Tag Archives: society

Churches and Christianity bad examples of integration. Is Sunday morning 11.00 am the most segregated hour of the week among Christians?

I could not resist responding to the articles about Gnosjö, the municipality in Sweden which is best at integrating immigrants. See Dagen, Expressen, Svenska Dagbladet and Fokus.

Every fourth citizen in that municipality is of foreign decent and employment rate among them is 62%, to be compared with the 42,7% average in the nation.

As I read the articles of the different papers reporting about this phenomenon I was reminded of the rather scaring reality of lack of integration as is found in the Christian Church in Sweden.

Most probably we find that 11.00 am is the most segregated hour of the week among Christians. With the rapid changes in our society and the influx of immigrants among us, many Christians from a number of African, Eastern Europe, Asian and South American nations have established themselves in our nations and have started many different ethnic churches to worship together and to meet the needs of fellowship they were (are) experiencing. While many of them (like in Gnosjö) are integrated in society, through jobs, schooling, and other social networks we find that, most often, the Swedish churches seemed to be places where time has stood still. The “middle class traditional Svensson church” which is still living in the midst of last century is still the face of Christianity to the outside world while our society has changed drastically!

My inner conviction is that the Church has to reflect the reality of society in which it is established. If there is one place where the walls between peoples and cultures could (should) be eliminated it should be the Church! If there is one place in our nation where bridges could be build between peoples and cultures it should be the Church! Jesus Christ has broken down the walls between us and God and us and each other, yet, so many of us Christians, all in our little groups and too often on the fringes of society seem to huddle together in search for security and cultural oneness instead of exposing ourselves to the tremendous manifold wisdom and diversity of God as expressed to the people whom He created in His image!

A church which does not reflect that reality and diversity is for me not a trustworthy church (unless located in places where there is no cultural diversity, or, when as exception if there is no opportunity to relate in each others language which can be the case with first generation immigrants).

In the Focus article mentioned above, the heading expresses it so well: “All are needed in Gnosjö”! If we in the Christian Church only understood the importance of this and were more inclusive and inviting to brothers and sisters and non-Christian friends from different nations we would not only help to create a home and haven for many people. We would (finally) become that colorful reflection and expression of God’s image and purpose where everyone is needed instead of being a bleak, pale and predictable religious entity un-relevant to the people in Sweden today!

That’s the Way I see it, what do you see?

John

PS The lack of integration goes both ways, but as inviting nation I think we should extend the hand of welcome, expand our hearts to them and open our homes! DS

The Jesusmanifestation which was held last Saturday on May 3 was one way to include them, a good start, but only the small beginning!


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World Values Survey – another way of looking at cultures!

For some years now I have closely observed the developments and studies in the World Values Survey. I find them interesting as I encounter the different values in the multi-cultural setting of New Life Church in Stockholm, Sweden. Let me start off by showing you some characteristics and I will take more time writing about them in my next blogs!

This study from 1981 – 2006 is called “A Human Development View on Value Change” Christian Welzel, Switzerland.

The Vertical graph:

1. The left Traditional/Secular values graph (down left) reflects the contrast between societies in which religion is very important and those in which it is not. Societies near the traditional pole emphasize the importance of

· parent-child ties and respect to authority,

· along with absolute standards and traditional family values,

· reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia, and suicide.

2. Societies with secular-based-on-reason values (the top left) have the opposite position on all of these topics.

The horizontal graph

The second dimension of this graph deals with Survival and Self-expression values. The tremendous wealth that has built up in different societies during the past generation means that an increasing part of the population has grown up taking survival for granted.

1. The left side, survival values; economic and physical security. Trying to make ends meet; focus on making it for another day.

2. The right side; we see that priorities in life have shifted from an emphasis on economic and physical security toward an increasing emphasis on subjective well-being, self-expression and quality of life. Studies show that focuses have shifted from Traditional toward Secular-based on reason values, in almost all industrial societies.

Take a look at Sweden (where I am living at the moment) and most of the Western countries (including Japan)!

· The strong independence and individualism make us focus on our own immediate problems, often cutting us off from our own past as well as the history of our society.

· We do not think about the traditions that have formed us or about the larger problems of our society . . . It is oriented to our immediate wants, desires, and emotions.

Just an observation… I will later write about some of the implications!

See you again soon!

John