A Word From Steve Jones
September 17th, 2018
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… Everyone loves TOP TEN lists! I recently spent some time analyzing four SURVEYS done by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and Angus Reid from 1993, 2003, 2013 and 2014.
Looking at these surveys gives us a snapshot into the church and faith trends of Canadians over a twenty-year period (1993 – 2014).
I found the study fascinating. This is by no means scientific, but I hope it’s helpful as we seek to remain missional in reaching Canadians for Christ in 2015:
TOP FAITH TRENDS in Canada over 20 YEARS
1. Drop in Attendance:
Weekly religious attendance has had a significant decline between 2003 and 2013.
· Dropped 28% between 1946-1976
· Dropped 30% between 1976-2014
· Dropped 1% between 1996-2003
· Dropped 10% between 2003-2013 — why?
2. Fastest growing category:
The categories “never attend a religious service” or “have no religion” are the fastest growing categories between 1996 and 2013. In fact, they are the only categories that are growing.
3. Growing drop in Affiliation:
Once affiliated evangelicals who have unaffiliated are largely dropping out (1996-2013). There is a crying need for discipleship and revival.
4. The Resurrection doubted:
In Canada, approximately one in four 40 to 60 year olds and one in three 20 to 30 year olds do not believe Jesus was resurrected (2013 survey).
5. All Religions are True:
There is a growing religious syncretism in Canada with one in three strongly agreeing that all religions are equally valid (2013 survey).
6. Drop in passion for Evangelism:
Among Canadian evangelicals, there has been a drop between 1996-2013 on whether it’s important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians. “Strongly agreeing” dropped from 62% (1996) to 52% (2013) and those who “moderately” agree with evangelism dropped from 37% (1996) to 29% (2013). Less and less people are committed to evangelism.
7. Support in Global Christian missions:
Commitment to financially support Christian missionaries among Canadian evangelicals is still generally strong (2013 survey). However, approximately one in five generally affiliated Christians do not support missionaries.
8. Less and less read the Bible daily:
Bible-reading has steadily decreased in Canada between 1996-2013. Among evangelicals, about 45 – 50% read a few times weekly and 40% read once a month or less.
9. Is the Bible Reliable:
Between 2003-2013 there has been a huge decline in Canada in the belief that the Bible is trustworthy/reliable. The evangelical percentages are less, however there is less confidence in the reliability of the Bible among evangelically aligned Canadians than there was 10 years ago.
10. The Euthanasia debate:
The vast difference in support for legalizing euthanasia between evangelicals (approximately 20%) and the Canadian general public (approximately 66%) makes this a potential “lightening rod” issue. It would seem we are going to eventually lose this battle.
11. Practicing homosexuality in the Church:
The vast difference between evangelical Christians and other Christian-affiliated Canadians, among young Canadians (18-34), in supporting practicing homosexuals fully involved in church life is staggeringly different. 53% of evangelicals strongly to moderately disagree with this, while only 18% of other Christian-affiliated Canadians strongly to moderately disagree.
Good News from Reginald Bibby ....
I attended the North American Baptist Conference in Vancouver a couple weeks back and listened to well-known sociologist and Canadian church-trend watcher Dr. Reg Bibby from the University of Lethbridge (to the left). Reg has Baptist roots and has been studying Canadian faith trends for 40 years. In his book Unknown Gods (1993) he predicted a massive decline in church attendance and faith interests by 2015. Recently, he completed a survey to see if his predictions were on the mark. What he discovered is that many in Canada are still engaged and even embracing faith. Some 30% said they embrace their faith. Half of these attend a religious service at least once a month. If you look exclusively among those born outside of Canada, 40% indicated they embrace religion. According to Bibby, this is where most of the growth in our churches is coming from… immigration!
One statistic that stood out in Bibby’s presentation is the recent increase in Canadian evangelical growth. He showed a graph of static evangelical growth from 1871 to 2000, with a mere 8% growth over those 130 years. Since 2000 it’s jumped to 11%. Not sure why? Increased immigration? Recent church-planting efforts? Missional emphasis in our churches? This is great news, encouraging news.
However, the overall twenty-year picture may still seem a bit discouraging. I see it as an opportunity. Light always seems brightest in the growing darkness.
Our Fellowship theme verse for 2015 is Luke 19:10,
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
May we and our churches remain vigilant as ambassadors for Christ in our neighbourhoods and the nations.
See the SURVEYS for yourself
If you would like to read and study the EFC’s “Church and Faith Trends in Canada”, (48 pages) authored by Rick Hiemstra, EFC’s Director of Research, you can find it attached to this page at the bottom. Enjoy! It’s an important tactic to know the landscape before doing battle. Let’s remember to send out the choir first (2 Chronicles 20:21).
Have a blessed week,