Finland has a largely secular society, even though Christians number 84% of the population. 90% look with favour on the Church’s social work, but only 8% consistently attend any kind of religious service. The last revival came in the 1960s. Strong belief in the power of human reason, and rejection of supernatural things, now dominates the society. An ultra-modern country like Finland probably needs both reformation in the existing Church and also new expressions of faith. 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 legacy of missionary sending remains strong, even as the Church faces the challenge of stagnation and decline. Finns and their churches are effective at sending out missionaries, especially to the unevangelized world.
The Free Churches, both Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal, are relatively small but spiritually vigorous; charismatic renewal has had a marked impact. These churches are not growing, but they are holding their own in a wide context of decline. These groups are enjoying a greater unity than in years past. Pray for this to continue, for cooperation in evangelism and missions among these various bodies, and between the Free Churches and Lutherans.
Ministry to young people is still valuable. A high proportion of Finnish young people attend confirmation camps; this is an opportunity for them to come to a living faith in Christ. Pray for believing and godly camp leaders. Pray for the student ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Student Mission (IFES, in 15 of 20 university cities), LEAF and Cru. Interest and responsiveness are not problems in Finland: good follow-up and discipleship are.
Immigrant minority groups. Although Finland has one of Europe's lower immigration rates, there are still many minority groups to reach. The number of foreign university students is growing; many of these are from other faiths. Very few churches are actively reaching out to unreached immigrant groups. Pray that foreigners in Finland might have the chance to encounter Jesus in a real and attractive way. Praise God that, at the same time, much of the immigrant population is from a Christian background bringing a vibrant church life to their newfound host country.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.