Just anger



Do you know situations when you have become really angry? Of course you do. When people hurt you in their self - centeredness, do not treat you right, or wipe you out. When gossipmongers or power-seeking persons pervert the truth about you or spread direct lies then you become angry. You can feel anger building up inside you, so that you almost have an out- of - body experience of the violation. A lot of Christians think that they must not get angry. But it is all right to be angry when good and good things are trampled under foot.  In the temple Jesus gets so angry that the turns over the tables and upsets the benches of those selling doves: ”My temple will be called a house of prayer. But you are changing it into a hideout for robbers”.(Matthew 21:13)

In Ephesians 4 it says: When you are angry, do not sin. It is how you live out your anger that counts. Do not become revengeful, do not use the shady methods of the ones who offended you, for if you do you will enter a spiral of fury that may end up as a life form for you. That is sin. After anger you may feel remorse. But if you used your anger serving a good purpose, serving good as such, and drawing a line to affronts then you need not repent. As Jesus showed us, certain situations call for justified anger. The right anger does not give place to the devil.

“Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”(Ephesians 4:26-27)

To Him Be the Glory

April 29th,2015


How Wide and Long and High and Deep

While the apostle Paul is in prison he writes a letter to the Ephesians. Ephesos is situated in Turkey, and there are still ruins to be seen from Roman time. In this letter written in the middle of the first century Paul tries to explain the width, length, height and depth of God´s love, as is has been revealed to us through Jesus Christ. That is not an easy task. You may try yourself to explain to someone what “spirit” is, what “faith” is, or try to explain hope or love. We may well describe these, but we do not get to the very essence of them. Someone has said, you may catch the bird, but not its flight, or as they sing in the Sound of Music “how do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?”. This is how it is with the greatest aspects of life, we cannot catch them and hold them in our hands. We cannot get to the bottom of them. And we cannot  rule them. They are there, and they are always greater than us. We may talk to somebody about faith for days, weeks, years, but faith itself comes as a gift, we cannot take it ourselves. And when it comes to us, explanations are unnecessary. We are touched deep down. And as for love, we may talk about it, but we cannot not explain or force it. It comes to us as a gift, and when it comes, we need no explanations. We are touched deep down. And the light lit in our hearts through faith and love shines through our eyes to be spread to other people. From God to us, from me to you.

St Paul writes: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:16-21)


Easter 2015


                                                                                                                    March 23rd


The Gate to Life!

The end of Lent is nearing and we are soon entering the Holy week, leading up to Easter Sunday. Palm sunday is a day of joy, Jesus Rides into Jerusalem, and then follow days of desertion, denial, betrayal, fear, torture and death.

The first days have Bethany in common. Lazarus is from Bethany, and in Bethany Jesus is eating in Simon’s house, when a woman suddenly bursts in and anoints Jesus’  feet. Bethany means “the house of obedience”.

At the end of Advent we hear about John, who is the one to make the road straight for Jesus. And here at the end of Lent we hear about Lazarus as the one pointing towards the resurrection.

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and so anticipates the mystery of resurrection itself. The act points to Jesus’ own resurrection and the resurrection of the dead as such, which we confess to believing every Sunday. So Lazarus is the first sign that with Christ the dead will rise. Strong emotion is expressed here. Grief. Jesus weeps when he learns that “the one he loves” is dead. (John 11:4 and 36). So very human. But he cannot leave the one he loves to death and Jesus therefore uses all his divine power and shouts: Lazarus come out! And so it happens, love conquers all, even death.

In this way Jesus calls each one of us from darkness to light, from death to life. And he does so doubly. He calls us now to live a life of love, to love those that we are given to love.

And then one day he calls us one last time, calls us out of the dark of death to eternal life with him, who is the Light of the world. This will happen, for love conquers all.

Jesus said: I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will have life even if they die.(John 11:25)

Do you believe?

Created to Create


You are now going to Paradise. Let these words sink into your heart, deep inside you. Rest in the presence of God. Feel the words when God says “I have created you. You are created in my image”. Imagine how God takes a lump of clay and starts shaping it. See how it looks like you more and more. Still just a statue of clay; but God saw that it was good. God bends over you and breathes life into you. God´s Holy spirit fills you. Breathe deeply. Feel the life inside you. The Spirit. For God saw that it was good. See it with your inner eye, see with your heart.

Look towards God. See Him who is all good. Imagine  God´s eyes smiling. See his joy. See his love. For God saw how good it was that he created you in his image. Let the knowledge of this sink into your heart. Paradise. God saw how good it was to have created you in his image. God sees you as you are. God sees how good it is. You are created to create. Created to help God build a good world. A world in peace. Be open to all inspiration God sends you. God´s spirit is your life. Breathe and be.

Be Strong and Courageous

14th of december 2014

What did you think when you jumped – or slowly crawled – out of bed this morning? Did you think “A wonderful new day is waiting”? Or did you think: “A new day threatens”? What is your starting point, what sign do you put in front, plus or minus? The day will take shape accordingly. What you hold inside will influence your surroundings. You can be a victim, pitiful, or you can be a person, powerful, but you cannot be both. You must choose. Maybe you think that all your strength and power will have to come from your inner self; that your life stands or falls with you alone? It does not. God, who created you, knows whom he created. And he says: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

The day may bring adversities, the people you meet may be unfriendly or implacable, but God has commanded you to be strong and courageous. With God, who is under you, above you, beside you, behind you and in front of you, you can jump out of bed and into the day, and not be afraid. The sign of plus and a cross are very similar.

So start your day well, spread kind words, let your strength and joy be contagious.


30th of November 14


A new beginning

First Sunday in Advent, a new church year begins today. New Year! Makes us think about new year resolutions. Most of these have  to do with our body: stop smoking, diet, jog. Also stress less.. And all this is okay… But we are spirit too. Body and spirit. Perhaps spiritual new year resolutions could accompany our bodily ones?

One of my own resolutions will – again - be humility. I decided the same thing last year, but I can better myself, I can certainly improve! Practice makes perfect, it is said. In my case life long practice.

Humility is being satisfied with what I have. And I am. And if my neighbour´s grass is greener, it still has to be cut.

The world needs for us to be modest and humble. The opposite of being humble is being greedy. Greed is one of the deadly sins. Greed sponges on good. Every time a person is greedy, someone has to make do with less than his share, or simply without. And think on: What size of house do I need? How many clothes do I need to have in my closet, how many pairs of shoes? Do I have to always travel to the other end of the world, or could I sometimes explore my own country.

And further: do not be jealous of your neighbour´s job. Improve your own talents instead. And do it with humility and gratitude.

Being humble is practising how to live in the light of God´s mercy. So let God´s mercy be enough for you, be grateful for what you have, be grateful for those people God has given you to love and for their love in return.  Practice humility and soon you will feel ‘new year’ in your heart. A new beginning.

Walk and wonder

18.september 2014

Walking and wondering

I´ve done it! I´ve walked the West Highland Way. 160 km from Milngavie to Fort William. Walked through the most beautiful scenery, up and down hills, in and out forest, along lochs...

Walking long distances in landscape like this changes you. There is the physical challenge, but there is much more to it. You become focused, reaching today´s target yes, but again more than that. Focused on life itself,  and you begin wondering. What is my life like. What am I doing, should I be doing what I do...? Have I got the courage to change the course , move... . If not what holds me back? What are my values in life.

I walked with 13 others. Some were already friends other became so. Walking together made us a close unit. We started off every day with a short morning service, and this combination of the spiritual and physical  proved a very strong experience.

The first Christians did not call themselves Christians, they called what they believed in : The Way.  Following Jesus meant to walk his way. Follow in his footsteps.Do his work.

I have been a priest for 31 years , and it has never been clearer to me, than during this walk what it means to serve God.

We need breaks in our daily lives to realise, to think, to change and to grow.

Walking is a very good way of achieving this. A good long slow walk transforms. And then wondering may turn to knowing, to wisdom!




Did you ever break a promise?

A promise you had made before God?

Do you feel unworthy?


He went outside and wept bitterly.

He is Peter. Peter weeps because he has failed. He weeps for himself. he had made a promise, a promise he could not keep. And here he is, faced with the truth about himself. I let down the Lord and I let down myself. How can I go on?

How can I be trusted again?

He was. After the resurrection Jesus reinstated Peter, asking him: do you love me, do you truly love me,and a third time: do you love me.Peter declares that he does and Jesus says:take care of my sheep, follow me.

Peter is given a new beginning, he is much wiser than before, now he has no illusions about himself and therefore he will be a truer follower and a better leader.

God knows that man is not perfect, not always able to keep his promises, and for that very reason he sent us his Son Jesus. To tell us that we are loved in spite of our failings, to make us see that we are forgiven when we repent,  that we are given a fresh start.

Had we been able to always act as we should, we would not have needed Jesus. he came to show us the love of God, how extensive it is, and how complete his forgiveness is.

Peter did follow Jesus and became  a great leader and servant of Christ, but only because he knew the truth about himself.  for it is  when we give up trying to be perfect, that we love other people more and know the full meaning of the forgiveness of sins.

The Lord said to Peter (after Peter had said You are the Christ):

you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.

On imperfect, failing, blundering people, men and women, the Lord builds his church.

Follow me, he said, love each other, and I am with you always , to the very end of the age.




             To boldly go.....

All have different paths  to tread

each a unique combination of God and ourselves

sent   in different ways and directions

Rocked by , Rooted in

Walking with , Working for

Jesus Christ

United in faith,

Boldly going out there .....


Winter moods

January 2014

January is usually a dreary month. Christmas is over, work starts at full speed. Weather is terrible. It takes a lot of courage to get through January and February. If we just had some snow...to cover up the comfortless landscape...if the rain would stop...

Why is it that we repair to sadness so soon after Christmas? The feast of great joy? Perhaps because it was an outward thing for us. The light from the star did not really enter our hearts...or.. we failed to grasp it...

Just as people in old times had to gather harvest enough for bad times we have to store up.Store up so much joy that we can ignore the ice cold rain, ignore the sour remarks from people around us on the bus, the short temper of our colleagues, and not least our own low spirit. Keep it filled up! You were just given the greatest gift of all: A saviour.  He is enough to last you all the year round, so lift your head. Let January be the first step to new ways of thinking and behaving. You are alive, so live!

Crying angel, crying, grave, tears, necropolis

14th October 2013

Crying Angel?



This photograph was taken in the Necropolis in Gasgow, a large cemetary placed on a hill in the middle of the city. I have walked there many times and seen this memorial. I always thought of it as an angel crying, crying because perhaps death took away a person too young, or too good for this world... but when I  looked at it again, I saw that it is perhaps not an angel but a woman, a mourning  woman who lost her child or her husband? The woman is in tears. And she will be in tears for as long as the stone will last that she is carved from.

Tears carved in stone, eternal tears. But tears are not eternal, sorrow is not forever. Grass and flowers grow around the memorials, showing and reminding us of new life, and God wipes our tears away, here and in heaven. No one is too good for this world nor too bad for this world, we are given life to use it , to rejoice, to work, to weep, to live in full. God is always beside us, sometimes in the shape of human angels, to comfort us and keep up hope and spirit.

Eternal peace and joy await us. Jesus told us so. His words and his promise is carved not in stone but  in our hearts forever.

God loves you!

October 15th , 2013

Today a man cried violently because during prayer I said, "God loves you". It may not be so in English speaking contexts but in Denmark it is almost unheard of to say it so plainly. God loves you. We may describe God and love in many different ways, but never say straight out: God loves you! Emphasis on all three words alternately. This is not the State Church of Denmark way. We moderate our language when it comes to declarations of faith...

I was very moved by the man´s reaction and nearly cried myself as I gave him the blessing.

And it made me think, why is it that we do not speak plainly when the situation requires it? Why are we afraid of straightforward language? What is the risk? How does it reflect on us?

I humbly thank God for being his instrument today. God loves you.





Walking with

Jesus Christ


To boldly go. This  means moving,  moving your feet, hands, body and soul.

Rocked and rooted to face the world and its people. when you start walking with Jesus you will be different from other people.

We are all different from each other, but in the walking it will becomes obvious. You will be different, nor because you are better people in a moral sense, or any sense, but because you are from now on  resident aliens in the world. You are becoming fishers of men. Like Levi and Peter and Paul and thousands before you.

The walk starts when you fully realise what happened when Jesus washed his disciples´ feet and said: If I, your lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash each other´s feet”.I did this as an example so that you should do as I have done for you.

Walking with Jesus Christ starts here,

you have to go down on your knees when you wash other people´s feet. You are literally in a position below them. When on your knees you can see what is required from a resident alien and fisher of men sent out to do God´s mission.

Let me explain “resident alien” starting with the words of St. Paul from 1. Corinthians (ch.4) People should think of us as servants of Christ. The ones God has trusted with his secrets.

As bearers of God´s secrets we know that we belong to the kingdom of God. This is our home. And God´s kingdom is both present and future.

The world then is not our first home, but we reside here, a kind of aliens, because we know that there is so much more at stake in life than meets the eye.

I think you have all been met with wonder and sometimes strong suspicion when people have known you to be church goers and Christians. There is this “apart” feeling.

And so it must be. The walking is that of the mission that has a church.

The walking can be a lonely one , Those  close to you may not understand, the other people from your church or organisation  may disagree completely as to what is important  about being church. Being servants is not the priority of the established church, where rules tradition and old in-grown habits seem to weigh more than the gospel. Where you might expect encouragement and approval you will be met with silence and distrust.

Therefore it is basically a lonely walk  where you can suddenly meet others who feel and do the same.

The very first Christians had to hide their faith. Or they lost their lives.So they invented a sign to recognise each other.

With his foot in the sand one would draw a curved line, and if the other person knew the sign he would do the same. Together the two curved lines formed a fish. and as you may well know the greek word for fish was ichtys, and the letters taken separately meant: Jesus Christ, son of God, saviour.

Simon Peter was a fisherman when Jesus called him and said to him: Come follow me, and I will make you fish for people.

Fishing for people is what mission is about. And perhaps we should take in the words of St. Francis of Assisi here: Preach the gospel, if necessary use words.

We are sent as servants to fish for people. Not to convince or preach or threaten, but to be good examples .

In all the years the Cathedral of Silence has been present the big Roskilde Rock music festival, and young volunteers have washed thousands of pairs of feet , the words and reactions have been: But You are what you say. You actually do what you believe in.

Big words, but the world is surprised when the church not just talk about love and charity, but when it actually does what it preaches. When Christians and churchgoers are themselves role models and examples of love and charity. Mistrust may follow, but as Jesus says in the parable about the workers: Are you jealous because I am good ?

Yes, the world will be jealous of living examples of Christian goodness.but some people  will also be healed and given hope.

The servants and fishers of people will be called all sorts of things. As Jesus himself experienced it when his healing was called the work of the devil.

Nevertheless this is the walking the world needs.

Because people need to learn about Jesus. and we must show them what it means to us. Use our feet to go out and meet others, on bended knees if that is required. Servants

And when walking, we are walking with Christ .He is there beside us.





Reflect on walking with Jesus. And when you are ready get up and take a turn around the room. And walk on as long or short as you feel like.

Passing others you may or may not say to them

I am walking with Jesus.

Or you may in silence  draw a curved line on the floor with your foot.




With open hearts

 in silent prayer

we hear your calling.

You send us out

to boldly go,

your followers in love and peace.








My thesis completed in  april 2007 :

Being Church after Christendom




This paper explores its title, dividing the discussion into segments of theory and examples of practice. It will start backwards, describing what is meant by “after Christendom”, followed by a description of a current project in the Church of Scotland: “A Church without Walls”.

Then a look at differences between the established churches in Scotland and Denmark - and finally a discussion of what “being church” includes.

My sources concerning church in general and Church of Scotland (CofS) are the chosen literature and interviews, combined with experience from regular visits over a period of 30 years, 6 of which I actually lived in Edinburgh. My Danish references are based on experience from 24 years of employment in Den Danske Folkekirke(DDFK), 2 years’ employment in Samvirkende Menighedsplejer(United Parish Aid) and a further 6 years there as a volunteer. 

I have chosen an essayistic form of writing which, I believe, fits the mixing of theory and examples from everyday church.


1. After Christendom


1. a. Contextual change.


Post-modernity presents a definite change of context  for the Christian church; secularisation has been going on for a long time, but perhaps the main challenge to Christianity is not so much secularism itself but modern religiosity. If so the chief task would be to theologically identify the Christian God in a world of competing religious systems, including unbelief.

Western countries have hitherto viewed society with basically Christian eyes, seen the surrounding world from within a Christian tradition, but this is no longer entirely possible. Christianity is presently reduced to being one choice among many. This gives a different starting point, and requires another course of action for traditional church and for church life. We live in post-Christendom.


Christendom is here not the same as Christianity. Christianity  is belief in Jesus Christ, Christendom started in Rome approx. 300 and refers to the era of established, institutionalised church representing moral and to some extent political power in union with and possibly supported by the national state.

It is Christendom that is ailing, not Christianity as such.

Stuart Murray in his book “Church after Christendom“(CAC) calls the situation a paradigm shift. Not a secular, post-modern, confused state of affairs, but a total shift. A shift away from being in the centre of things, away from power and influence. In post-Christendom the church will hardly have any role in government and will be increasingly distant from any centre of power. On its way to no influence at all.

A church may be without power, but it should not lose influence in society, because the calling to be church includes a fight for Christian values.


It is significant to note that at the same time as the Western world is gliding into post-Christendom the Christian faith is spreading rapidly in other parts of the world, not least in Asia. This indicates that Christianity will outlive Christendom and thrive in new forms.[1]


1. b. Characteristics of Post- modern and Post-Christendom Society


It is not the task here to give an extended description of modern and post-modern society, but there are distinct factors which influence church life to the extent that they cannot be ignored. I have chosen 4 headlines, which do not cover the issue, but are relevant for a later description of traditional church.

The first characteristic of post-Christendom society is instant gratification.


The philosopher Seneca a long time ago described the people that seek instant gratification as:  the kind of people who forgot the past, did not care about the present, and were afraid of the future.[2]


But what was for Seneca a deviation from the right path and for the few, could be a fitting description of modern life. Instant gratification is not just the choice of a few but the fate of many, living by the notion: Whatever life may offer, let it offer it here and now. For who knows what tomorrow will bring. Long lasting values are ignored because the very idea of duration and immortality is in crisis.


Once the family was one of the links to immortality, but families are broken and no longer reliable bridges to understanding. They can no longer tell coherent stories of old, or give meaning to the present and hope for the future.

In past times people had photo albums with yellowed pictures of their ancestors, these have now been replaced by rarely shown video clips and digital photographs which exist mostly as a possibility on a CD.

The linking chain of family history and events is becoming invisible.

Instead lives are centred round instant versions of mortality, sports events are an example, and commentators often claim that “history is being made” in front of our eyes. But one might ask: history for whom?

Naturally such a stray view of life clashes with a church talking of providence, of a divine chain of being, and of everlasting life.


The second characteristic, connected with the first, is insecurity.

Insecurity is predominant in a society of constant change where styles of life which are “in” today will be not only “out” tomorrow, but could even become targets of ridicule.

There are therefore no incentives to develop habits or attachments or lasting commitments. The words “till death do us part” are substituted by until satisfaction lasts. This tendency enters every sphere of life so that no one can feel truly irreplaceable – and if human beings no longer count, nor do the days of their life. Insecurity fortifies the need for instant gratification; and insecurity leads to mistrust; mistrust in others, in society, organisations, and in church.


The third characteristic is independence rather than interdependence: If the place, group or situation does not fit me exactly, I will move on. In a modern Western society every man is his own god, and he alone chooses where and what he wants to be. He creates his own life, and changes it whenever it suits him. And since society as such is approaching a state of being basically “value free” – justified by the claim of being multi-cultural and multi-religious - every man can only be guided by himself, and his own creation of values. He is then no longer a citizen, but an individual claimant.


The fourth and final characteristic to be mentioned here is the 24-hour-society.

The old rhythm of life with a time for work and a time for rest, no longer exists.

Modern life provides no real time for rest. No time for reflection. Shopping is possible at any time, and since there is no common rhythm of life, there are no common values to respect and promote, and no “holy” hours. This leaves people more exposed to physical and mental ill health than ever before.


Before I go into describing how church may oppose the characteristics of modern society and be a remedy, it is necessary to take a look also at certain aspects of traditional church. For it is not only modern people that are ignoring the church, the church has long been separating itself from people’s lives.



1. c. Some Characteristics of Present Day Traditional Church


As I shall be going into more detail about being church in chapter 4, I will only mention some distinctive marks of present day church here.


The first one is the tendency to believe that one size fits all.   The church offers one type of service to one type of people and often no more.

This may have been adequate in a past and more equal society, but in a “it must fit me” world it is not enough. It does not take into account that there are always many kinds and groups of people in play.


The second mark is social churchgoing.  The fact that church people see church as something they go to, rather than something that they are. They are doing church rather than being church. This often leads to emphasis on buildings and organisation, it tends to maintain hierarchy, rigid structure, firm tradition and clerical control. None of these appeal to ordinary people of the post-modern age.


Thirdly traditional church suffers severely from intergenerational stoppage.

It is an old people’s church and does very little to overcome generation gaps; be it from a lack of commitment or ability to invest in coming generations and developing models of church suited to the future.


The fact that so little real energy and time is invested in handing over the gospel to future generations is perhaps the greatest problem for modern church, and presents a heavier threat of failure and extinction than any challenge coming from a multi-cultural and multi-religious post-Christendom society.


2.  A Church without Walls


This chapter begins with a short description of Scottish Society and the Church of Scotland. My reason for choosing Scotland, apart from knowing it well, is that Scotland calls itself a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, and the Church of Scotland has formally and practically begun to act on the challenge of present time, especially the challenge of handing over church to the young generation.

I deem it likely that in a not too distant future Danish society and church will be in the same position, needing to respond much more consciously and effectively to life-style changes and to the present lack of contact with young people.


2. a. Multi-cultural and Multi-religious


In the city of Glasgow, close to the old Cathedral, is a museum: St. Mungo´s Museum of Religious Art. On a wall there it says: Scotland is now fully a multi-cultural and multi-religious society.


All religions and faiths are depicted in the museum, side by side; Jesus close to Buddha and Shiva. It is all very interesting and simultaneously provokes an odd feeling. But it is true: from my long knowledge of Scottish people Christianity and church is now just one among many choices, and - contrary to Denmark- there are many derelict church buildings left standing to decay. Others are used as flea markets or bingo halls, few as theatres.


There are more reasons for this than post–Christendom, but these broken down churches fortify the feeling of traditional church belonging to a dead and gone era.


The sociologist David McCrone[3] calls Scotland:

The first truly post-modern nation - not based on a narrow ethnic identity, but on a democratic identity of autonomy within the wider frameworks of the UK and European Union. (COTM, p.31)


And the core values of the Scottish Parliament are best described as access, fairness and power-sharing. [4]


These values represent what a modern Scot may look for and expect in any institution, including the church. In traditional church, however, they may not so easily be found. Access means that there are no hindering walls, no barriers; and in established church there are barriers, not least the barriers of rigid structure, tradition and leadership.

The issues of access, fairness and power-sharing in connection with being church will be developed later.


2. b. Church of Scotland


Scotland has a population of 5 million. Membership of the Church of Scotland (CofS)

has fallen steadily for the past 20 years to 12 % (just below 600.000 people).42 % count themselves as belonging.  (For general information about CofS see app. 1.)


Peter Neilson writes:


In many places old ways are just not working. People are being bored out of our churches. Congregations have become obsessed with survival and die from lack of honesty and imagination. Ministers are being destroyed by false expectations of congregations. Others destroy their congregations by their inappropriate expectations and inept handling of people. Basic courtesies and communications are often lacking. The passion for mission and evangelism is massively absent. (COTM p.23)


Peter Neilson’s words are a suitable comment on the state of affairs which resulted in the Church of Scotland project “A Church without Walls”. The key question for Peter Neilson was: “What kind of church will offer the next generation access to the Gospel?”


In 1999 the General assembly of the Church of Scotland appointed a special commission to

re-examine in depth the primary purposes of the church and the shape of the Church of Scotland as we enter into the next millennium; to formulate proposals for a process of continuing reform; to consult on such matters with other Scottish churches; and to report to the General Assembly of 2001. (CWW report p. 8)


Rev. Peter Neilson was the Convener for this special commission, the report of which has since 2001 been the formal acceptance and basis for new ways of being church in the Church of Scotland. The report suggested also the creation of a Community and Parish Development fund, in order to give financial backing to new and imaginative forms of ministry and mission. The fund has come into existence, and the General assembly allotted the sum of £ 3 million to the fund for five years from 2003 to 2007.


The CWW report falls in three sections: Section 1, which discusses ‘the primary purposes of the church’ , section 2  which is about ‘the shape of the church’ and finally section 3  has ‘proposals for continuing reform’.


Speaking to various people from the Scottish church there are differing opinions as to the impact of the CWW project and report.  Some say: just more words; others think the project and report a very necessary step in the right direction. The overall agreement is that it does give local churches a real chance to experiment and change. The pioneer spirits of the parish are now backed by their General Assembly if they try out new forms of being church. And the report itself forms the theological basis and encouragement to be church in more than one (traditional) way.

Some walls have fallen, but the journey has only begun.


3. Access, Fairness and Power-sharing


Using the words from the Scottish Parliament[5] I will now look deeper into church, starting with access. I shall limit the discussion to talk of only 3 perspectives of access. 1) the intergenerational issue 2) DDFK structure

3) The Parish


3.a. Access.


1. Intergenerational relationship


As pointed out earlier the church is suffering from intergenerational stoppage.

There is no proper access for younger generations. A family, however, consists of members of all ages, who live together in various degrees of harmony. They may not agree on every issue, but they belong together, they are part of a whole. And a family is exactly what the church should be, in every sense: of the same blood (that of Christ), united in relationship, respecting the individual members but acting together for the good of the family, knowing the past, living the present and hoping for the future.


The relations between generations play an important part throughout the bible; in the Old Testament they are mostly concerned with family bloodline, and in the New Testament can be seen a shift of emphasis away from genealogy towards other criteria. These criteria for “family membership” are for instance “attitude” and “behaviour”. Jesus asks: Who are my mother and my brothers?  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.(Mark 3:33-35)

The apostle Paul writes of “a family of believers.” (Gal.6:10) In his letters he writes to different social classes and subcultures and different age groups, but he consistently underlines that Christ unites believers in a single family.

The parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-31)can be viewed as a description of family trouble, but an important fact to note is that the family contains more age groups than one, and though they may differ and quarrel they are brought together and united in the love of the father.


If we look at traditional church as seen in DDFK we discover a clear absence of younger generations. It is decidedly not a family, but a society of elderly people. And old people of a very similar type of background.


This does not imply that there is no children’s work or youth work going on,

but the general impression is that such work is a task for some energetic few, whose work will be supported with only a small amount of money. The parish councils and others in charge do not seem to consider youth and children’s ministry an absolutely vital obligation; they do not appear to see it as their responsibility to secure the future of the family.


If a parish church has got children’s and youth work, examples show that it is generally more a temporary activity, than a seriously considered preparation for the future. Therefore the work itself often takes the shape of “edutainment” rather than creating church family. No bridge is being built between the old and the young. The older members of church cannot serve as role models and “family” because children’s and youth work is only occasional and considered secondary. But it looks good in the Church magazine: “look at us, we have children’s work”.[6] How this work is done, the intended goal or the quality of this work is rarely discussed.


A good example of this situation is “mini-confirmation classes.” (DK: Mini-konfirmandforberedelse, abbrev. MC)

This work intends to teach 10 year-olds about Jesus and the church, as a follow up on their baptism. (Since their parents are not equipped or prepared to do this). I have 15 years’ experience in this work, and my conclusion is that though the quality of the work in Denmark is varied, it is generally a success; but in nearly all cases MC is seen as an activity rather than an entrance into church life. There is often no further connection or opportunity to belong, and once MC has been established in the parish and lost its “news” value, it soon becomes the lone task of a few. I have experienced more than once how the MC church service at the end is neglected: Do you really need organist and singer to be present?

MC and other children’s work is seldom considered valid and necessary church life.


It is never easy to have two or three generations under the same roof, but it is absolutely necessary for the family called church. Also “generation” is not only a question of age but of values, attitude and behaviour.


The generations that constitute church now and in future are “Boomers” born between 1946 and -63, “Xers” born from 1964 – 81 and “Millennials” born 1982.

A brief outline of these generation types: (from G&G)


Whereas Boomers retain a touching faith that science and technology will solve social problems, Xers know they never will and could even make problems worse (p.137)

Moreover, whereas the Boomer mentality encourages people to be pushy, driven and go-getting, Xers are more likely to shrug their shoulders and ask “what’s the point”.


-For Xers institutions are suspect, not least the institution of state and church

-For Xers individualism and self sufficiency are prized highly, friendship matters more than social status or function, work is done to live rather than vice versa.


-Globalisation is viewed as an opportunity to break down traditional cultural barriers, rather than a threat to racial, national or ethnic distinctiveness (p.137)


Xers are people in the west growing up in a secular, affectless society yearning to feel rapture, and looking for love in the ruins of faith (p.138)


Millennials –a generation more apolitical, self sufficient, materialistic and hedonistic in their attitudes than any generation observed before (p.144)


- while it is true that singleness is on the increase among Millennials as it is among boomers and Xers, Millennials do at least still aspire  in significant numbers to some form of family life (p.145)


And finally:

if the church is to have any chance of bucking the decline (of traditional church) it will need to handle intergenerational relationships with great care and efficiency. Indeed, unless it can improve its own handling of the succession process from one generation to another its future will look decidedly bleak (G&G p.148)


Facing the difficulties of intergenerational relationships the church must still be a family. Not in the normal Western two-generation nuclear family way of parents and children, which has come under strain, but family in a biblical way:A basic unit of creation increasing through families rather than consisting of isolated individuals.

In the gospels the family is often described as a household (oikos), a social caring structure in which resources are shared. The main concern in family relationships is support and sustenance. And the clear expectation in NT is that whole households, including individuals from all generations, will embrace the Christian faith.


Viewing local parish churches as such households of faith what must be demanded and expected is that they are indeed intergenerational, and that the church becomes a supportive family.

Society as well as the church needs people who are willing to be “fathers” and “mothers” in the sense of being responsible, capable, caring, spiritually authoritative adults, who can function as mentors and role models for others. The church family must be shown as an easily accessible “home” for all - even the lost sons and daughters. A place with tradition, rules and boundaries, but not a ‘one kind only’ function, nor “only one way to do it”. It must be seen as a living family with members differing in age and thought, but always united in faith and in following Christ.


In the CofS youth has been formally included in the official church structure in the shape of a National Youth Assembly. Just as there is an Annual General Assembly of the CofS there is also a youth gathering with delegates from the local churches.

Steve Mallon from CofS Head Office and in charge of organising the National Youth Assembly writes:


Young people in the Church of Scotland


Fourteen years ago the Church of Scotland had no sense of what it was doing with young people as a denomination.  Local churches were reporting that young people were leaving in their droves.  There was a sense of panic and people were using phrases like, ‘terminal decline’.  The Church was losing confidence in its ability to engage with young people and to share the faith with them.  In that time para-church agencies stepped in to the breech in many ways, which served only to further paralyse the local church and its ability to work with young people.


Sometimes we have to make decisions that make no sense on the day that we make them!  The first such decision was to establish an annual National Youth Assembly for young adults aged between 16 and 25 years.  This age grouping represents the smallest section of our community so this was a huge risk to take.  Ten years after the Assembly was established, no-one can imagine not having it!  It has become an established part of how we do business as a church.  It is the place we have created with young people where they and the Church of Scotland, in its national and denominational role, can sit together and discuss the issues that are important to us and with each other.


The second decision was to allow young people to take part in our General Assemblies each year, since 1998.  At first this seemed like a shocking idea but now it is one of the most vibrant parts of the Assembly, our highest decision making body.  The young people who are involved bring a fresh perspective to the proceedings which the Assembly increasingly appreciates.


The most recent decision we have taken is to establish a Strategy for Young People.  For the first time in our recent history we are saying very clearly what it is we want for young people, what it is we want to do with them and how we will do it.  This strategy offers local churches a framework in which they can do things their way.  It is not a straight-jacket, forcing everyone into the same shape.


The last decade has seen a transformation in the discussions we have about young people in the Church of Scotland.  The challenges are still huge but our confidence is growing.  The reason we do youth work is not just to assure our own survival but because we want to share the story of Jesus with the young people of Scotland.  (Steve Mallon, February 15th 2007)[7]


A description of the National Youth Assembly has also found its way into the Wikipedia site.[8] There is says:


As in most Western denominations, the membership of the Church of Scotland is also aging, and it has struggled to maintain its relevance to the younger generations. The church has made attempts to address their problems, at both congregational and national level. The annual National Youth Assembly and the presence of youth delegates at the General Assembly have served as a visible reminder of the Church’s commitment. The Church’s National Youth Assembly has grown in prominence and attendance in recent years.


A commentary from a young delegate at the 2006 National Youth Assembly can be seen as app. 2.


The CofS’s Mission and Discipleship Council now has a developed programme called COSY (Church of Scotland Youth) which has a “strategy for young people” because “every young person in Scotland matters”. On a small plastic card - credit card size, to keep in your wallet- it says:


We want to introduce young people to Jesus Christ. We want to give young people a good experience in the Church. We will treat young people with respect. We will listen to young people and give them a voice in the church and community. We will give young people opportunities to be fully involved in the ministry of the local church. (See also supplementary material)



2. DDFK Structure


This chapter has its difficulties, because it is based on experience and facts not ordinarily described in academic work. It stems mainly from my own observations and experience at “ground” level, as there are few, if any, recorded surveys of daily life in DDFK. 

There is a conflict between the frame for church life provided by the State Church DDFK and church in the sense of being household and family. The first tends to prevent rather than promote living faith. It seems that employees and regular routines are generally more important than church people and –goers. People who try to be actual church are often mere guests, visitors even, in the well kept frames ruled by a number of sometimes self important employees.[9]


In many places- especially in rural areas- the members of the parish council appear to be frightened of the employees. Not only of the minister, who is not an employee in the normal sense, but also of some of the other categories. On some occasions the council members do things themselves rather than ask their employee, because they do not know what is to be classified as duty work and what is not. Or it occurs that a good idea cannot be put into practice because it might inconvenience the staff.

I have also observed the tendency that, apart from Sunday, the church is open only from Tuesday to Thursday, Monday is a day off, Friday is almost a day off, Saturday is mostly a day off, so staff are annoyed when they actually have to work on a Saturday.

How church life works locally thus depends a great deal on the attitude and behaviour of the staff: towards each other, towards employers, and towards people coming to church.

Not all parishes have a council able and strong enough to set up a purpose for church life and to remind their employees that they are more than employees in the normal sense: They are also the face of the church and representatives of the local “family “.


Surely the parish councils in DDFK do not generally employ the wrong people, rather trouble arises from the fact that local church life has no written down purpose or clearly defined set of values from which to start the work- or the journey- and so the church frequently employs unsuited or uncommitted persons, and then suffers them for years instead of replacing them. There is a definite problem of leadership.[10] I will return to this in the discussion of power-sharing.


Volunteers in church are not highly rated. Some are definitely seen as clients, and are treated as such - that is: tolerated- but in many places it is very difficult for capable well-educated volunteers to gain access to the local church; they are often met with a strange, almost mafia-like, attitude of “you must not be cleverer than us” and “this is not how we usually do”.


In CofS churches there are only few employees, mostly only the minister and perhaps an organist and a social worker. All is done by volunteers, which creates a deeper feeling of belonging. There one is not a visitor to church but a member of a community, who all have different responsibilities. This does not make things easier, but it forces people to work together for a common purpose.


In a Scottish church you cannot enter or leave without someone welcoming you, and taking an interest; in most Danish churches you can enter and leave unseen and unwelcomed. Nobody has been given the responsibility of welcoming, and strangers are often looked at with a tint of suspicion.


I will not dwell longer on the controversy between frame church and church life, hopefully the above serves to illustrate my observations.


3. The Parish


To gain access one has to cross or go through something: a bridge, a door, a boundary.

The parish structure is such a boundary. Often it is not understood by people in Denmark that they are not entitled to use a church for their wedding unless they have a specific connection or live within the parish. The parish is an “inside” structure, understood mostly by old and elderly people in the country. In the past years there have been discussions about “parish” and some church people want parish boundaries abolished in favour of for instance municipal boundaries.

Viewed in a positive light, however, the parish may function well as a manageable unit, holding together the elements of territory, neighbourhood and network.


The parish principle requires churches to take responsibility for the people who live in or who move through that neighbourhood. (COTM p.48)


There is an important point to consider: that people outside the church do not generally have a sense of belonging to a parish, and rather than in their local neighbourhood they find community and identity in their work, leisure activities, or in cyberspace communication. Where they actually live does not matter so much, but where they feel at home matters. So what they need is a networking church.


The traditional parish boundary (people living inside a specific geographical area ) must be expanded to embrace also the people who move through the neighbourhood and spend their days working there, or their weekends enjoying themselves there.


Our word for parish has its origins in the Greek word paroikos, meaning “the stranger who lives alongside”. The parish church may be described as a “gathering of called out ones who, in the name of Jesus Christ, seek the welfare of the stranger who lives alongside us”. (COTM p.49)


At present the parish functions more as a boundary to prevent access than a manageable unit of promoting welfare to strangers living alongside us.

There seems to be a conflict between frame church and living church (family). I have heard people say: We know that we don’t live in this parish, but hopefully we are allowed to come to your church anyway?”


The tendency of territory being more than a manageable unit and one of actually denying access can also be spotted in some church legislation. Denmark is but a small country and still legislation demands that local churches may financially support various voluntary social work and mission only if this takes place within the diocese[11].  This is a real hindrance for work beyond the boundaries of parish and diocese and for living church.


3. b. Fairness


Under the heading of fairness I will take up two topics: 1) the attitude to “diaconia”, social work (DK: diakoni) and 2) the political voice of the church


1. Diaconia


Studying at New College of Divinity in Edinburgh, which I have done twice, with an interval of 27 years, one finds a marked difference in the way things are done there and how it is done in the Theological Faculty in Copenhagen. Roughly expressed, the Faculty in Copenhagen is an academic, very scientific, institute, which has literally nothing to do with faith and church life, and so is remote from everyday experience and expressions of church.


New College in Edinburgh is naturally academic, perhaps a little less “scientific”[12], in a way bound up with faith and church practice. As a symbol of this a huge statue of John Knox towers in front of the College Library and there is a weekly service in the college as well as Tuesday morning prayers. Life in the College is very family like – teachers and students eat together in the same canteen, and much is done to care for the students. Leaflets say: “Once a student here, you will always belong to our family.”

The above is meant to serve as a descriptive introduction to my findings about “diaconia”. When I asked some of the lecturers about the differences between Scottish and Danish tradition, one of them (Dr. Nicholas Adams, lecturer in Systematic Theology and Theological Ethics) said: It’s your German influence. You think in the German way about theology and church. [13]

I think he is right; Scottish tradition, like Anglican and American, is a “rounder” way of seeing church, more inclusive: faith, mission, evangelism, diaconia, liturgy, are different ways of expressing church, but closely linked and inseparable.


Our tradition, German, and particularly Lutheran[14], tends to split up rather than unite. This has many consequences of which I will touch only one: Diaconia.


When I tried to finds books about diaconia in the Library of New College, there were none. This left me somewhat confused until I realised that I had to look for headings like social issues or church practice. It then appeared that there are several metres of shelves containing books concerned with social issues and social work, and that it is such a natural part of church life that it does not use the name diaconia. Diaconal work is simply incorporated, not a thing in itself. Not a specific practice to be discussed, but a natural part of church responsibility via the calling of Christ.


In Denmark it is different. In DDFK diaconia is a question of choice; it is mostly left to special organisations, a subject of particular interest for some energetic

Persons; never really a natural part of church life. The obligatory money box for the poor cannot be allowed to count as an example of Diaconia.

Some years ago a book appeared: Diakoni – en integreret dimension i folkekirkens liv.[15]  This is an excellent book with many examples of really qualified and successful diaconal work, but to me the title and its very existence seems to confirm rather than contradict that diaconia is a ‘stepchild’ more than natural offspring. Were it integrated at least every second church would have it, and it would not need special promotion.[16]


As a consequence of Lutheran theology and the upcoming of the welfare society, the church in Denmark appears to feel no obligation towards the poor and needy, which in fact weakens its position further. The church is not fair, because it does not concern itself with the needy – and the needy can be needy in many ways, also spiritually – it does not speak or act on behalf of the outcast. The church does not think and feel that caring for those in need is the very obligation it exists on. (See Matt: 25)


In our consumer society of instant gratification which tends to exclude the needy the Christian faith should be the very one to offer means of comfort and justice. But, it seems, not through the established church.


In the new churches in Asia one of the main reasons given for their growth and success is the fact that they are being church for the poor: including the excluded and embracing the marginalised.[17] This reminds us of the earliest church; the time of Pre-Christendom.


Fairness was the issue here. “I will tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me”.

This leads on to my next topic.


2. Political church


In their book “Resident Aliens” (RA) Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon say:


Christianity is mostly a matter of politics – politics as defined by the gospel.

(RA p.30)


The Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen last year said[18] that religion and politics must be separated, and religion kept out of the public sphere. And the prime minister refers to Luther and to Lutheran tradition.

This attitude is perhaps a natural consequence in a country where state and church have been very closely knit and interdependent.

Nevertheless, a complete separation between faith and politics is not only un-Lutheran in its very essence, it is also impossible. Faith and politics do not belong to different spheres and fora, and should not, or cannot, be separated. It is only possible for government to say as above because the church in Denmark seems to have lost its voice and purpose long ago, and because Christianity in Denmark is thought synonymous with the DDFK version of it, i.e. church as a place of civil religion and culture, of culture Christendom without faith. As described in the brochure: “Welcome to the Danish Folk church”:

Many members of the established church simply think that the church should be there to provide help when they need it: if life gets difficult, or for the great milestones of life: births and baptisms, weddings and funerals. People who do not make very much use of the church often say that you can be Christian without going to church. Many Danes look upon faith as something very personal and private that you keep to yourself.[19]



Fairness in the sense of justice, mercy, grace and charity is in the very heart of Christianity, and to achieve fairness action is necessary, and all action is political, or has a political consequence. The love of God calls Christians to be loving, and this love – caritas- forms a bridge between the gospel and political affairs. Caritas has a vital role to play in maintaining fairness and human decency.


The problem is as Hauerwas and Willimon put it:


The church is judged politically by how well or ill the church’s presence in the world works to the advantage of the world (RA p.30)[20]


So in Christendom when the church was in allegiance with the mono-cultural state there existed no real conflict, but in after-Christendom multi- religious society different religions become possible opponents and critics of the state because of their faith, and therefore religious voices must be silenced and referred to the private sphere. This however is not possible, as the calling to follow Christ is always also a political call: We are called to act because we have heard the Word.


Hauerwas and Willimon call Christians “resident aliens”. A people who belong to a strange society (not of this world but in it)  and who must find a way to not only survive in this world but to also actively follow Christ in promoting fairness through suffering and fighting for justice and charity.


Scotland calls itself now a truly multi-religious state, The Secretary for Education and Church affairs in Denmark Mr. Bertel Haarder recently called Denmark a multi-religious, Christian state.[21]

The very words “a Christian nation” or “a multi- religious nation” are political statements, because the terms themselves are loaded with specific values.

So it is impossible to have Christians who are not political, because they are called to serve Christ and each other in word and deed. The Fact of Christ leads believers to words and action in private and in public. The future will not require or show a church less political than now, rather the opposite.


A frame church which is in principle apolitical in its structure and without a leading voice is possible.

DDFK is construed like that. No one may speak on behalf of DDFK. Even the bishops speak only on their own behalf, and often do not agree.


Where CofS has its Assembly, and most other churches in Europe a similar organ, DDFK is made up of small congregations who are principally all equal, but with no common council or synod that might be the voice of the church when needed- or one to set examples or standards.


Danish church people often refer to this lack of leadership with pride – we are all free to act and think for ourselves – but such a system will not work for the future. If fairness in society is to be upheld, and if society is to remain based on originally Christian values and ethics, it is necessary for the church to have a voice and mouthpiece. The church and its people ought after all be the best advocates of Christian values.


A common council would force the various congregations not to agree in every matter, but to consider how they want to be local church and be a living Christian family, and force them to work together towards a common goal, i.e. to find the best possible solution in important matters. It would create a far more visible picture of church in society and of a Christian way of thinking that need not be fundamentalist or outdated.


Poignant, visible signs of Christian belief are needed in Denmark, which is only nominally Christian, because most people below the age of 45 know very little about their “own” religion. [22] 


DDFK statistically shows a large percentage of membership, 83 as per January 2006[23], but this high percentage stems from the fact that newborn children are baptised directly into membership. If not the actual percentage would most likely drop.[24]

When church and state are separated in Denmark , which I consider must happen within the next 10-15 years, as a natural consequence of multi-religion and –culture, DDFK would stand much stronger- in its own as well as the public mind - if it could speak for itself and be a strong advocate for fairness in word and action. To do so it must be political, in the best sense. It must speak up for fairness in society. But never act violently.

Which methods Christians resort to in response[25] will depend a great deal on how they believe God achieves his purposes, and how they interpret Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God, especially with regard to violence. A Christian commitment to non-violence will be extremely important in post-Christendom. (FPC p.200)


Personally I am not totally in favour of a separation of state and church. But I see it as inevitable .At a recent discussion about the Prime Minister’s words  mentioned earlier Dr. Theol. Svend Bjerg gave examples of how DDFK is in fact ruled by the state, and that a future demand for separation of church and state would not come from the state because the state wants to control “the holy ones”.[26]


I think, however, that it will not be possible in a multi-cultural, multi-religious society for the state to keep favouring economically one type of church and one religion.


3. c. Power-sharing


In the Scottish Parliament the principle of power-sharing signals “democracy”, and certainly also the CofS and DDFK both work on a democratic basis with presbyteries and parish councils respectively. But I take up the word power-sharing in a slightly different sense. I want to discuss church leadership and team leadership and ministry.


Leadership in the church is an ongoing discussion because the present system does not function well. No one is clearly in charge. The chairman of the parish council is the head of administrative and economical affairs, the minister heads the service. And all areas in between seem an undefined zone. In theory everything is clearly defined, legislation prescribes different committees for various tasks and the members of the local parish council sign a declaration to work for the life and growth of the congregation; but because this is mostly taken as a formality, and because the idea and purpose of being church is hardly ever discussed it is of no consequence. So what the local parish church is actually left with is a group of people concerned almost entirely with buildings and other administration. Values are not often debated, and how to be church is rarely on the agenda. When it happens it is mostly caused by suggestions from top level [27] (Ministry of Church Affairs); it is not

caused by local questions, conditions or conscience.


If there is to be proper local church leadership, it is vital to have a clear goal for the work, not just as an implicit, never expressed calling, but as a written down and spoken out strategy which guides the budgets and work. Many parish council members are strangers to the thought of a Christian calling, not necessarily unwillingly, but because no one ever speaks of it, except perhaps in the Sunday sermon. And many council members do not find it their duty to go to church regularly.


Stronger leadership is needed in DDFK, but no system will ever work to the full if there is no outspoken goal and explicit set of values at all levels. The Copenhagen Business College will be offering courses in Church Leadership from autumn 2007,  but it will only work in the local church if the attitude of the staff, the members of the parish council, and the pastors are changed into seeing themselves as a community – a family with explicit targets and a commitment to full cooperation.

In all the Scottish churches I visited during my recent 4 months there (approx. 20) a declaration of strategy and value, a stated purpose, was to be found; placed visibly for everyone to see.

These stated purposes may be broadly formulated, but they exist. Parish people have sat down together to define what “being church” means in their particular place.


My second issue of power-sharing is team leadership and team ministry.


Stuart Murray writes:


In many churches leaders are under huge pressure to perform. Churches hire young leaders to reach young people and evangelists to enlarge their congregations. They appoint worship leaders to ensure “corporate” worship is inspiring. They expect their ministers to be attentive pastors and to develop strategies to reverse long-term decline, but demand well-crafted sermons each week, whose preparation uses up an inordinate amount of their time. As Christendom fades, unhealthy dependence on leaders will produce dysfunctional churches and take a heavy toll on leaders. Many leaders will become scape-goats for their churches´ failure to adapt to a changing context, blamed for the decline that is taking place for reasons beyond their control. (CAC, p.188)


Stuart Murray goes on to say that in Christendom only teachers and pastors were recognised as leaders, but more is needed in Post-Christendom. We need to recognise also apostles, prophets and evangelists (see Ephesians 4) – their gifts are necessary for a healthy and properly balanced church.


In DDFK there is a great emphasis on the pastor. And the situation may well be as described by Stuart Murray above, but there is more to be said. In most places church life is centred round the pastor to the extent that his or her attitude or presence determines every aspect of church life. Furthermore the pastor must basically be good at all kinds of ministry, because he or she is on her own. 

Team leadership is still rare, pastoral colleagues in the same church often find it difficult to work together, because everyone has an implicit right to do their job exactly as he/she finds right and according to conscience without being forced to work together.

The church is not thought of as a community and so full cooperation is not demanded or even thought necessary. And few members of the parish councils dare complain to the pastor’s face if they think things are not right. In this way the pastor can become both a hostage to the facts given by Stuart Murray, but he/she can also hold hostage all the rest of the persons concerned with the local church.


In old times the pastor was the powerful, wise and educated man of the local community; in too many cases he/she still clings to this image, and to autocracy, but such an absence of power-sharing does not work in post-Christendom, where authority as such is being questioned.

The hierarchy, which is not inbuilt in the structure, but always implied and felt,  prevents access for other competent people, who may well know a lot more about society and other fields needed to be understood and performed in present day church, than the pastor.

Quite a few competent lay men/women give up on the church on this account, and become post-churched. They are believers but suffocate in traditional church, where neither access, fairness nor power-sharing may be found.


It is urgently necessary to supplant solo leadership with team leadership in church after Christendom. The church cannot live on individuals, but must be a community, a family, with different talents, different gifts, and working together towards the future in an eschatological perspective.


Two quotations from “Resident Aliens” close this chapter.


All Christians, by their baptism, are “ordained” to share in Christ’s work in the world. There is no healing, counselling, witnessing, speaking, interpretation, living or dying the clergy can do that is not the responsibility of every other Christian. Whenever the clergy claim some “specialness” for their praying, witnessing or caring, this serves to confirm the deadly, erroneous concept that clergy are the only real ministers and that the laity exist only to support and feed these real ministers –the clergy.(RA p.112)


And about the responsibility of the laity:


If the laity are not serious about their own ministry, not continually raising the questions which faithful living in the world demands, then they will get pastors who seem to have forgotten God’s story. Church will be a source of conventional, socially acceptable answers, a place to reiterate what everybody already knows, even without the church. We shall die, not from crucifixion, but from sheer boredom (RA p.122)




4. Being Church


I have come now to my main concern: how to be church in present day and circumstance. And just as Hauerwas & Willimon say in Resident Aliens about chapter 6, ”perhaps this chapter should have been first”, so could I. But as they go on to say, “One cannot discuss pastors and what they do, until one has first discussed the church, which needs these creatures called pastors”.

For that same reason I have been describing various aspects of traditional church, before I show possible strategies for change.


Limited space demands that I concentrate on the following aspects of “being church”: 1) changing mindsets, including  belonging and believing, cell church and knowing the parish,  and 2) the diaketic[28] approach. These will be followed by some examples of “new church” from Scotland and Denmark.


4. a. Changing Mindsets


Some attempts have been made in the last 10 to 20 years to make the parish church an active partner in local community life. My own work with De Samvirkende Menighedsplejer (United Parish Aid in Denmark) in 1994 -95 was a result of government recommendation to include local churches in discussing and carrying into effect plans for community development in urban areas.[29] 

During that period I travelled all over Denmark giving talks to local churches about this. I realised then, and it has been confirmed ever since, that cooperation with other agents in the community is not effective until the church has properly defined its own situation, life and purpose.


School and church work together in many places, when it comes to teaching children about Christianity, but in many cases this cooperation boils down to the church being grateful for any positive connection and response from the school.

The church still remains an “outsider” in nearly every context – tolerated as a bearer of history, culture and civil religion, but not much more.

But in this day and age of Post-Christendom it must be more.

It must be a Christian church, because only then will it earn reliability. It must be able to theologically identify the Christian God in a world of competing religious systems, including atheism and unbelief.(cf. p.1)

So instead of toning down the aspect of faith, as has been done, the church should not only talk of faith but live faithfully. And this requires a change of heart as well as mindsets in the church, nationally and locally.

There needs be a change from maintenance to mission, from institution to movement.

Ethos must bean more than form, values more than structure, and there must be  a breaking down of barriers; especially the barriers of age, leadership and tradition. It must change into a church without fixed walls.


4. b. Belonging and Believing


A discussion is needed to establish: what kind of possible congregation do we have?


Generally researchers and sociologists define two common positions: those believing without belonging and those belonging before believing.(CAC) 

Some people call themselves Christian but do not go to church; others go to church but have not really identified themselves as Christians or decided what they believe. Furthermore a process of alienation has taken place to weaken “belonging” to an extent where church does not seem necessary at all. Faith is a matter solely between God and the individual, and the church is merely a service institution providing occasional rituals.

In post-Christendom it is necessary to operate with more than two positions. Stuart Murray lists the following categories:


The semi-churched are those who have some connection with a church and

occasionally participate in church activities but do not fully belong.


The de-churched are those who have some familiarity with church but do not generally find churches attractive or amenable


The pre-churched are those with no prior experience of church, for whom church culture is alien and church language incomprehensible.


The post-churched are those who have, for various reasons and often after years of involvement, decided to leave the church.


The anti-churched are those with personal or ideological objections to church culture and maybe also to Christianity                (CAC p.25)


This is one way of segmenting, there could be others, the main object is to realise that the people living in the parish are many-kinded and different in many ways. The task of building and being church therefore has to target and focus much more than is normally considered. The established church seems to think only of ‘those outside’ and ‘those inside´’.

The “one size fits all” attitude comes out not only in the services offered but also when viewing the congregation. There is no differentiation in what is offered to semi-churched, de-churched, pre-churched or post-churched, with the result that none of these groups are ever seriously approached or reached. 


Post-Christendom churches should risk targeting all these different groups of people, and find a means to church some and re-church others.

To do so the church must be a community, a family, which loves and respects all its kinds of family members, at the same times as it chastens these members to follow the basic family values and ethos: To follow Christ.


Post-Christendom churches will be messy communities where belonging, believing and behaving are in process rather than neatly integrated.(CAC.p.35)


Before such a community comes into existence a conversion must happen. A new sense of ‘holiness’.  People must be converted into discipleship, into following Christ. Conversion is believing and belonging – it is commitment to a story and to a community.

From this commitment springs church. Commitment to discipleship is the necessary starting point.  

Many of the post-churched have left the established church because they found it lacking in faith and commitment. Because the church does not appear to heed its own calling.


4. c. Cell Church


In his book “Church without Walls” Michael Green (MG) talks about the Christian church growing in the Eastern world and asks the question how they do it. How do they spread the gospel? And the answer is: by friendship, small groups, informal meetings in homes.

You do not need a church building or a clergyman in order to grow the church; you do need men and women who are passionate for Christ (MG p. xi)


Romans 16 shows us that in the first century the church was organised  as small groups, households, and in our time this way of building church has been taken up under the name of “house church” or “cell church” by some , mostly free churches.

It is however a necessary path for established church to follow in post-Christendom, where it could serve as a structural reformation. The only possible way for the church to regain people’s trust -or simply win it – is if the church becomes caring, careful and caregiving. In a time of general mistrust, only personal relationships will create trust and confidence.


To achieve this trust the church must work also in small groups where people get to know each other, and care; groups that may even take the place of broken family relationships. This might also destroy the myth that the pastor alone is the one to act out the care ministry. His/her task is rather: to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:12) Pastors should see themselves as those who empower and develop other leaders.

It is important to note that cell ministry is not just a new programme. It is a totally new way of looking at ministry.


The cell ministry is not a department of the church, but the departments of the church are there to serve the cells to which every member must belong. The cells in turn provide the structure through which members may become involved in various church programmes (MG p. 8)


Put differently: belonging and believing come first; from there the structure develops into many forms. The established church has to give up its unwillingness to tolerate diversity, and encourage new forms. It must also learn to deal with dedicated people – people who are gifted by the Holy Spirit: some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph.4:11)


In a cell group the emphasis is perhaps more on practical application than new insight. It is not to be seen as a kind of small group bible study with a thrown in sermon and discussion. The question is rather: How can I be a Christian in practice, how do I need to change, in order to live this.


People today want spiritual guidance; they also want a practice to follow, to be told what to do and how. This applies to all areas of life, (cf. all the do- it- yourself TV shows, programmes about bringing up children, how to live in partnership etc.) and not least religious practice. But such guidance will only work in small groups where people know and trust each other beforehand, and through a mentoring or coaching system.

Building up cell groups as a church basis is a long and slow process, with many obstacles, but undoubtedly a necessary one. 


Transition to cell is not primarily a transition of doing, but a fundamental transition of being. It means putting on an entirely new thinking “cap” and venturing into new possibilities. Some will find this frightening and threatening. Others will discover exhilaration. (MG p.75)



4. d. Knowing the Parish


Church work, and cell building especially, has to change direction from “come to us” to the “go” direction shown us by Jesus. It must not only invite, but infiltrate.

Church people must be visible as Christians everywhere they go.

This means knowing the people who are in the neighbourhood day and night. Creating possible cells consisting of people to be met in all sorts of places, cafés, sports centres, clubs, shopping centres. (For practical examples see ch. 5)

To know the local population and its moves is prerequisite to caring. You cannot care for what you do not know. And church after Christendom must be a caring church, based on a reflected clean and clear theology, which guides people and supports them, as well as incorporates them into the family of followers of Christ.

This of course requires well trained lay people as well as pastors.



4. e. The Diaketic Approach


The word diaketics is a combination of three words: diaconia, ethics, and catechesis.

It was invented because I felt the need to name a method of working which I had long been using, and which I have later found discussed and described in the work of the Norwegian theologian Paul Otto Brunstad.[30]


Diaketics is a method that brings together the aspects of care, (including openness and accountability) theology, catechesis, mentorship, energy, values, infiltration and endurance.


For many years the church has been either educational or entertaining. Care (diaconia) has been considered a matter directed towards old people or outcasts (homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts etc.) and to be done by diaconal organisations.

There is, however, a great need for care in connection with “ordinary” people, not least children and the young. Such care must be incorporated in church work, if this is to have any import on modern people. In a society of mistrust and insecurity people must be able to feel safe and valued in the church. They must be met properly and on equal footing. Here the aspect of careful joins in: Meeting people properly also means that the rooms of the church are properly looked after, that there are fresh flowers, and other signs that people in the church exert themselves.

If the people working inside the church do not exert themselves in every aspect, why should people trust them in spiritual and existential matters.


People do not go to church to be entertained, they hope to somehow get a glimpse of

the divine, even though they may not admit to it. The church should never compete in entertainment, but give strong solid food for thought, in a way that appears relevant and caring. No matter what it does it must have a “stated purpose”. Not only as a local church community as described earlier, but in everything it undertakes. It must ask the question every single time, why do we do this, for whom do we do this, and how do we go about it, so that we achieve our goal. And: How do we combine it with discipleship, with the gospel and the building of community.


Education[31] is not sufficient. Etymologically the word educate comes from Latin ex and duco i.e. to “lead out”. To educate a person is then basically to make him stand on his own two feet, so that he can take care of himself and be free.


To stand alone, on your own two feet, autonomous, liberated. And when we finish with you at the university, and you have your degree, you will not need mother, father, husband, wife, children, God, anybody. We call it “education”.(RA p.153)


What the gospel preaches, however, is that we need each other, that we are liberated for, not from, that we are lead into a community not out. The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin are examples.(Luke 15:1-10)

Church education – teaching- which passes on knowledge without a thought of care and of building community will mean very little to anyone in the long run.


Preparation for confirmation is a good example. Here the majority of young people are “lead out” never to return, because the form resembles school, because it is centred round teaching instead of community and caring, and because it is not considered an integrated part of congregational life. It is the pastor’s task alone, and one man/woman cannot give care or be mentor for 20 young people on Tuesday mornings from 8.15 to 9.45.


A different form is necessary if youngsters are to be lead in rather than out. Church and Christianity must be communicated as a safe place and way of living, not as a set of doctrines that 13 or 14 year-olds do not grasp. The Danish word for educate is ‘undervise’ which derives from Old German “unterwisen” which, according to the dictionary, means “to guide by means of conversation/dialogue”.

It then becomes a two way process. There must be enough time and space to gain mutual confidence and the adults must be trustworthy and seen as role models of Christian life. This requires openness, which is essential in a diaketic approach. Confirmation classes in DDFK often suffer from lack of such conversation and openness.[32]

A great many pastors do not like confirmation classes and see their authority threatened if they do not “teach” in the normal sense. They feel uncomfortable and mistakenly start out from an apologetic attitude.[33]

But only as a person and reliable adult can the pastor be respected, not for his title and vestments, or implicit authority.


Perhaps the best way to describe diaketic method is by a concrete example:

Mini- confirmation classes.(10 year olds) I have developed and used diaketic principles in more than 40 MC courses over the last 10 years and found it very rewarding.

The first principle is that there should always be enough time. 3 hours is a minimum. A class from 2 pm till 5 pm is desirable. The children must have time to ask questions and/or tell about their experiences at school or home, and the subjects raised about God and church. So the first 15 minutes or half hour is a discussion, where the children are encouraged to talk. And they do. Then follows today’s theme, which can be for instance “baptism” “the life of Jesus” “life and death” or similar, and the subject is then dealt with in two different ways,( by two adults), both combining the telling of stories about today’s theme with creative elements, because the children must have more senses in play than just “hearing”. And (this may sound strenuous, but in fact is not) every single sentence uttered from the adults is centred round today’s subject or other Christian issues, and has been theologically worked through beforehand. This requires much presence of mind and positive energy from the adults involved, they must be careful.[34]


After today’s theme, there is a break, where the children have food and drink in ample quantity. They must feel treated. This break is not only to satisfy basic needs but to teach the children good table manners, respect for the gifts from God, as well as a sense of community. The children are told to serve and look after each other, so that the meal can be pleasant for all, and an example of Christian life. The meal becomes a ritual to look forward to because much care is put into it. The table is always nicely set. Preferably we never use plastic mugs or paper plates, also to give them a sense of caring for details, aesthetics, and manners.

After the meal there is time for play, or watching a short film related to the theme of the day. The MC afternoon finishes with a 20 minute service in the church, where parents, brothers and sisters, and the local congregation are invited to join.


The aspects of care, ministry and reflected theology are incorporated and also the diaketic aspect of infiltration. Infiltration takes place when the person in charge of the MC class visits the school to talk about the project. If such a visit takes place there will be a much greater turnout for the class, than if just a letter is sent out.

Infiltration happens when the parents after each class get at letter describing today’s theme so that they “can be prepared for questions from their children”. Actually the parents are being catechised more than informed by this letter; they are given a chance to read up on church subjects, for instance baptism; and infiltration happens at the service when the parents experience their children from a new angle and see that they feel at home in the church. During this short service there is a prayer in silence. And the children are completely silent. One has to be present to believe it.



In recognition of the diaketic method of working the Bishop of Roskilde in 2004 ordained the first two ‘diakechists’ (DK:diaketer).[35] This was very unusual as the bishops in DDFK have been very reluctant to ordain other than pastors.  The two diakechists were called to work in the Cathedral of Silence, which is a pioneer project in DDFK working from the combined diaketic principles of infiltration, care, ministry, mentoring, values and endurance.

The Cathedral of Silence is described in ch.5.


To sum up this chapter of “being church” I have shown the need for:


1)  a new internal mindset – purpose driven 

2)  thorough knowledge of the parish

3)  intergenerational focus

4)  use of diaketic principles in every action.

5)  declared “stated purposes”  to ensure working towards a common goal.




5. Examples of New Church


A large number of projects have followed in the wake of the CWW report and been funded by the Parish Development Fund. I have chosen a few here that represent intergenerational work, knowing the parish, and diaketic ways, especially infiltration: South Leith Parish Church with Ocean Terminal, St. Cuthbert’s, and Gilmerton New Church. I have visited these places and most of the comments stem from interviews with leaders and coordinators, dating from October 2006.

Finally follows a short description of DDFK project the Cathedral of Silence.



South Leith Parish Church and Ocean Terminal


South Leith Parish Church, is situated in Leith which is the Northern part of Edinburgh, the old harbour, near the water: Firth of Forth. Leith consists of an old part with poor people and a new part with ‘nouveau riche’. The latter do not much care for the former. This gives the church a special task of social work and care.

As can be seen on the church’s homepage[36] the first letters of each word signify: Surprisingly Lively Purposeful Congregation. And it is. There are people there mornings, afternoons and nights, volunteers in large numbers, and as one volunteer told me,: “only the minister Rev.Ian Gilmour is employed, then we have a part-time organist, all other work is done by volunteers.”


Words written in a circle towards the middle and ending in a smiling face declare:

God’s purpose for South Leith Parish Church is to worship God,

and to go out in love to others, helping people grow in maturity and bringing them into God’s family.


Together with 13 other churches in the neighbourhood (of different denominations, sizes and economical status) SLPC is part of the Ocean Terminal Project. LCT@OC

stands for Leith Churches Together at Ocean Terminal.

Ocean Terminal is a large new shopping centre. Project coordinator Nikki MacDonald reports:

“Our work? Well, it is like nailing jelly to a wall. But the idea is: Over the wall, into the mall; the church in the market place. In Britain people’s no.1 leisure thing is shopping, so the church must be where people are.” 

Focus A is a visible Christian presence at Ocean Terminal/ the community. Focus B is inward ecumenical work for all the Leith churches.

“What we do could be called the “ministry for hanging about”, or perhaps “loitering without intent”. It is a walking ministry. We are there if somebody needs us, and now that we have become known, people have confidence in us.”


Nikki MacDonald informs that there are more talks with staff than shoppers, and that the project has been very well received.  Apart from being present there – hanging about - they arrange themed walks through the Terminal once a month: one example is “Toddle the Ocean”, which is a walk for toddlers and their parents, and which allows the grown-ups to meet and talk to each other. Last Christmas they had a large X-mas tree decorated with symbols of “gifts you cannot buy”.

The LCT@OT have discussed getting a room in the terminal, but as Nikki MacDonald remarks: that would somehow defeat the object of being on the move…of being a walking ministry, a church without walls.



St. Cuthbert’s


St. Cuthbert’s Church in the centre of Edinburgh is a networking church using the method of infiltration. 2,000 people live in the parish, 10,000 work there and 20,000 come into the area at weekends for entertainment. Traditional “invitation” church is not enough here and much hard work and effort has been put into building networks. One network in the ‘flow cultures’ of the city was the clubbing scene, and in 1998  St.Cuthbert’s initiated the “Exploring Church for Club Culture” Project. It is called Raven.

                      What is Raven?

Inspired by the way Jesus lives and taught, Raven is a resource base for people wanting to follow Christ in club cultures and emerging urban cultures. Through relationship Raven serves to strengthen, support and encourage people in this journey by cultivating helpful paths and stable rhythms of hospitality (www.st-cuthberts.net/projects.htm)


The other obvious networking basis was the business community. This ministry is called Oasis.

In the midst of the pressures of business, people need an oasis of peace to survive. OASIS is the name we give to our ministry among the business community, offering a supportive Christian presence.


In both cases must be noted the emphasis on relationship and support, i.e. care ministry.


St. Cuthbert’s has many other projects as well as being “ordinary” Sunday church.

Personally I attended a Sunday evening healing service. Modern people need “healing” in a world of mistrust and insecurity.

St. Cuthbert’s has a Homelessness Action Team which- among other things- offers emergency night shelters over the winter months. The front hall of church itself is used for this purpose, and volunteers take care of the homeless all through the night, serving cocoa, tea, coffee and soup.

The striking thing again is how included and natural diaconal care is in the CofS way

of being church, and the large number of volunteers.



Gilmerton New church


Gilmerton New Church is a church for young people and their families, started in 2002. It is part of CofS and works alongside local parish churches in South Edinburgh. Being a church for young people most of the work is done in local schools, community bases, home visits or in the streets. The idea is: new church for new generations. Areas of special interest are sports and the arts.


When interviewed Rev. Paul Beautyman (dressed in rugby clothes) said:

“A church that reaches out to young people will also reach their families.

Old church lives with the answers, new church lives with the questions. New church seeks to listen to the questions and then answer them using both old and new answers. Instead of always having answers ready we should have ready questions to ask people, and then form relationships. There is no authority beyond relationship. And there is no relationship without time. We must invest in the few to reach the many. “You must venture to go out… you don’t have to come back” (to traditional church)


So the ministry of Gilmerton is directed towards youth; intergenerational, infiltrating, caring, personal and enduring.


Paul Beautyman concludes: “the biggest challenge for new churches is to keep going, it needs constant focus and hard work and must be centred on: Presence, prayer and partnership.”



The Cathedral of Silence


The Cathedral of Silence[37] (Stilhedens Katedral) is a DDFK example of new church based on diaketic principles. Though it really only comes into existence for a couple of weeks every year it has the intended impact. The church appears on the big Roskilde Music Festival where approx. 100,000 people attend. 75 young volunteers help out.

The church is a big tent and before entering the festival goers have their feet washed. Inside the tent are crash chairs, a fountain, numerous Christian symbols and small cards explaining the symbols and their theology. There is also a constructed grave, to remind guests of life and death. Silence prevails inside, in spite of ongoing concerts.

The Cathedral has existed for 8 years and is a growing success.

5 to 6 thousand people visit the Cathedral every year. I do not have space enough here to explain fully, but the interesting fact is that quite a number of young people see the Cathedral as their church and ask: Where are you, when you are not at the festival?

This confirms the need for fresh expressions of church for young people. The Cathedral serves as a builder of relationships for the volunteers as well as festivals guests, and it works on the bases of infiltration, care and caregiving, guiding through clear theology, personal commitment, presence, energy, and endurance.


In the last few years the Cathedral has become increasingly “international” working closely together with the pastor from the Swedish Church (Svenska Gustafskyrkan) in Copenhagen, Thomas Stoor, and having 8 young volunteers from North Germany. This year in July 6 young Scots will be joining the Cathedral as volunteers;

and in September 6 volunteers from the Cathedral will be going to the CofS Annual Youth Assembly in Dundee .

The Cathedral of Silence is supported financially by approx. 400 parishes in Denmark, and letters and comments received show that many of these supporting parishes consider the Cathedral their youth work.



Concluding remarks


I am fully aware that in Denmark, especially in the cities, there is a lot of good DDFK church work going on which builds on the principles of community, care and personal involvement. With people involved who know how to read the signs and needs of a post-Christendom society, and try to meet these requirements as best they can.


All the same these still constitute an exception rather than the rule. DDFK church at  ground level is generally not aware of the present need for change. The Free Churches in Denmark are much better at mission and movement, their tradition, buildings and administration do not obstruct in the same way. And they speak out, they infiltrate.


For reasons already given DDFK must change if it wants to survive as more than a cultural institution of civil religion. It faces further disempowerment, most likely the registration of births and deaths will soon be out of its hands, and in future less money is available. There is talk of reducing staff; fewer church buildings.


The discussion of “how to be church” in this day and age is not fully going on or it is viewed much from a traditional mindset. Church people think: how can we make do with less money, rather than: how can we be a strong living church (family) as an opposition to an unfair, insecure, mistrusting society? How can we be a voice advocating access, fairness, and power-sharing? How can be we Christians together?[38]


Most other Western European churches have started that journey before us; a long and difficult way- like escaping imprisonment in Egypt and then wandering 40 years in the desert.


The chief way forward is to start concentrating seriously on intergenerational matters, on children and young people, not entertainingly or educationally as now, but by creating disciples, building new congregation. And in this process diaketic methods are necessary because they are in touch with the present time and its need for personal relationships and commitment.

Small groups must be developed (invest in the few to reach the many) and make church also a family.

Christianity matters. Society must be told. The Church must care, believe and speak as God’s people, as followers of Christ.

Locally, nationally and globally.



















































































[1] Cf. Philip Jenkins: The next Christendom: the coming of global Christianity. Oxford University Press,2002.  Jenkins talks of a historical turning point, as epochal for the Christian church as the original reformation… and that around the globe Christianity is growing and mutating in ways that observers in the West tend not to see.

[2] from article by Zygmunt Baumann in FSIG ch.1

[3] David MacCrone is professor of the Dep. of Sociology, Edinburgh University.He has written many articles about the Scottish Parliament.One ex: Peeblin’ Wi’ Stanes: Assessing the Scottish Parliament, 1999 -2003 (www.institute-of-governance.org/onlinepub/mccrone/assessingscotparl.html


[4] On the Parliament website it says: the founding principles are openness, accountability, equal opportunities and power-sharing.(www.scottish.parliament.uk) David McCrone in the  article mentioned above uses this wording: Its founding principles: sharing power, accountability, access and participation, and equality of opportunity.

[5] Access will include openness and participation, Fairness covers accountability and equal opportunity, see note 4 on p. 5

[6] My own church, Antvorskov, is a good example of this attitude, unfortunately.

[7] Steve Mallon is Associate Secretary Education and Nurture in CofS. He wrote the above at my request.

[8] http: // en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Scotland

[9] A few examples: A kindergarden wanted to visit the local church, and were refused entry because the floor had just been washed.

-A friend of mine could not have her wedding on a certain Saturday afternoon, because the church concerned had a confirmation ceremony on the Sunday, and wanted to set up the chairs on Saturday morning. They did not want to work late or extra.



[10] Kirkeministeriets betænkning nr.1477/2006, om opgaver i sogn, provsti og stift, suggests changes, mostly concerned with economy and structure.

[11]  Danish Law: Lov nr. 210 af  20. marts 2006 § 2

[12] The level required for students in for ex. classical languages and exegesis is much lower.

[13] See also Kirkehistorie by Holmquist og Nørregaard, 1949,  bd. 2,p.189

[14] New research asserts that the first Danish reformer Poul Helgesen was a pupil of Erasmus!

   Cf: ” Poul Helgesens teologiske standpunkt og placering I den europæiske humanismebevægelse –   set på baggrund af en præsentation af Erasmus af Rotterdams teologiske programskrifter” by Steen Haarløv, 2006

[15] Aros, 2000. E: Diaconia –an Integrated Part of Danish Church Life

[16] De Samvirkende Menighedsplejer (United Parish Aid in Denmark) has 192 associated local members covering at total of 279 parishes. (Total number of parishes in Denmark is approx. 2,200.)

[17] FSIG Ch. 1. Asia by John Joseph Puthenkalam.

[18] On many occasions, for instance on television on the 15th of February 2006, Dr2 Profilen, and in an article in the newspaper “Politiken”  dated May 20, 2006

[19] An introduction to the Lutheran Church in Denmark publ. by the Council on International Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark,2001  p. 4

[20] i.e. the state, government.

[21] heard on Danish Radio in January 2007

[22] There is a website called www.postchristendom.com   which relates examples of people’s complete lack of knowledge about Christianity. The examples are mostly British, but similar ones may be found in Denmark


[23] www.km.dk

[24] At present a change in church law is been discussed. It suggests that a pastor may no longer refuse to baptise. Has this to do with statistics and/ or an example of state governing church?

[25] In response to repressive legislation as fear of religious terrorism grows

[26] Lecture given in St. Mikkel´s Parish Hall, Slagelse, on March 27, 2007

[27] Ex: Betænkning 1477/2006

[28] The word Diaketics (Diaketik) is my invention, and will be explained later

[29] The governmental Urban Commission in a report concerning urban development from 1993,

  for the first time spoke of churches as possible partners in local networking.

[30] I have attended long courses with Paul Otto Brunstad (in 2001 and 2003), and refer to his books ”Ungdom og livstolkning”, Tapir Forlag,Trondheim 1998, and ”Seierens melankoli” Gyldendal Norsk Forlag,AS 2003

[31] Cf. Betænkning 1477/2006 chapter 2.1

[32] Once I took over a class for a period of 3 months. There were 32 young people in a small classroom, unusually silent. I did not grasp why they were so still. After a while they said to me: We have previously not been allowed to speak or ask questions. If we do our pastor tells us that we cannot be confirmed.


[33] I spoke to 2 pastoral colleagues (on March 21st 2007) who both admitted to hating confirmation classes. One said: I get so angry, I see the kids’ potential rejection of the gospel and everything I tell them as a personal attack, and I cannot handle it properly.

[34]  The diaketic MC course usually runs over 6 weeks + a final service.


[35] The diakechists are: Lisbeth Amdi Hansen and Helle Viuf. The ordination took place in Roskilde on the 2nd of July 2004. See supplementary material.

[36] www.slpc.co.uk

[37] See www.stilhedenskatedral.dk

[38] Church in future must be interdenominational. I have left out emphasis on this because of limited space.

The Hospital Chaplain

What does the hospital chaplain do? Talk to patients?Yes. Talk to nurses and other staff about ethics? Yes. Perform weddings and Christenings? Yes. Pray with and for dying people? Yes. And plenty of other  tasks.

But the most important work is not that of doing - it is that of being. Being with. Being a presence of hope. Sometimes being a presence of faith. Being can be hard, being with completely can be even harder. It takes patience and it takes courage not to offer quick answers or solutions, not to be master of the situation, but to be a fellow human being who also has to face the fact of one´s own death.

In the presence of hope something may happen to both.

I have decided

to follow Jesus,  sings Kathrynn Scott on a much beloved CD.

Whether I decided myself, or he decided for me is a theological discussion, never mind that here. The song continues: no turning back, no turning back. Indeed there is no turning back. And this is not a threat or a way of scaring us, it is a promise! Walk the way of his love, have faith, trust that he walks beside you all the way. Walking his way will be hard but also filled with deep joy.

I have decided to follow Jesus!

My sure portion!

Prayer is the anchor of hope

Recently I spent a whole Saturday with young candidates for confirmation, where we worked with the themes : faith, hope and love. I had a “hope” workshop. And besides talking about what hope is and may be, we worked with prayer. For prayer is the anchor of hope. I asked them, “what is an anchor?” “It is a thing a keeps you from drifting away” some of them answered.

As a hospital chaplain I often sit with people who are dying. And even if all hope of recovery is out, there is still another hope, which is expressed in various ways. It may be the hope of having done something  extraordinary in life, the hope of living on through your children and grandchildren, the hope that you have left  your mark on the world, and not least: the hope of a life after death. People who do not call themselves believers still have a hope of some future life. There is more to life than meets the eye, as many Danes would express it.

So in the very face of death hope is strong. A hope which is often expressed through prayer, for this is the only “language” for this hope.

A colleague of mine calls the hospital the town’s biggest house of prayer. More people pray here, he says, than pray in the church. I agree with him. There are more people praying from hospital beds than from church benches. And these prayers are not long and elegantly phrased, but broken sentences of pain and hope. Prayer is the anchor of hope, stopping us from drifting into despair and emptiness, because it holds us in the belief that there is someone to pray to. There is someone who will hear your prayer. Indeed, there is. And to turn to God does not require long and well shaped praying. Patients often ask me, how can we pray, and I say to them start with the words “Help me God”, that is a very good beginning; I often do this myself, when I do not really know what to say.

The answer to your prayer may not come right away as you would wish it, but it will come, even when you think you’re drowning or drifting away. There is absolutely nothing else you can do out there in the sea of powerlessness, nothing but throwing out your anchor of hope and pray to God.

He has promised to hold us fast. Like a parent he has promised to help his child in the hour of need.

If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast (Psalms 139:9-10)

Dec. 12                                    BV


Washing feet

Have you ever tried to wash someone else´s feet? I don´t mean your child´s. A stranger´s feet, young or old? I have, maybe around a thousand times. Being present as a church at big music festivals in Denmark and scotland we offered the washing of people´s feet. It is awe inspiring. When you kneel down in front of someone else you get the right Christian perspective. You see another person´s face looking upwards towards the sky,  towards heaven.  It is a very intimate moment, full of spirit.  One occasion I shall never forget. two young men came up to have their feet washed. One had red hair and incredibly blue eyes. He did not say much but I felt touched. Touched by Christ. He was there with us. In the eyes of the young man.

born and born again

Born and born again.

Quite a number of years ago I entered the world, 2 weeks early, greeted by these words of my father: What a swarthy looking little devil! Ever since and for the rest of his life I was his princess, and I was with him when he died 12 years ago.

About birthdays. We usually celebrate these having special traditions, buttered buns, birthday cake with candles, songs, and plenty of flags. Your birthday makes you a citizen in your country, citizen of this world. I still like celebrating birthdays, though perhaps I prefer dinners with indian food instead of birthday cakes with icing and whipped cream.

As I have grown older there is another day which means just as much, if not more: The day I was christened. There I became a citizen of another country and community: The Kingdom of God. I was baptised into the Christian community. Reborn by the Holy Spirit. I had a new identity. I became a citizen of two realms. A new life began.

I did not know at the time, of course, but I have since learned. Also because as a Christian one may feel like at stranger in this world.  In some places it is still highly dangerous to be a Christian; not so in this country where people just think you’re naive or backward, and not to be taken seriously, because you have your faith.

We have trouble every year explaining to family and friends that we cannot possibly join lunches and parties on Good Friday. We cannot celebrate on the day our Lord Jesus is crucified. We must be still and grieve on that day, also because in spite of this day’s name in English, it is a day where evil and the devil seems to have the upper hand. (In Danish the day is called Long Friday – a long day in the dark).  In return we will be shouting with joy on Easter morning, when the grave is empty and Jesus risen from the dead.

As a Christian you have to enter into the feeling of the festivals, cry or be jubilant. Christmas, Easter and Whitsun are not just things of the past, but a constant battle between good and evil on earth. Strangely enough I was christened on Good Friday, which I thought strange until I came upon the words St Paul:

 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans, 6:3-4)

To be born and born again means to be responsible: To be God’s hands and voice in the world, to be an instrument for God’s peace. Every single day.

I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God, unless he is born again (John, 3:3)