What Your Church Could Learn from Sweden - Word&Way

What Your Church Could Learn from Sweden

You can learn a lot from traveling to other countries. Take Sweden. The folks there would really like for you to visit.

And perhaps the Swedish Tourism Association can teach us a thing or two about doing church.

Ken SatterfieldKen SatterfieldIn 2011, the government began turning their Twitter feed @Sweden over to ordinary citizens for a week at a time to talk about…well, as turns out, most anything. Although these Curators of Sweden are requested to show dignity, with certain restrictions on hate speech and personal attacks, it is pretty free-wheeling and what has been shared hasn’t always led to positive press.

For instance, the week before this was written, I saw that songwriter @CazziOpeia showed local scenes, shared Pippi Longstocking quotes, gave a shout-out to an international songwriting camp for women and talked about the annual custom of children selling flower pins for charity.

The Swedish Number was another effort in 2016 (theswedishnumber.com). For 79 days, those that called Sweden would be connected to a random (and uncoached) Swede who would talk about whatever you wanted to ask about the country. It attracted almost 198,000 calls from 190 countries.

More recently, Sweden listed its entire country on Airbnb to illustrate its constitutional freedom of access to roam (visitsweden.com/freedomtoroam). And the latest stunt was a case study to promote the country’s quality of life. Five people with high-stress jobs were brought to Sweden and lived in an isolated glass cabin to be close to nature; in 72 hours their stress level dropped 70 percent. (By the way, you can still book these cabins. Find out more at visitsweden.com/72hcabin.)

What can these tourism stunts teach us?

What would happen if a random member could have a week to speak for your church? If so, how much more effort would be put into new member orientation, knowing church doctrine, and how the Bible may address topics of the day?

Of course, it can be said that every member represents their church. The apostle Paul did just that in 1 Corinthians 12 by comparing the church to the human body in, stating each part is important. People often judge a church they’ve never entered by the person they encounter, serve, work and communicate with, both in person and electronically – even bumper stickers.

How do the stories and input of members enhance the uniqueness of a church? Worship participation – prayers, reading scripture, music, drama and testimonies are examples where different ages, backgrounds and perspectives allows the entire church is represented in worship.

How can each person contribute to the life of the church? Are there expectations that members will participate in classes, committee, teams and leadership? Is there widespread leadership training? Mentoring?

How’s the stress level at your church? Are people brought close to God? Is communication encouraged and problems dealt with? Are people glad that they experienced the Lord (and others) when they leave?

I may never visit Sweden, but the openness of a country to take risks, use the power of their individual voices and utilize creative methods makes me want to travel there. I may never visit your church either, but hope that your people, their contributions, and every tool at your disposal are attracting people to drop by and stay a while.

Ken Satterfield is a former media specialist and current marketing coordinator for Word&Way.