See our ‘State of the Church’ series for past years
Part 1: Is the local church disappearing?
FOR SALE: 45-year-old, 270-seat church; $4.5 million or best offer. In the late 1950s, it was the aim of the United Church to have a church in every high school catchment area in Canada. Today, many of those congregations of 200-300 people have dwindled to less than 100. Some have closed altogether, and their buildings are being sold. The same thing is happening with other mainline denominations.
Read part 1 Is the local church disappearing?
Part 2: Alternative forms of church
“MY deep conviction is that we need both ‘hard copy’ and ‘wireless’ churches,” said David Wells, general superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
In a thoughtful document he wrote when assuming his current position, he pointed out the tremendous cultural gap between those who prefer hard copy (books and newspapers) and those who prefer wireless forms of communications (cellphones and the internet) — and how the Canadian church can reach such diverse populations.
Part 3: Selling sacred spaces
If it is true that the average life cycle of a church is 70 years, then what happens to the church building after the church closes down? If the neighbourhood model of local church is being replaced by a variety of other models — megachurches, buildingless churches, house churches, etc. — then again what happens to the buildings these neighbourhood churches used to own?
Part 4: Fire in the church
ONE of the things I have noticed about churches built before World War II is that almost every one of them is made of stone. These churches were built to last. They were built bigger and heavier than they needed to be; they are permanent, fixed, solid structures. Go inside these churches, and the pews are bolted to the floor.
Part 5: Pondering the church of the future
“OVER the last 20 years, more and more young people think the church is irrelevant, out of touch and narrow-minded,” said Paul Robertson of Youth Unlimited of Toronto.
Part 6: A theology of the economic crash
I WROTE most of this article in Ottawa while attending an event entitled ‘Forum on Faith and a Sustainable Economy,’ hosted by the the Canadian Council of Churches’ Commission on Justice and Peace.
The Forum brought together religious professionals, theologians, politicians, academics, aboriginal leaders and non-governmental organization types, each with their own perspective on the challenges facing Canada due to the global economic recession — particularly in the areas of poverty and the environment. The word ‘sustainable’ was bandied about frequently.
Part 7: What I see: a vision statement
OUR future as a church is dependent on the church’s local, district, national and international leadership.
These leaders must strengthen our existing churches and ministries, while championing a new wave of creative and sustainable churches and ministries that reach people not currently connected to Jesus or his church. It is not a case of either/or; it is a case of both/and.
Part 8: Faith groups face municipal government
THE Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has released a 20-page report entitled ‘Zoned Out: Religious Freedom in the Municipality.’ It is an introductory guide that seeks to provide the reader with a basic understanding of the religious freedoms of faith groups and the process of engaging with local government when they encounter zoning challenges from municipalities.