Canadian Church Growth Factors
Acts 2:47 …And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
When asked: “As a church board member for over thirty five years you must have seen lots of changes?” To this the old elder answered: “Yes, and I have been against every one of them!” Not surprisingly the congregation he was a part of was not growing.
In April of this year Christian Evangelicals were surveyed by Outreach Canada and asked “Are Canadian evangelical churches growing?” Only ten percent of the respondents said that they were. Over sixty percent said that Canadian churches were at a plateau; ten percent indicated decline and five percent said they were closing (“disintegrating” is the word that was used). These statistics suggest that the vast majority of Canadian evangelical congregations are “stuck” or declining. What could be some of the reasons for increase of the ten percent that are growing?
From my constant trips across Canada, here are three church growth factors that I observe as I speak at conferences and meet leaders of growing congregations.
Community Engagement Attracts Church Growth: The new paradigm here is to find out what a community needs (from the mayor, chief of police, school principal etc.) and see how your church can respond through God’s love and service. However, please note that “service evangelism” without the Gospel is just “service.” Though it is good and helpful, it is not evangelism and, in my opinion, will not, in itself, lead to church growth.
Children’s Ministry can be a Magnet: The church that my wife and I attend has focused on having a solid and vibrant children’s ministry for nearly a quarter of a century. Their slogan is: “Children are the church of today - the leaders of tomorrow.” Intentionally, they go beyond Bible stories, games and babysitting to teaching scriptural life principles and practices in order to disciple future leaders. They are being wonderfully successful.
The “Monday Morning Church” Grows by Influencing Everywhere: Like the Good Samaritan in Jesus parable (Luke 10) one person who watches for opportunities to show the love of God as they go through their work day can have a powerful influence. Churches that are equipping, empowering and encouraging their people to be a minister and witness wherever they are, have a growing influence and become attractive “in the real world.”
Lastly, two other common denominators I notice in growing evangelical congregations is a healthy reliance on prayer and “a strong sense of mission” that propels them forward. May the Lord add daily to your church too!
A message from David A. Macfarlane, director of the EFC National Initiatives. [Note: David has since left the EFC to work at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.]
DVDs and CDs for Seminars Are Now Available
The EFC is presenting a new one-day seminar for pastors and church leaders across Canada. If you want to discover new ways to tackle the problems facing your congregation, you will want to visit the EFC website to order a set. The recorded sessions, including Bruce J. Clemenger, Don Hutchinson and David Macfarlane, are now available as a resource for churches in a 4-disk DVD set.
Join Others and Have More Impact!
Hundreds of other pastors have led their congregations to affiliate with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Review the benefits of affiliation and act now. You will receive a special welcome packet with your first free resources. For more information on how your church can become an affiliate of the EFC, contact email@example.com or call 905-479-5885 or toll free at 1-866-302-3362 (ext 235).
What Happened to Christian Canada?
Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame, offered an answer to this question in his book What Happened to Christian Canada? Church & Faith Trends asked a panel of four distinguished Canadian scholars to offer their responses. Read Robert Burkinshaw of Trinity Western University’s response from an evangelical perspective in this issue of Church & Faith Trends.
Fill out our Missional Church Survey
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is conducting a national missional church survey [NOTE: survey now closed] of pastors and churches. Your voice will help determine how Canadian churches perceive and practise strategic missional values such as integral and incarnational faith. Responses before November 20 are eligible to enter the draw for a laptop computer.
Global Missions Survey
The Global Mission Roundtable is conducting a national missions survey [NOTE: survey now closed]. The objective is to better understand how the Canadian church is currently equipping - and can be equipped - to participate in what God is doing globally in the 21st century. Surveys completed before November 20 are eligible to enter a draw for a laptop computer.
Christian Leaders Connection Seminars
The CLC Seminar, “SHIFTS: Changing Gears to Advance Issues Facing the Church in Canada,” is coming next month to Kanata, Ont. on November 12 and to Peterborough, Ont. on November 13. For more information or to register visit our website.
Another Cross the Street” evangelism conference, with the theme “Tools for Engaging Your Community and Growing a Church,” is set for May 1-2, 2009. Keynote speakers will be Eric Swanson, Henry Schorr, Claude Houde, and David A. Macfarlane, director of the EFC National Initiatives. As well, there will be ten dynamic seminar workshops to choose from. This practical conference focuses exclusively on how to show the gospel in creative ways to your neighbours, impacting a community through acts of Christ-like love.