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Canadian Evangelical Missions Engagement Study

22 February 2017
Theme:

Report 4: Canadian Evangelicals and Missions Promotion in the Local Church 

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Executive Summary

Fourth in the series, Canadian Evangelicals and Missions Promotion in the Local Church examines how local churches connect and communicate with missions and missionaries. It looks at who promotes missions within local churches, as well as when, where and how missions content is communicated and relationships developed.

This report is based on ground-breaking, comprehensive, national research on how Canadian Evangelicals engage with “mission” or “missions,” as part of the Canadian Evangelical Missions Engagement Study series.  With over 3,400 Canadians polled and qualitative interviews with 56 Evangelicals, this series of reports provides a snapshot of how and why Canadian Evangelicals engage with missions, and forms a baseline for future study. 

Promotion

  • Pastors (59%) and lay people (51%) said it is usually a pastor who is the most prominent missions mobilizer in the local church. About half (47%) of pastors and 30% of lay people identified the senior or lead pastor in that role. Less frequent service attenders were more likely to identify a pastor as the main mobilizer.
  • Time in worship services or “platform time” is scarce and guarded, and this means that intentionally or unintentionally church leadership signals what is important to the congregation by what is included. The worship service acts as a filtering mechanism.
  • The cancellation of Sunday evening services has increased competition for Sunday morning worship service time and means missionaries have significantly fewer opportunities to connect with congregations.
  • More than half (58%) of pastors say their church promotes missions from the pulpit at least monthly.
  • Two-fifths of lay people (41%) and three-fifths of pastors (30%) indicated they do not pray for long-term career missionaries unless prompted.

Connection

  • Most pastors (89%) and lay people (86%) said they personally connected with their local church’s long-term, career missionaries in the last 12 months through one type of communication or another.
  • Most pastors connected with missionaries through email (78%) whereas lay people were almost equally likely to say they connected through mailed letters (41%) or email (39%).
  • Congregations start relationships with missionaries or mission projects because of a trusted relationship or an in-person contact rather than a technologically mediated connection or advertising.
  • Pastors  expected to hear from missionaries through social media monthly (45%) compared to just 23% of lay people. The majority of pastors (60%) and lay people (57%) expect missionaries to stay in touch by social media at least quarterly if they are able.
  • Informants indicated formal written communications should include goals set, goals met, and stories of transformed lives in a length of two pages. 

Education

  • Three-quarters (74%) of pastors agreed their local churches actively foster conversations about the biblical basis for their missions engagement
  • About one-quarter of pastors (24%) and lay people (29%) said their local church either held or helped organize a mission conference in the last 12 months
  • Pastors were more likely to agree (55%) that their local church’s missions program included an ongoing mission component focused on ministry outside of Canada than lay people (40%)
  • One-third (34%) of lay people said they did not know if their church had a children’s program with an ongoing missions component compared to just 6% of pastors.
Evangelicals know that missions are supposed to be important for them, but they don’t have the “energy to be connected to all these things,” as one interview informant said. Attention in contemporary society is fragmented.  As a consequence, many Evangelicals tend to use heuristics, or short-cuts, to allow them to evaluate and connect with missions and missionaries without having to go to the work of engaging deeply with particular missions. These heuristics often take the form of trusted recommendations. The relationships themselves validate the mission and allow Evangelicals to support missions and missionaries with confidence.
 

Download the complete report as a PDF document

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