Today Sweden’s biggest Christian youth festival starts just outside Örebro. Frizon (which means ”free zone”) celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and is expected to attract about 4000 kids from all over Sweden. The organisers are EFK UNG – the youth department of the Evangelical Free Church (EFK).
Christian events are another feature of the Swedish summer. But not church. In fact many churches are largely empty during summer, when everyone disappears to their summer houses or caravans. A friend of ours from Australia, an expatriate Swede who was visiting recently, was a little surprised. “God doesn’t take holidays,” she commented. So why should we stay away from church? Not that we intentionally “stay away.” It is just that everything winds down, like the whole of life in Sweden during the summer.
But what winds up are Christian conferences, camps, festivals. People don’t suddenly lose their thirst for God, or their desire to spend time with fellow believers. They just experience these things in a different context. We went to a week long church camp at the beginning of July. Sam had already been to a kids camp the week before. And just before midsummer in June was one of Sweden’s biggest Christian conferences, generally called just “Torp,” which has been happening for over a hundred years. This year Philip Yancey, a well known American writer, was one of the visiting speakers. Last week, the humbly named Europakonferensen, the annual conference of Livets Ord, one of Sweden’s biggest churches, had Phil Pringle from Sydney as one of the speakers…
The theme for Frizon this year is “Death.” Sounds young.