November 23 – Canadian Christianity may be on the decline, but pastors like Kevin Makins from Eucharist church in Hamilton, Ontario are doing their part to bring a fresh voice and point of view to welcome people new to the faith, and bring back those who may have walked away.
“Someone once defined our church as a front-door; back-door community. There is an open door for people brand new to the faith – they have no church background. They’re able to walk in as they are, without needing to have any of the answers or the language or the culture pinned down, they can just come as they are,” Makins told Molly Thomas. “And a back door church because maybe people are disenfranchised with the church, or have walked away for a season, a couple of years, this is a place where either can re-engage with all of their questions and their doubts, and their frustrations – and they can bring that into the church.”
Joel Thiessen has studied denominations across Canada on what works to grow a church. He says there is a rise of young people who say they have no religion. Churches from every denomination have ways to flourish and grow, and they can all learn from each other. Thiessen says the most effective way of growing church attendance is to simply invite a friend.
“Personal relationships are key. It’s the number one reason someone joins a religious group, because someone they know invites them into that group.”
A drop in church attendance across Canada could have larger societal impacts. Researchers Dr. Brian Clarke and Rev. Dr. Stuart MacDonald document this in their book Leaving Christianity: Changing allegiances since 1945.