Area: 338,145 sq km
This northern country is 70% forest, 10% lake, 8% arable land.
Population: 5,345,826 Annual Growth: 0.38%
Official language: Finnish, Swedish, Saami, sign language Languages: 23 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
|Religion||Pop %||Ann Gr|
Humanism, secularism and materialism have strangleholds on most Finns. While the majority (90%) look favourably upon the Churchs social work, only 8% of Finns attend any kind of religious service monthly or more, and only 3% of Lutherans attend weekly. Spirituality has more or less become privatized. Christians may number 84% of the population, but society is effectively a secular one. The last revival occurred during the 1960s. Interest in spiritual things offers some hope, but Islam and fringe religious movements are currently the fastest growing. Pray for a spiritual breakthrough that will cause people to seek the Lord.
The Lutheran Church retains a stronger evangelical tradition than most state churches, partly a heritage of the revival movements of the past that have influenced its spirituality. The large majority still claim affiliation with Lutheranism, but much of it is a nominal or social attachment. Only around 12% of Lutherans would be regarded as evangelical. The wider Lutheran Church faces several challenges:
a) Liberalism. To a large degree, the teachings and direction of the Church are shifting from traditional biblical values to a much broader morality. This is the source of much controversy, since the prophetic role of the Church in society is blunted.
b) Independent and lay movements within the national Church framework. There are many such groups, a large number from a revivalist background. It is in these that most committed Lutherans find their fellowship and platform for evangelism. They may face increasing restrictions in their evangelical preaching and teaching from a liberal Lutheran hierarchy, but these groups are a very important element of Finlands spiritual life. Pray for their continued freedom to function and lead in many aspects of spiritual life.
c) Younger leadership. Increasingly, aging church populations find themselves out of touch with a younger generation. A more vibrant spirituality must replace traditional religious and cultural forms. Sadly, a growing number of younger, more evangelical Lutherans are frozen out of leadership positions precisely because their faith is too dynamic! Pray that these vibrant younger evangelicals might not lose heart, and pray that God will open doors for them to have a great revitalizing effect on the national Church.
d) Future tensions. As with many mainline groups elsewhere, a major fault line is appearing in Finnish Lutheranism between the liberal element and a more evangelical, conservative element. How this plays out, and who is perceived as causing the conclusive schism, will profoundly shape both the Lutheran Church and Finnish perceptions of Christianity. Some of the more conservative groups and fellowships have already split off and formed new denominations along what they believe to be more biblically faithful teaching.
For an additional 5 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Finland.