The European Baptist Federation has been facilitating indigenous church planting in more than 25 nations of Europe, Middle East and Central Asia. Some of them are above the Polar Circle.
‘Baptists in Norway’, Magnar Maeland, the General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Norway is excited about the mission work of his union. He says that ‘periods of growth of union in the past overlapped with church planting’.The statistics for the last 50 years show the following:
The total number of Baptist Churches in Norway is now 83 and during the last two years the total membership has increased by 700 members. There are also several ongoing church planting projects. Many of the new churches are among immigrants – 17 churches worship in languages other than Norwegian. Church planting above the Polar Circle, Birger has been planting a new Baptist church in Hammerfest, a settlement located above the Polar Circle. Birger moved there in 2004 because he recognized its strategic importance. New people have been moving to Hammerfest as it has become an important centre of industry (earth gas, oil and fishing). Birger is a good evangelist and makes new relationships easily. The Baptist Union of Norway has supported Birger in his church planting work.Here are notes from Birgers' diary:
It has been only 2 years since the foundation of Arctic Church was laid. Then we had no members of our own but teams from the North Cape Baptist Church came to help us. We gathered several people and strengthened our fellowship. We also focused on new Christians, trying to encourage deeper understanding of the word of God. The first Alpha Course drew over 20 people. One person came to faith in God during this course, was baptized and added to the church. In autumn we organized an evening Bible school in order to teach the fundamentals of faith. This was about 70 hours of teaching, 3 sessions every week and also 2 special weekends with 12 sessions. Those who attended increased their knowledge in the word of God.
Besides the Alpha Course we ran the main service on Saturday evening and prayer meetings during the week. Then we had 35 baptized members and several children.
This winter new people were added to the church. We continued with Saturday evening services, prayer meetings on Mondays and the cell groups during the weekdays. 6 new people were added to church and three were baptized. We organized special weekends that focused on fellowship and building relationships with each other. We met on Friday evening, had a meal and enjoyed being together for a couple of hours. Then we had time for worship and prayer before going home. On Saturday evening there was a gospel service with preaching, testimonies and worship. On Sunday morning we had family meetings focusing on the children.
This autumn we focused on the cell groups and on prayer. We had three home groups: one for girls, one for ladies and one group for men. Once a month we also tried a family service on Sunday morning with special attention to the children. We enjoyed singing and teaching the word of God. And of course we all had a lot of fun.
On the 17 of May we celebrated the Norwegian national day. For the first time we prepared a special service in the evening. We started with food and fellowship, and then continued with worship and preaching the word. An 18 year old girl came and became a believer during that service.
One week in May we organized outreach services with a guest evangelist. During these meetings 4 people gave their lives to the Lord. One member of our team, Lasse brought his mum and dad and his brother. All of them became believers on Friday night. Julia, a member of the church since the beginning, brought her husband, and he also gave his life to the Lord on Sunday morning. We trained new leaders because it is very important to follow up new converts. We used ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren in our home groups. The cell groups played a very important role in following up these new Christians. They could find new friends in church and were able to talk about their questions and problems.
New people came regularly to our Saturday evening services including Pål, Trond and Bjørg. They professed faith, got baptized and were added to our church this autumn. We also continued the family service every second Sunday. After the service we had a meal and fellowship.
This spring we saw new people come to Christ in the Arctic Church. Normally we are about 25-35 people on a Saturday evening, but several times the group grew to 40 - 70 over the winter and spring months.
For the first time during spring we went on a mission trip. 15 men travelled to Finland. The purpose of going there was to spend more time together and get to know each other in a more personal way. Christians had a chance to share what they had received. So in every meeting they gave testimonies, and shared short texts from the Bible that were special to them. We also prayed for people with different needs. We came back very thankful that the Lord used us in a mighty way.
The webpage may be in English by the time you look: www.arctickirken.no