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: 9,293,026 Annual Growth: 0.49%
Official language: Swedish, with five official minority languages Languages: 30 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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Sweden has a rich Christian history, with a legacy of revivals (especially in the 19th Century), a vigorous Free Church movement and great commitment to missions. Gustavus Adolphus finalized the establishment of Sweden as a Lutheran nation and fought in Europe to preserve the fledgling Protestant movement. But the 20th and 21st Centuries have been characterized by advancing secularism and moral decline. Pray for a national spiritual awakening and for the re-evangelization of Sweden.
Ministry challenges in Sweden:
a) Youth. This youngest generation can be accurately described as post-Christian; most are thoroughly secularized and ignorant of biblical truth. The aging population and overall spiritual malaise contribute to a general decline in youth ministries, but a new spiritual curiosity is starting to build. Culturally relevant youth-focused ministry is as vital as ever.
b) The indigenous Saami peoples (20,000-25,000 in Sweden) of Lapland in the north speak four languages, and at least some of them retain their traditional culture. Most are at least nominally Lutheran. Mission Covenant Church, ECM and the Lutherans have fruitful ministry among them. Translating the Bible and publishing Christian materials in Saami is a slow and expensive process; praise God for the NT completed in two Saami languages. Pray that there might be an authentic Saami expression of the Church.
c) European immigrants from former Communist nations are one of the faster-growing groups. Influx has made Orthodoxy the fastest-growing Christian megabloc. Pray for genuine Christian witness and ministry to the spiritually needy Bosniaks, Serbs, Poles, Russians and others.
d) Muslims have grown from a handful in 1960 to around 330,000 in 2010. They are primarily from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Bosnia and Somalia.
i Integration is a major problem. Large swathes of these populations never learn Swedish or successfully enter employment, potentially creating a Muslim underclass. In Stockholm and Malmö, some Muslim neighbourhoods are deliberately non-integrative and can be unsafe for outsiders to enter.
ii Nominalism and secularism are challenges for Muslims as well as for Christians, since a large number of the younger generation stray from the faith of their fathers. The response to European liberalism can often be a dangerous reactionary fundamentalism.
iii There are very few workers focused on these largely unevangelized groups. Pray for more awareness, more workers and more resources for this challenging task.
e) East and South Asian peoples, of nearly 35 nationalities, number from 6 to 15,000, depending on the group. Their small numbers make them difficult to discover and reach. COCM works among the Chinese in Sweden and has at least six churches.
For an additional 6 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 Sweden.