The Blackaby principle is to look for where God is working. There is no question that we are seeing a movement of God’s Spirit in the Nordic-Baltic region. But the fact remains that this is a very lost region. In 2011, Estonia was reported by the BBC as, “the least religious country in the world.” A staggering 86% of the people in Estonia are professed atheists. In Stockholm on Sunday, 0.06% of the people attend any church. That means 99.04% don’t attend church. But in this context is where we believe God will raise up His church.
The Nordic-Baltic Initiative seeks to reach the Scandinavian and Baltic nations. These countries have growing economies and modern cities, but a simple rural life is still common. In the Baltic countries, decades of communist influence led to insular churches with little outreach to youth, causing an entire generation to be raised without knowledge of God or the Bible. In the Scandinavian countries, the rise of secularism and the resistance to the historical connections between the Church and government have resulted in discontentment with organized religion.
Each year, in these nations, there is a steady decline in church attendance and the percentage of people who identify as Christian. Estonia has been reported to be the least religious country in the world. It is not outside religious influence that is taking over but apathy, atheism and a return to spiritism.
There is hope and momentum in this area. We work in this area to plant churches, care for pastors, develop leaders and raise up a generation of spiritual champions.
Our workers gather local pastors and come alongside local leaders to help train, equip and encourage them as they share the gospel. Converge has already built relationships with the evangelical presidents in five of the seven countries, and we have sponsored and led regional church planting conferences in Sweden and Latvia that drew in local leaders and those from surrounding nations.
We partner with local ministries to reach the older generations who left the church during communism. We launch camps and ministries for youth outreach and systems for developing young leaders passionate about disciple-making. We have already seen young people become open to talking about faith and are beginning to bring the gospel into their communities.