Shared Stories: Promising Practices in Canadian Congregations

Church is boring! Where are all the young people? Why is church membership and church attendance dropping? Over and over again, I hear comments and questions about what’s wrong with the church.

And yet, 15% of Canadians attend religious services every week, and there are 30,000 congregations in Canada. So we might rather ask, what’s working in those churches? And how can we encourage and build on those parts of the church that are flourishing?

That’s the more positive approach taken by the Flourishing Congregations Institute, and why I’m so keen on the work that they are doing. Instead of lamenting the state of the church, or dismissing it as already irrelevant, or ignoring what’s happening, they’re looking at what’s working in Canadian churches and seeking to share those stories and provide resources.

On November 26, the Flourishing Congregations Institute plans a National Gathering at Ambrose University, Calgary, Alberta. It’s called Shared Stories: Promising Practices in Canadian Churches, and the intent is to bring together church and denominational leaders from across Christian traditions to engage in conversation and learning together. The Institute will present some preliminary findings,  plus panel conversations with leaders of flourishing congregations, a plenary session on congregations working together to reach out by Bishop Don Bolen (Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina), and I’ve also been invited as a plenary speaker on congregations and change.

Let me hasten to add that I’m no expert–just one pastor sharing the story of one congregation: what’s worked, what hasn’t, and why we’re all still very much in process. I’m looking forward to contributing to this Shared Stories event, and to learning along with the other participants. Registration is FREE, and I encourage you to consider joining me and a maximum of 250 registrants.

For more information and to register, please visit Flourishing Congregations National Gathering.

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Lead Pastor of a mid-size, multi-staff church and the author of Four Gifts, Christ is For Us, Sacred Pauses, and other books on spiritual growth and Christian living. Blogging on Writing and Other Acts of Faith ( and When You Work for the Church: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how we can all do better (