son Worshippers!

I enjoyed just walking there being part of the crowd… just a few minutes earlier we had finished off a three hour intensive meeting at Sergels Torg where Vineyard, Petruskyrkan, Korskyrkan, Tomaskyrkan, V.E.M. and New Life Church united in presenting Jesus Christ to everyone who was wiling to listen. Personally I have been the MC of the meeting, trying to keep a red thread in this three hour time of worship, testimonies, music, preaching and prayer. It was a joy to be on Plattan… the very place where our church was born years ago.

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Sergels Torg praying together for peope in our nation

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On our way to Kungsträdgården

I just want to wish you God’s blessings… and hope you will join us next year! See you then!

John van Dinther

By the way: Saturday’s congress of the Sverige Demokraterna with 150 participants in Frösundavik outside of Stockholm was in depth evaluated in the national news today while the Jesusmanifestation had it’s 8 seconds of national coverage… quite a development of attention in comparison to none coverage in last year’s reporting by national media!

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The confirmation of a vision – breaking down racism and xenophobia!

New Life Church received on Tuesday June 11 a prize for their ministry against racism and xenophobia from Stockholms Landsting (county council). The Stockholm county is comprised of 1.9 million people and 26 municipalities.

As representative of the church, I went together with four other members to the meeting of the county council where close to 150 political representatives were gathered for their monthly meeting. Here we were honored together with two other individuals and one other organization for our ministry against racism and xenophobia.

The terms “xenophobia” and “racism” are often used interchangeably, though they can have wholly different meanings (xenophobia can be based on various aspects, racism being based solely on race and ancestry). To understand the more in depth meaning of the term “xenophobia” read the explanation below the article.

I wrote in the heading: “The confirmation of a vision – breaking down racism and xenophobia!” for me this prize is an acknowledgement of a deep commitment that we have had as church to break down barriers between individuals and groups in our society through the power which is found in Jesus Christ. Part of our mission statement as church reads: “We see… a church that in tangible ways fulfill the unity in Christ by breaking down barriers and building bridges between different ethnic groups, cultures, languages, gender, social background, generations and personalities”.

Today people from over 40 different nations consider New Life their home while the majority remains Swedish. There is a deep commitment to Sweden and the city of Stockholm. For a more in-depth study on this subject I encourage you to listen to some of the sermons which are freely available on line:

(Check: 2004-02-15 – John van Dinther – A mind blowing urban theology for relationships, 2006-10-15 – John van Dinther – Working for the shalom of the city, 2006-09-17 – John van Dinther – Back to our roots)

Anyway, I just wanted you to know about our thankfulness and excitement to have received this prize; it is an encouragement to the whole church and it spurs us on to continue to be focused on one of our foundational values of being a multi-cultural church deeply rooted in Swedish society!

I hope to hear from you, and feel free to visit us!

God bless you,

John

For xenophobia there are two main objects of the phobia. The first is a population group present within a society that is not considered part of that society. Often they are recent immigrants, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries. This form of xenophobia can elicit or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants, or in the worst case, genocide.

The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien. All cultures are subject to external influences, but cultural xenophobia is often narrowly directed, for instance at foreign loan words in a national language. It rarely leads to aggression against individual persons, but can result in political campaigns for cultural or linguistic purification. Isolationism, a general aversion of foreign affairs, is not accurately described as xenophobia. (According to Wikipedia)

I am ecumenical in spirit, not in structure!


The latest article in the Christian Daily on Livets Ord addresses the ecumenical endeavors of the movement, in the same newspaper we read “How three can become one”… (this sounds very Biblical: Three in One!”) where a process is started to unite the Mission-, the Baptist and Methodist churches into one denomination.

There is so much to say about being ecumenical, about Christian unity and about the importance to recognize and respect one another. I come from a non-Bible-believing Catholic background where “Church” was part of the cultural life of people living in the Southern part of Holland. In our village and in most of the Southern part of Holland in those days (the 70ties) Catholicism had a cultural rather then a spiritual impact on the society and the people. Under my upbringing I did not know even ONE true believer among the thousands of people I knew. Later on as I had become a Christian through the Jesus People Movement I met a few true believers; they believed in Christ as their Savior and Lord and in the Bible as their authority. Actually some of them were nuns who would come by taxi to a bible study which I held shortly after my conversion, another believer was the responsible priest in the St. Jan cathedral in ‘s-Hertogenbosch who became a close friend to my wife and me. (He, together with an older evangelist performed our wedding ceremony in the chapel of the hospital where I was working as a nurse at the time).

As the articles show and as we all know there is a movement towards ecumenism in our nation, the Jesusmanifestation was a fruit of that.

Ecumenical, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary means: representing the whole of a body of churches b: promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation.

However, I need to say that I am not only undivided positive towards this. I identify myself as: “ecumenical in spirit, but not in structure”. With structure I mean the banding of different faiths with different doctrinal statements of truth in form of an organization. I do not believe in that at all, there is a valid reason for organizational separation. I see also an endangering of the absolutes of Scripture. We cannot accommodate everyone and everything. I am totally convinced that Christians who want to accommodate in such ways will soon abandon their beliefs for the sake of unity. Unity is never worth the sacrifice of the authenticity of Scripture! That, in short is my view about structural ecumenism.

In regards to being ecumenical in spirit, I believe that although we are separated denominationally, that there is in fact a “true church” which unites all true believers: Those who have been justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of denominational belonging are already one in Christ and are part of the true Church which is hidden to the human eye.

True Christian believers are always united spiritually as brothers and sisters in Christ despite their denominational belonging or identity. But I do not believe that this will ever express itself in structure here on earth. Because of humankind’s falleness I believe that the true kind of unification will take place as Christ will return to meet His bride (the Church).

I believe strongly in the slogan of the Moravian movement which says:”In essential beliefs we have unity. In non-essential beliefs we have diversity. In all our beliefs we show charity.” This slogan has been my motto since I read about this grant movement, it has permeated the way I think and live and has found its place even in the church where I am pastor. I believe we should work together when possible, but there will continue to be a structural separation because we cannot compromise Truth and accept different doctrines simply in order to have some kind of organizational sameness.

So, I will remain “ecumenical in spirit, but not in structure”.

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Manifesting Jesus in Stockholm on May 3 – for or against?

Jesus manifestation

Preparations have gone on for a long time; one of my best friends has taken the responsibility to take care of all the practical arrangements of this Jesus manifestation in our capitol city. Intercessors have been praying for the event (because that what it is), and have prayed on the 7 squares where meetings will be held simultaneously from 12.00 -14.00 on that Saturday. From three of these squares, marches will be organized and they will at 15.00 converge at “Kungsträdgården” the “garden of the king” in the center of the city. Here we will have a worship service with many of the participants.

Much can be said about this day, opinions about it differ, and some lock themselves in opposite camps trying to sell the idea or telling how things should be done differently.

I REJOICE!

  • I rejoice, not because I find this the most effective and appropriate way to let the people in Sweden know that we as Christian Church exist. But because we are uniting around Jesus Christ and Who He is! The testimony of the attributes of Jesus will be addressed on every square and different churches and groups will somehow be a reflection of the richness and diversity of God Himself and His mind-boggling creation!
  • I rejoice because of the many different ethnic and international groups of believers who will join hands and hearts to proclaim Jesus as Lord!
  • I rejoice because we are doing something! Many of those who are against this kind of manifestation have opinions on what to do, and how to do it. Let’s be honest; they are not particularly known of doing anything at all in regards of furthering the Gospel in our nation!

On Saturday I will be on Sergelstorg, the infamous square in the heart of the city where drug pushers, addicts and many marginalized people hang out mixing with the crowd about to add yet another token on their totem of consumerism as they populate the stores in the center.

On the surface this same square seems to reflect the very heart disease our city is suffering from; a city seemingly filled with people with hearts of stone, indifference and independency… yet, as one comes beyond the facades one finds true people with true issues and questions looking for true answers. (By the way it was on this square that New Life Church was born, the church of which I am one of the pastors.

I am looking forward to my time on that square that day. Together with four other churches we have been asked to present a 2-hour program. Our heart goes out to those who have not heard, nor felt the Good News. We will try to present the Gospel in a relevant way and invite people for prayer, we will serve them the world famous “FIKA” (coffee with buns) for free and be there for them. Please come along, or pray that people will meet Jesus that day! As long as others philosophize about what to do I will together with thousands of others do my little part in this way, this day, this time…

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Christians – in name only! A call to radical Christ following – death to Christendom!

Christians – in name only! A call to radical Christ following Christendom!

Jeremiah 23: 1-4 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.”

We have heard alarming reports about the continued decline of the numbers of Christians in our churches in Sweden through tidningen Dagen. As I indicated before as passed on the statistics during the Pionjär 2008 conference which we hosted in our church on behalf of a number of different denominations, I am not overcome by these statistics.

I consider this process where (finally) the official figures start to portray a more realistic picture of reality as a blessing! Dead wood is removed from the forest.

I cannot refrain from thinking of the scripture in Jeremiah 23 where the word of the Lord speaks against the shepherds of Israel who have been destroying and scattering the sheep. The shepherds were accused of not caring for the sheep; thus the scattering and alienation of them. It reminds me of our present state of Christianity in Sweden; more and more leaders have opened “their” churches (as if they belonging to them and not Christ!) to anyone. It is important we hear that the church is to be accessible for all those who want to get in. It is important to be seeker-friendly. It is important to be having low thresholds. It is important there is room for everybody! This is like trying to go back to the idea of the “Folkskyrkan” – or Christendom!

Those of you who know me and know of New Life Church in Stockholm where I a one of the pastors can confirm how we from the very start of this church in 1993 have tried to be a low-threshold church. As our short history shows; we have truly become a place of refuge and a haven for many whom in many cases would not put their foot in a church. They feel accepted, they feel they can belong, they can be themselves and time is given for them to grow into a conscious Christian faith.

While having low thresholds for visitors and those curious enough to give us “a chance”, we have maintained a rather high threshold for membership. If our responsibility is to care for the sheep as is mentioned in Jeremiah 23, we need to apply a different kind of leadership and example then mentioned in that chapter. We have to care for the sheep. We have to create a save, secure and yet challenging environment where individuals and the church as a whole can grow into the purposes which God has for His Church, which is to be a light to the world! This implies clarity about what it means to belong to this body of believers which is called “Church”. It must mean that we are clear what people can expect within that Body and what the foundational values are. A friend of mine passed on the following quote which since then I have used many times in regards to the kind of “Body Life” in the local church that we endorse:

Stanley Hauwerwas says: “Christians, to be more specific, do not believe that we have a right to do with our bodies whatever we want. We do not believe that we have a right to our bodies because when we are baptized we become members of one another; then we can tell one another what it is that we should, and should not, do with our bodies.

I had a colleague at the University of Notre Dame. He was Jewish and always said that any religion that does not tell you what to do with your genitals and pots and pans cannot be interesting.

That is exactly true. In the Church we tell you what you can and cannot do with your genitals. They are not your own. They are not private. That means that you cannot commit adultery. If you do, you are no longer a member of”us”. Of course pots and pans are equally important.”

I realize that the kind of Christianity which results from a praxis of the above demands Christ-followership rather than Christendom! Therefore, for now I say death to Christendom, life again to the remnant of the people who have not yet been overcome by the agenda of our world! (Romans 12: 1-3)

That’s the Way I see it!

John