If you’ve been leading the church in Canada for the past 5-10 years, you’ve heard it all, “We are in a Post-Christian Culture”, “The church in Canada is on the decline”, “Less than 10% of Canadians attend Church”. This is definitely not exciting news. However, we still hear stories of people coming to Jesus Christ. So, what does that look like in Canada? Here are some insights into how Canadians can reach Canadians.
Fish in the Right Pool: Jesus calls us “Fishers of Men” so what does that fishing look like? There are 4 “pools” in Canada; Christians (approx 10%), Those Hostile towards Christianity (approx 10%), those who have a religious background but currently do not attend church, those who have no religious background but would call themselves spiritual or open. Although I don’t have the exact numbers on those two pools, it’s safe to say it’s about 80% of Canadians fall into those two pools. Reginald Bibby talks about that here. So, as a church, who are you fishing for? Most churches I’ve seen fish for Christians. Everything they do is designed to take a Christian from one church and bring them to theirs. This is not evangelism. This is “shuffling sheep”.
Know Your Scales: The Engel Scale was developed by James F. Engel, as a way of representing the journey from no knowledge of God, through to spiritual maturity as a Christian believer. The model is used by some Christians to emphasize the process of conversion and the various decision-making steps that a person goes through in becoming a Christian. You can view the scale here. Most Canadians are in the –8 sphere. The question is, how do you move people from –8 to –7 and so forth? What do you say to someone in the –8? Is your church prepared to speak to them on a Sunday? For most churches, they operate at a +1. We need to go back to the drawing board and look at what does it mean for our church to engage those who are far from God? What does that look like? Churches that wrestle with this, see results.
Build Bridges: Church Outreach in the early 2000’s looked like event planning; carnivals, pancakes, Musicals, VBS, Canada Day block party and more. The problem with this is that we never built any bridges, we only promoted our brand. We became “the church that did that thing” but it never translated into people coming to church on Sunday. The main fault of this strategy is that we never built bridges of relationship to those we served. We never got their information and invited them back. We weren’t intentional about connecting with them while they ate their pancakes. We never invited them to the next event while they were at this current event. We missed these opportunities. When we start to see outreach is building bridges of relationships vs. promoting our church, we will see results. The goal is to connect with people in the community and find ways to meet their needs. What if everything you did as a church was designed to make a connection with someone that was far from God? What would that look like?
How have you been effective in reaching Canadians with the Gospel and seeing them respond? Share your learning.