Disciple Multiplication Movement in Norway

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Norway’s National Holiday
We ‘happened’ to arrive in the Viking capital of Norway; Oslo (you know; the place where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year), during the national holiday which celebrates the signing of the first constitution back in 17th May 1814 (reminiscent of my last trip to Netherlands where I arrived leading up to a very special national holiday). This time I didn’t set off alone, but traveled with fellow Pilgrims, Rob and Mim (involved with simple churches in London)

And what a celebration it is…we woke up the first morning to marching bands playing in the streets brandishing flags, banners and emblems. We think up to 40% or more of the nation turned out, many in traditional dress (representing the 19 regional counties). We found out there are rules for what you can do when in this apparel; what shoes you can wear, and how you are required to behave when dressed. We lined up outside the palace where the King and Queen lives and watched the parade, eating ice-cream and later hot-dogs and drinking Munkholm (a non alcoholic beer made by monks) and standing to the national anthem.

And there’s much to celebrate…not just the primal scream of Munch, long tunnels or knitted Nordic patterned garms and trolls, but also the legacy of people like Hans Nielsen Hauge; founder of the Nation who had a spiritual encounter with God whilst in a field dedicating himself to his maker, was filled with love for God and people, then for a period of 7 years walked 15,000km across Norway starting house churches and businesses.

Whilst walking to the villages he knitted…and on arrival gave villagers hats and scarves and then, rather than immediately preaching, rolled his sleeves up and began working with the farmers out in the fields. Hans helped many farmers develop more advanced farming techniques and also, how to taught people how to separate sea salt from water, he himself learnt these and other techniques from Denmark.

Among other things, Hans also started factories and connected people in marriage- he would say; ‘you are going to marry that person, move house and start a church or business‘…many found success by following his instructions….and for all the good he did…he was thrown in prison 15 times during his 7 year tour of the land before being confined to prison for a much longer period of time which broke him physically, emotionally and in some ways, spiritually!

In total, Hans wrote 33 books, selling 200,000-300,000 copies (at a time when the population of Norway was between 800,000-900,000 people) so that by the time of his death, most homes throughout the land had a bible and one of his books. Of the people who formed the constitution, 5 of them were followers of Hauge…

He laid the foundation for Norway in seven active years at huge personal cost to himself and now his legacy continues to this day in a nation known as the country with the best standard of living in the world with a socialistic bent and a stable economy

And that’s why in Norway they celebrate the birth of their nation every year…(and here we are; in the right place at the right time to hear the story of another team of Pioneers who are building on this legacy…)

The rest of this post is dedicated to Knut and Elizabeth and their team (family on mission). I’ve recorded some of their story below…(throughout the time here in Norway, I’ve filmed Knut with his permission and made many notes as he has generously shared their vision and story with us…we hope their story encourages you as much as it has encouraged us…)

 

Simple Stories
Knut and Elizabeth, married over 30 years, were 17 and 19 when they met and have been involved in church related work ever since. They started their first church in North Norway in 1982, then moving to the South West to join a community of around 70 people, were subsequently part of the leadership team for 10 years. The church grew to over 900 people and planted out 20 churches throughout Norway…

Discontent
‘But in 2006 we sensed there was a shift coming and God was using circumstances to get our attention and bring change’

We talked about; ‘If we died today what would be left?’

Our answer was: ‘We have our children who know Jesus and will continue the work. We also have other spiritual sons and daughters..’ and so concluded; ‘we have had more fruit outside of church meetings than in meetings’

We began to pray that God would give us more spiritual sons and daughters who we would train in the context of real life; not taking them out of life.

This came to a head when in 2006 I did an interview with Neil Cole and said- ‘if you were to start again in Long Beach, California, what would you do differently?’

Neil said- ‘I would just bring my family and maybe one other family- not a load of church people’

Kingdom Vision
So I asked God in 2006- ‘what do you want me to do for you now?’

God answered ‘The question is not what you can do for me but what I can do for you’

Immediately I gave 3 requests:

1. I want to be your friend
2. Preach the gosepl to millions (using the internet etc)
3. To be able to start multiplicational disciple/church planting movements

It was important to speak about this even when we were not seeing it in practice. So with only 5 of us in the beginning, we kept this vision before us!

It took Hans Nielsen Hauge 7 years to lay the foundation for change in Norway (as mentioned above)…and we believe we’ve started a multiplication movement that will spread all over Europe

We prayed for 12 spiritual sons and 12 spiritual daughters, so we believe in multiplication. It takes time in the beginning to raise up first and second generation disciples. If you believe those people will multiply a thousand times you want to invest well.

In the last 3.5 years we have seen things moving a lot quicker. We baptised almost 70 people between 2010-2013 in Norway. At least 50 are brand new believers. This has led to the planting of spiritual communities across 5 cities in Norway

Pioneer Process

In 2007 we moved to Oslo to start something new. To begin with, our main focus was on our own natural network (oikos) of friends, colleagues and family training them in Matthew 10/Luke 10 principles

Pray

My main ministry is prayer, so I prayed that God would give me time to really give to prayer. For 2 years I spent 2 hours a day in prayer birthing something in the Spirit. Some days I was laying on the floor and crying out. Some days, in a vision, I saw millions of people and hundreds of thousands of house churches. I believe God did something in the invisible realm we are just beginning to see the results of

We’ve already seen lots of economic breakthroughs- especially in the area of buying and selling flats and houses, even when the estate agents have said this is not the right time to sell. Many of us in the network have moved into the same area of our city and some of us live in the same block of flats

People/Place
Although it began with our natural social circles, we’ve recently emphasised preaching the gospel to new people. When we reach new people we’re more bold because we’re not afraid of losing or offending people in the same way we might be concerned with offending long term friends or family members if they disagree with us.

Right now in Europe, we believe the harvest is ripe and between 10-20% of the population are ready, if disciples present Jesus to others in a way they can understand. We believe we can go to any city in Europe, spend the week there and communicate to enough people resulting in a simple church birthed within 10 days

Here’s the Big Question: What if we focused on preaching the gospel to 10% of the population of Oslo in 10 years?

When we moved to Oslo- our idea was not to start a church but a movement

Preach
My faith is that, in Oslo right now, we (our network of simple churches) can share our faith with 100 new people every week

We have heard stories from our friends in India. They ask every Christian to share with 2 new people every week and have observed that 1 out of 10 people become a believer and 1 out of 20 become committed disciples

Sometimes we go out with a camera and a microphone and talk to people on the streets…We asked people ‘would you be willing to answer some questions about faith?’ We were surprised at how many people are so open…

Person of Peace
If the people are really engaging in conversation, we ask
‘Would you be willing to spend 1 more hour talking about this?’ On one of these occasions, we already found 5 people who wanted to do this and 1 even said, ‘I have 2 more friends I want to bring’

One man who has been baptised through connection with our network of house churches, went on to baptise 8 other people and then went on to baptise many other people in another ‘eastern country’

Plant
When I meet with simple churches I encourage people to go out and talk to people about Jesus. We’re focused on the Great Commission; very much single minded and focused on simple practices

We believe ‘Kingdom Come’ relates to many areas- but the first priority is to start making individuals into disciples of Jesus

So every believer should be able to:

1. Tell their story in 10 sentences, and we practice that
2. Share the gospel of Jesus Christ in a simple way
3. Teach new believers christian foundations (ABC’s of faith)

We sit down regularly and practice these things as house churches. Last summer (2012) we saw many come to Christ as a result of this (and as a fruit of prayer and the grace of God)

Persecution
As Knut shares this vision of multiplication movements, others have looked on when they saw just 5 people and said; ‘we’ll believe it when we see it’ [I understand exactly how this feels ;)]

When things were slow in the beginning, Knut, Elizabeth and the team could have become discouraged and stopped sharing the vision, but they continue to share it at every moment they get! There’s now approximately 40+ people in their immediate network (most of whom live within a radius of 1 square mile), who are committed to this vision, a total of approx 9 house churches; some slightly further afield, with almost 70 people baptised in the last couple of years, and Knut firmly believes the foundation has been laid for multiplication movements not just in Oslo, Norway…but for Europe…

And you know what? I’m inclined to agree…
(I’ve travelled consistently across my own city, then region, then across the 12 regions of Britain and now, we’re just beginning this intentional travel across the 50 countries of Europe….and meeting people with this kind of faith (applied in action) has been few and far between. It’s so refreshing, exciting and encouraging to hear such passion, faith, and to see such commitment from a community of people…the reason I share Knut’s story so fully is that I’m hopeful that the faith of many more will be kindled through this and other stories of those who have gone before and are pioneering…blazing a trail, forging a path that others can follow in Europe…it was slow to begin with in the UK too, but over the past few years we also believe a foundation for movements has begun!)

Truth&Dare
Meeting Knut, Elizabeth and the team in Oslo and the surrounding area over the past few days with our dear friends and co-workers Rob and Mim, has been very inspiring…meeting kindred spirits in a nation of seafarers and famous explorers! I’ve outlined their story using the Pioneer Mission Process; a path God led me, family and friends down over the past 13 years and the path we now train and coach many other in across Europe in the hope that this might also help others who are just starting out to engage in this process practically too

God led (and continues to lead) Knut, Elizabeth and the team in very similar ways in Norway to the ways he has led us and others in Britain…even though we have only just met and have never shared notes with each other before on our respective journeys or processes. I’m sure this is happening in many nations in Europe right now, where God is teaching people His principles forged in the fire of persecution, the heat of the desert, the forge of character and the patient endurance and experience of pioneering long and hard to lay lasting foundations. In the end…we will all know that it is God who has done this work through us, so that no single individual man, women or network will be able to claim the responsibility or glory for the lasting fruit that is achieved in our continent and beyond.

Together with Knut, Elizabeth and their team, we believe we are partnering with God and others to spark disciple multiplication/church planting movements across Europe in our generation!

Are you one of those who believe and are willing to count the cost and begin, even though no-one seems to be looking? Maybe you’re already involved and there are things that we can learn from you?

If this post has inspired you, or you are involved in the same kind of thing, or would like to travel with one of the 50 Countries Expedition parties, please contact us…and where Jesus leads us to partner in His mission; let’s go together giving him all the glory, honour and praise!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Sokell May 21, 2013 at 10:32 am

Hi Peter. This is very encouraging. I have great heart for Norway and have been many times, often finding lots of influence of ‘faith’ church teaching and a reliance on American and British (mainly) evangelists and ‘pastors’. I always felt that the culture and national characteristic were more given to house/simple church movements.
In 1999 Bren and me travelled from Halden to Alta (via the ‘Oase’ conference in Bergen), praying as we went and visiting those who we had been given contact with. It was a wonderful experience of seeing God at work both in the mainstream and the margins.
Hope all is well with you, Marsh and your kids.
All the best – Tim

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admin May 23, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Thanks for your comments Tim!
This was my first trip to Norway and I spent the whole time with a network of simple/house churches very much focused on the current wave of disciple and church multiplication movements thinking and practice (ala Neil Cole, Wolfgang Simson, T4T, Victor John, David L Watson stylee)

It’s great meeting people from different nations contextualising this stuff for Europe that surely needs a 21st Century movement (of course building on previous centuries and moves of the Spirit)

Let’s watch and be utterly amazed…
Or even better…let’s put our hands to the plough and run the race with perseverance…

Pete

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Knut May 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Thank you for visiting Oslo, Peter! You gave us the right message at the right time. God bless your ministry in Europe!

Reply

admin May 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Knut…thanks for welcoming us…I hope this post has captured the Spirit of your story and inspires many others as it did us…looking forward to the future together…

Pete

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David May 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Hi Pete,
thanks for sharing Knut’s story, so good to hear!
Blessings from Hamburg,Germany!
Davod

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admin June 1, 2013 at 7:57 am

Hi Davod

Yes…really good spending time in Norway and hearing their story and their vision!

Grace and Peace

Pete

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Eliot Kovcs March 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Dear brothers,
I am from Hungary, but one of my friends moved to Oslo and she has looked for a church. I promised, that i will help her. Could you help us to find a house chuch, or a groop, or church for her? Please write to me in e-mail!

God bless your life, and your family, and your churches in Norway!
Eliot

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