600 young people show up for a Bible study in Oslo, Norway. The room can’t fit all of the people, so some people are turned away. In highly secularized contexts like Oslo, the Church remains hungry for more for their city. We sat down with Joakim Magnus, the leader of a city movement in his Norwegian home-city, to hear about the beginnings of the unity movement in Oslo. Listen to the podcast or read excerpts below:
My wife, Elyse, and I started Youth with a Mission in Oslo, but it was not something we originally wanted to do. For me, it felt like being a prophet in your hometown. It wasn’t easy. I wanted God to send me somewhere else in the world, but He said, “No, you’re supposed to do it here. Do it in Oslo.”
We’ve been leading this for six years now.
Our mission is to “Train everyday disciples to change the city.”
We did a survey in Oslo recently and learned 4.8% of the population goes to church at least once a month. That’s about 32,000 people and includes the Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran State Church, and all kinds of Pentecostal churches too.
The churches are not seen as highly influential. People think Christianity is irrelevant and old-fashioned. They think: “We’re living in 2018. How can you think this?”
People see Christianity as a threat to their lifestyle where they live based on their feelings and emotions. Christianity is a threat to their freedom of expression.
What would you say to those who are just starting this city movement work in their city?
In the beginning I didn’t dare to take the leadership that I should have taken. I was scared of the leadership. God told me that he made me a leader but that I didn’t take the role he had given me.
Trust that if God has called you, He will give you what you need.
Go slow. We have business people involved who want to do things yesterday. Pastors are wanting to go a little slower. But make sure that the group is not moving beyond the relationship. Make sure the relationship is not carrying more than it can carry.
The older I get, the more important it is to be to be thorough—to ask, “Is this really God? Or is this just excitement?” Take time to pray.
Think long-term. We won’t change Oslo tomorrow, but have a 40 year plan. Don’t be in a hurry.
Get ownership. The main pastors and leaders need to feel like this is theirs. People need to think: “This is my thing.”
We move chairs at events and do this for free. We are owning it by giving our time and energy into this. Overtime you can hire someone, but for now, we are owning it personally.
Listen to the podcast with Joakim Magnus: