How can Adventist mission touch the lives of people who see religion as part of their culture more than part of their lives?
Denmark has a rich Christian history dating back 1,000 years, and even today, 75 percent of Danes identify with the state church,1 Brian Arly Jacobsen, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and an expert on the sociology of religion, notes that Danish Christians generally see religion as a matter of national rather than religious identity.2 As a result, average church attendance is around a meager 2.7 percent.
Jan-Gunnar Wold, communication director for the Adventist Church in Denmark, is working with his media team to tackle the problem head on. They have made a conscious choice to try and reach the younger generation through videos and social media.
“As many young people do not even know Jesus, we felt it was important to promote personal life-changing stories about faith and how others became believers in Jesus,” Wold said.
His theory is that people are interested in people. Even with limited resources and equipment, the communication team decided to publish short videos under the name “Min Historie” (“My Story”) regularly across the church social media pages, including on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
During the Adventist Media academy held in Denmark in September 2019, Wold stated, Tthe statistics for these short videos show that we reach a lot more people than we otherwise would have done.” However, he recognized that this is just a start, adding, “Our prayer is now on how to connect with the viewers and lead them to a better understanding of faith and into church fellowship.”
While such videos are available aplenty in English, few have been made in Danish. The stories recently released include that of a young woman struggling with anxiety issues; a former drug addict and an atheist who is now a passionate Christian; and a teenage atheist who chose to attend an Adventist school and was determined not to be influenced by the worships or Christian values. She got baptized in April 2019.
A second type of video that uses simple apologetics is also being developed to answer the kind of questions non-church-going believers might ask. In one episode, Thomas Müller, president of the Adventist Church in Demark, asks, “How can you believe in God when there is so much suffering in the world?”
Even though all the videos appear on the official church social media pages, youth and church members are encouraged to share them on their own pages and via their local church social media. Youth sharing with youth has a much greater impact than simply pointing to an official church page, leaders said.
To reach a wider audience, a few of these life-changing stories are now being subtitled in English. Leaders said that they hope the influence they are having on secular Danes can be replicated elsewhere.
The videos are available to watch on the Danish “Min Historie” YouTube playlist.
The Adventist Church in Denmark has 2,445 members who seek to share their faith with a population of 5.8 million people.
1. Sharanya Sriram, “Religion in Denmark,” Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, JYAN blog, https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/posts/religion-in-denmark.
2. “Religion and Identity,” official website of Denmark, https://denmark.dk/people-and-culture/religion.