During the last couple of decades around 300 churches have been planted here by people from a non-Swedish culture or nationality, mostly – but not exclusively – in larger cities.
The so-called diaspora churches have become an important part of Swedish Christianity. During the last couple of decades around 300 churches have been planted here by people from a non-Swedish culture or nationality, mostly – but not exclusively – in larger cities.
One of the most striking examples of this is the Nigerian denomination Redeemed Christian Church of God, which globally has around 6 million members and currently about 40 church plants in Sweden. And there will probably be more, as the vision of this denomination is to plant worshipping communities with only 5 minutes distance from each other – all around the world!
From Nigeria there are also a number of churches in Sweden from denominations like Deeper Life Bible Church and Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries.
There are missionaries who have also been sent from other parts of the continent, such as the Ghanaian Church of Pentecost, so far with a handful of congregations in our nation. The language of worship is English, Ghanaian, and Swahili. In addition to Ghana and Sweden, they are represented in about 130 different countries. They have now officially joined the Swedish Evangelical Alliance as a member church.
The examples can be multiplied. International Mission Church, with connections to Chile, gathers almost 1,500 people for its Sunday services in Stockholm. For Sweden, this is a very big church. There are also many congregations with Ethiopian, Eritrean, Iranian, or Afghan connections that are generally closer to the established Swedish denominations by cooperating with and/or being connected to them.
The general pattern, however, is that the connections between the “new” and the “old” churches are weak. Most of the church plants in question already belong to their own denominations, often much larger than our Swedish counterparts, and we consequently need to work on building relationships with one another without making “ownership claims” or trying to recruit each other to our particular denomination.
This is also something that I, as leader of the Swedish EA have taken to my heart. Already, we have had several meetings with representatives from both Swedish and diaspora churches, and it has been a great joy to get to know each other and to pray together. Pastor Tillarh from Redeemed Christian Church of God is one of my new friends in this fellowship, and I am looking forward to having more contact with him and other missionaries sent to Sweden in the years to come!
Olof Edsinger, General Secretary of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance. This article was first published on the website of the European Evangelical Alliance, and republished with permission.