Sweden, Snow + Simple Movements

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As you now know, I am on an adventure; travelling to at least one European Country each month to find IPE’s (Inventors, Pioneers, Entrepreneurs). First stop: SWEDEN

Even though Charles Kridiotis warned me that I needed to pack warm clothing…nothing could have prepared me for the continual bombardment of snow the Swedish people inform me could last up to 6 months of their year!

Preparing to go in and out of a home (many with red wooden exteriors and white roofs) is a laborious ritual that, at first, took some getting used to… off with the boots before entering, and wrapping up in coats, hats, gloves and scarves on leaving before braving arctic winds that can knock you sideways as you walk on crunchy white paths scattered with salt and gravel. ‘Be careful as you walk alongside buildings,’ i was told as we explored the city of Stockholm, where frozen icicles have dropped from roofs killing unsuspecting victims as they pass-by

Charles leads the Dandelion Network and has set up the ‘Simple Church Sweden‘ page. Together we explored this city filled with organic food restaurants and social hubs. I was often pleasantly surprised by the high-pitched optimistic greetings that sounded something like ‘Hieeeeee’ with a melodic tone…and the bright sunshine smiling faces that seemed to actually enjoy welcoming and serving customers (this is in stark contrast to the greetings expressed in inner-city Nottingham)

An interesting innovation in this land of Abba, Ikea, and, I was informed, the country that invented degrees celsius…is the combination of libraries, cafes, art centres, restaurants and children’s play centres to form one cultural hub…this aids the cross-pollution of ideas that can give rise to the Medici Effect. One particular place we visited in Stockholm stood out as a hive of activity and creative possibilities… a great place for ‘newforms‘ to emerge…I was inspired even further whilst visiting Nobel Museum and learning more about the man and the many since, who have inspired whole networks of innovation…I think we will find many IPE’s (Inventors, Pioneers, Entrepreneurs to borrow a phrase from my dear friend Wolfgang) emerging from this country over the next few years

We spent time visiting pioneers Charles works with locally in ‘Band of Brothers‘ and others in the wider ‘Dandelion Network‘. This included a visit to a simple church that meets in the home of Eric Haney who invites friends he’s met through language school and his neighbourhood over for a Bring&Share meal once a month

I then flew south to Helsingborg to stay with Rickard Cruz who leads a network of simple churches in the region…leaders from various communities gathered at his home in the evening for a meal with Jesus and I shared more about a new government spreading across the continent and what it means to be citizens in this dynamic new order

A couple of days later, we took a long packed car (not a volvo) journey north, with various stops along the way (mostly at petrol stations that sold moose merchandise) to Uppsala for the Pioneer (Pionjar) 13 Conference.

Richard Hultmar, who leads the church planting network, opened the conference with these words:
‘552 denominational free churches closed between 2000-2010 (1 per week). But In the same period 106 new churches were planted. If this development continues over the next 10 years we will have to plant 1000 new churches to return to the level we were at in 2000. But actually we need to do better than this. When we met as church planting leaders of denominations across Sweden, we added all the different visions from the different denominations and set goals to start 500 new churches in this time frame.

We have talked about the strategic challenges we face. Sweden is a ‘white spot’
We used to speak about places in Sweden that had white spots where there were no churches, but we’ve come to realise it’s not fruitful to look at things in this way. We need to see the entire country as a challenge. 97-98% of population have no confession of Christ

Stockholm grows by 2 bus loads of people per day. We need to reach the students who come to the 15 fastest growing cities for the gospel. The Kingdom of God and it’s spread is our common task. The challenge is to become missional in the big cities, and step across the cultural boundaries. There is room to dare new things and also to fail. We want to see a lot more experiments…new ways to be church to reach people for the gospel. Work outside the box. We need people who have lived outside of the free church box to try new things. Those who have faith to dare.’

Mark Aldridge of New Wine, shared on reaching the unreached, discipling people on the margins and presenting the ‘real’ Jesus.

I have benefitted greatly over the years from the so-called ‘New and Charismatic Movement’, but for a long time have contended that we need both the new wine and new forms [wineskins] and that this next reformational movement is pioneering predominantly into the area of Newforms (whilst building on the revelation of the past)…so it was great to hear Mark saying some of these things:

‘We need a new reformation- we need to start doing church the Jesus way. We need easy reproducible churches that get into every corner of society. […] My world is New Wine…but actually before we can pour out the new wine we need new wineskins […] We are moving into a bigger reformation than the reformation. God’s redoing our whole ecclesiology so that it reflects christology […] Many of you are doing rabbit church…it is the reformation…simple, highly reproducible…because it is simple…just needs you, a Bible, some food, some wine […] Whatever way we are doing church, we need to find a way that gets into this multi-fragmented society and find a way of presenting Jesus’ – Big Respect Mark!

Over ‘Fika’ I heard the stories of many people (especially those under 40…to many people to name in this short post) who meet simply in homes or cafes or workplaces all across Sweden (in a similar pattern to what is happening all across Europe)…maybe a multiplication of fika-churches wouldn’t go amiss here?

After a stimulating conversation with Mattias Neve we both came to the same conclusion; a new movement is emerging right now in Sweden and beyond…

I was invited to facilitate 2 seminars where we explored ‘Church Multiplication Movements‘ with the hope that these will be ignited at a new pace across this country of snow, excite-able hellos and…did I mention meatballs and fika?

(many great people I met during this journey have expressed an interest in level 1 mission, multiplication and movements trainingwatch this space for training coming to Sweden soon…)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Andreas Holm February 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Thanks for coming over here inspiring us to get out of the boat!

See you!

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Rickard Cruz February 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

Peter, thank you so much for visiting us! As I said to you I think it was perfect timing and I believe that the seeds for a new movement is taking form. Hope to see you soon again! Big blessings!

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Peter Ahlman March 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Thanks Peter,
It has been amazing to hear about your work i UK.
Hope to see it developed more in Sweden.
Blessings peter

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admin March 15, 2013 at 6:24 am

Peter…it was a real blessing meeting you in Sweden and hearing about your healing adventures on the street.

I hope to visit Sweden in November…would be great to connect then!

Grace and Peace,

Pete

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