Origins And Development

The beginning of Brunstad Christian Church dates back to May 17, 1898 when a Norwegian naval officer named Johan Oscar Smith converted to Christianity onboard a naval ship called the “Thor.”  

Smith describes his conversion to his family in a letter written on May 19th 1898:

“Now I can tell you, dear parents, brothers, and sisters, some wonderful news: I am very happy. And why? Because I have received Jesus as my Friend and Brother, and now He is my all in all. Before, I could find no peace anywhere; but now thanks be to the God in heaven, I find peace everywhere.” 

In the time that followed, Smith earnestly sought to deepen his relationship with Christ and seek out the truths of the gospel in God’s Word. He became passionate about sharing these truths with all who were interested. 

From One Man to a Worldwide Church

In 1905, Smith’s brother, Aksel, was also converted, and the two brothers began to discuss the Gospel in a series of letters. Soon after, Johan Oscar and Aksel Smith began to write for various Christian publications with the desire to bring God-fearing people together at a time when several revivals were sweeping the country. But the Smith brothers found that their teachings met greater opposition and their writings were frequently rejected because of their sharp and uncompromising message. 

On January 1, 1912, Johan Oscar and Aksel Smith began their own publication called “Skjulte Skatter” (or “Hidden Treasures”), with the goal of “provid[ing] insight into the deeper things of God.” This periodical is still in print more than a century later, featuring contributions from active members worldwide.  

While Johan Oscar Smith certainly met opposition, he worked zealously with God’s word and with those whom he crossed paths with. Over the course of his 40-year naval career, he met individuals along the entire coast of Norway who were enthusiastic for the message of the gospel, and this eventually led to the establishment and development of 19 Norwegian-based fellowships. As time went on, this shared faith spread to other countries and continents.

BCC in North America

In the 1960s, missionaries from Brunstad Christian Church came in contact with seeking Christians near Winnipeg, in central Canada, and then near Salem, Oregon, in the U.S. Over the next 20 years, fellowships would spring up in various parts of North America. One of these Norwegian missionaries, Sigurd Bratlie, visited these fellowships many times, working extensively to lay the foundational truths of the gospel in individual hearts. Several others worked together with Bratlie, including Aksel J. Smith and Arild Tombre.  

Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Norwegian missionaries Kare J. Smith and Sverre Riksfjord traveled to countless youth conferences, igniting a desire and faith for victory in the hearts of many young people. The churches in North America grew further through this preaching of faith, and through the missionary work of Monrad Grannes, Michael Twilley and Jether Vinson. Today, hundreds of adults, youth, and children are active members of Brunstad Christian Church North America.

Bringing Individuals To A Connection With Jesus

Despite the fact that Brunstad Christian Church has grown steadily since its beginning, and is now a worldwide Christian community, Johan Oscar Smith never put a strong emphasis on gathering many people. Instead, he worked diligently with each individual soul. In a 1915 publication of Skjulte Skatter, Smith wrote: “We do not strive to teach the  masses, but to teach individuals godly fear.” Smith was more interested in working with a few sincere souls than in having many followers. 

Brunstad Christian Church and BCC North America have held fast to this profile, and to the Biblical teachings that Johan Oscar Smith left behind. They remain the evangelical foundation that we build upon. Since our humble beginnings in the early 1900s, our vision has been to bring individuals to a connection with Jesus, so that a personal faith in the gospel can be born in each individual person.