What could the church learn from the Bridge?

What could the church learn from the Bridge?

There has been some interesting conversations buzzing around the blogosphere arguing that the Scandinavian crime resurgence owes its life to the Christian heritage of those nations.

I am interested in the other side. So for a bit of fun I wondered if there is  anything that the church can take away from the Bridge?


I love the way that Saga Noren is fully accepted and integrated into the team. Saga is socially awkward and has been described as being on the autistic spectrum.  The deep friendship she enjoys with Martin Rhode is a model of how to appreciate difference. Martin helps Saga to better read social cues and to navigate the complexities of team life. Saga in turn offers Martin uncompromising honesty and helps him face the realities of his life.

The church has a calling and a wonderful history of welcoming people from all walks of life. I have experienced many churches who have shown grace and hospitality to people with a range of social, physical and emotional challenges.  But sadly I have also come across churches that are unable to make room for people with additional needs. I came across  a Sunday school set up that would not accommodate a child with autism arguing that if he couldn’t sit still in Sunday school then he wasn’t welcome. It lead to his mother quietly sobbing in car park and unable to attend church for a while.

“It’s only now that I feel completely myself again. I’ve felt closed down, spiritually closed down,”

Sofia Helin


Saga is loveable because, not in spite of her unusual social skills. I lover her brutal honesty. Its an innocent almost childlike honesty. Sometimes in church we struggle to be honest with one another. Even in pastoral ministry we sometimes beat around the bush and struggle to “speak the truth in love” as  Ephesians 4 puts it.


I love Saga’s car. Apparently i t’s a classic 1970s  Porsche 912E. That’s a pretty old car to be using as a day to day car. But the car has developed almost iconic status thanks to its use in the series.  Strangely as a church we often don’t value our traditions. Many church’s are trying to look as contemporary as possible without recognising the value or the attraction of the classic and the ancient.


There is a clear moral framework at play in The Bridge.  Of course we are not applauding all that goes on in the show, but Saga is unafraid to challenge Martin on his adultery. In fact the show is unapologetic about the idea that everyone has a dark side – there are no spotless characters in the story.  Everyone is carrying a secret, a hidden agenda. The Bridge does not sentimentalise either the terminally ill , young people, older people, the Police. To me it is a clear example of the biblical principle “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

In the church we often don’t know what to do about sin. There are some churches that can only see the sin in us – they operate with a kind of worm theology that does not recognise goodness. But there are also churches that seem to assume everyone is basically ok. We need a deeper grasp of the pervasive nature of both sin and grace. We need to recognise that leaders are still sinners; works in progress that God the Holy Spirit is still working on. We need to be clear not to sentimentalise the young or the old but to recognise all of us struggle with sin – we all have a dark side. We need to recognise that God’s grace is big enough to deal with our sin – but God’s grace is radical enough to help us turn away from our sin too.

So what do you think? What else could the church learn?

photo credit (vauvau) 



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