Sweden
Kingdom of Sweden
October 24
Europe


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 449,964 sq.km. The largest of the Scandinavian countries, a land of mountains and forests. Only 10% of the land is cultivated.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 8,910,214 +0.25% 20 per sq. km.
2010 9,039,070 +0.08% 20 per sq. km.
2025 9,096,927 -0.01% 20 per sq. km.

Capital Stockholm 1,650,000. Other major cities: Göteborg 460,000, Malmö 250,000. Urbanites 84%.

PEOPLES

Indigenous 88.8%. Swedish 7,860,000; Meankieli (Finnish) 50,000; Saami (Lapp, 5) 16,000; Roma (Gypsy) 5,000.

Non-indigenous 11.2%.

Nordic 3.6%. Finnish 223,000; Norwegian 50,000; Danish 45,000; Estonian 11,000.

Other foreign 7.6%. Former Yugoslavia 148,000; Iranian 52,000; Latin American 50,000; Iraqi 46,000; Turk 36,000; Kurd 35,000; Somali 16,000; Chinese 8,000.

Literacy 99%. Official language Swedish. All languages 11. Languages with Scriptures 4Bi 1NT 3por 4w.i.p.

ECONOMY

Highly developed industry and information technology. The extensive social welfare system requires high taxation lowering international competitiveness. HDI 0.923; 6th/174. Public debt 32% of GNP. Income/person $26,210 (83% of USA).

POLITICS

Parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy. The 185 years of strict neutrality and the past 60 years of almost uninterrupted social democracy as a welfare state has moulded Swedish society. A member of the EU.

RELIGION

Complete freedom of religion. The Church of Sweden (Lutheran) was the State Church until 2000. It still has an important role because of its size and history. There are 21 denominations and religious groups that are given some state funding.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 54.65 4,869,432 -1.0%
non-Religious 41.82 3,726,251 +1.8%
Muslim 3.10 276,217 +4.7%
Jewish 0.18 16,000 -0.8%
Other 0.14 12,474 -1.1%
Hindu 0.06 5,000 +4.0%
Buddhist 0.04 4,000 +0.2%
Baha'i 0.01 900 +0.2%

The official Christian figure is 89% but an estimated 2-3 million Swedes no longer claim to be Christian or believe in God.

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 34 59.41 5,293 -0.6%
Independent 10 0.49 44 +1.9%
Anglican 1 0.03 3 +0.0%
Catholic 1 1.77 158 -0.8%
Orthodox 14 1.11 99 +0.2%
Marginal 8 0.60 53 -1.3%
Doubly affiliated   -8.76 -780 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Ch of Sweden (Luth) P 2,543 2,900,000 7,505,930
Catholic C 40 123,000 158,000
Pentecostal Movement P 489 90,815 147,000
Swedish Miss Covenant P 840 67,000 145,000
InterAct P 344 29,000 50,000
Estonian Lutheran P 9 11,500 49,500
Swedish Evang Mission P 515 18,000 45,000
Finnish Lutheran P 16 16,000 40,000
Jehovah's Witnesses M 344 23,559 39,000
Baptist Union P 337 18,553 36,000
Syrian Orthodox O 40 18,182 28,000
Salvation Army P 175 7,300 23,000
Swedish Alliance Miss P 234 12,800 23,000
Serbian Orthodox O 8 11,500 23,000
Greek Orthodox O 4 11,184 17,000
Latter-day Saints (Morm) M 52 5,444 9,200
Methodist P 67 5,177 9,000
Finnish Orthodox O 1 1,400 2,500
Other denoms [50]   345 54,000 100,000
Doubly affiliated     -570,000 -780,000
Disaffiliated P   -2,000,000 -2,800,000
Total Christians [68]   6,400 856,000 4,850,000

Many Swedes have both membership in the State Church and in other denominations or fellowships.

Trans-bloc Groupings pop.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 4.9 438 +1.4%
Charismatic 2.4 214 +2.9%
  Pentecostal 1.8 163 -0.2%

Missionaries from Sweden
P,I,A1,106 in 49 agencies to 100 countries: Tanzania 158, Ethiopia 40.

Missionaries to Sweden
P,I,A104 in 24 agencies: USA 28, Canada 22.


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Challenges for Prayer

1 The 19th Century was notable for revivals, a vigorous free church movement and great commitment to missions. The 20th Century was the opposite with rapid secularization and emergence of one of the most permissive societies in Europe. Government legislation reflects this. Pray for a reversal of these trends, a national awakening and the re-evangelization of Sweden.

2 The Church of Sweden is no longer the State Church, but its size, political influence and social impact is large. There are many serious problems, among them a widespread rejection of the Bible as the literal Word of God or as the Church's final authority. Many forms of liberal theology are vigorously promoted – feminism (with inclusive language in referring to God), homosexualism (making homosexual 'weddings' an equally viable option), relativism and universalism. There is an evangelical minority, but all conservative views are marginalized. Pray that this Church might be shaken out of error and become a source of life in the Spirit.

3 The spiritual need of Sweden has steadily grown over the 20th Century. In 1900, 99% of the population professed to be Christian. By 2000, 78% had been baptized as infants, less than 48% believed there is a God and only 5% regularly went to church. Over half the population has no real knowledge of the Christian faith. The decline has affected nearly every denomination whether Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist or Pentecostal. Pray that a new surge of life and vision may galvanize discouraged saints and stimulate faith that God can give growth in Sweden. Pray that congregations may also become more relevant and effective in the Sweden of today with its secularized, postmodern and New Age worldviews. Pray for courage to witness in a society where promoting absolutes is labelled 'intolerance'.

4 There are encouragements – water these in prayer:

a) There is some growth in the newer charismatic networks. InterAct (formed out of a union between the Örebro Mission, the Holiness Union and the Free Baptists) has new vision and plans for growth and outreach.

b) The Pentecostal Movement broadcasts on 100 radio stations and runs a successful drug rehabilitation programme.

c) The Pentecostals, InterAct and the Alliance Mission jointly own a Christian daily newspaper that has a significant readership.

d) Credo, the IFES-linked student ministry, has grown through some innovative outreach; there were groups on 18 campuses in 2000.

e) The Alpha Course movement is growing and in 2000 there were 261 of these evangelistic and discipling groups functioning – both in the Church of Sweden and in other denominations.

5 Theological training is a key prayer target. There are two main theological faculties at the universities, where many pastors are trained. This education is affected by the humanistic influence of the universities in general. However, the Johannelund Seminary is conservative evangelical with 130 students; many graduates become Lutheran pastors. The Free Churches run 4 theological schools with one- to four-year courses, including InterAct, Pentecostal, Swedish Mission Covenant Church/Baptist Union, Methodist and Alliance. There are also many short-term Bible courses offered by most denominations. Besides these, there are independent Bible Schools that run mostly one year courses. Over 150 young people are trained annually in short-term courses held by YWAM. OM also has done much to motivate young people for evangelism and missionary service.

6 Missionary outreach from Sweden has been outstanding. The contribution of the Lutheran Church and all the Free Churches in over 100 countries has been used of God. Yet both numbers of missionaries and levels of interest have decreased markedly, with the Swedish Missionary Council Member statistics dropping from 927 missionaries in 1997 (the data used in this book) to 715 in 2000. Pray for a quickening of this vision among young people for short-term and, even more, for long-term work. Pray for the notable work of the Institute of Bible Translation in Stockholm with the vision to provide a translation of the NT in every non-Slavic language of the fSU.

7 Ministry challenges in Sweden:

a) Youth. A whole generation of young people are growing up who have no meaningful exposure to the gospel. Few churches and agencies are equipped to handle this challenge.

b) The Saami peoples of Lapland in the north speak five languages. All are nominally Christian. Bible translation is in progress in 2 of the languages and one other was published in 2000. Pray that there might be an authentic Saami expression of the Church.

c) There are rural and urban areas with few evangelical churches; the latter are unevenly distributed due to localized revivals in the past.

d) The Balkan Wars of the 1990s, with the horrendous ethnic hatreds and 'cleansing', led to a flood of up to 300,000 Albanian, Croatian, Bosnian and Serb refugees into Sweden. Some have since returned home, but many of these tragic, distressed people remain.

e) Political and religious refugees, first from the Communist Bloc, but increasingly from the Middle East and Africa have been given a refuge in Sweden. They are more open to the gospel, but workers among them are few.

f) Muslims have grown from a handful in 1960 to around 300,000 in 2000. Many are from the former Yugoslavia, Turkey (Turks and Kurds), Iran and North Africa. Pray for the calling of workers to minister to them and for the provision of the outreach tools needed.

g) The Chinese number around 7,000. COCM has been used of God to plant three churches among them. A newer challenge is the number of Mainland Chinese students coming to Sweden.

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