9 Canadian Ministries that American Church Leaders Need to Learn From

If you are an American Church leader looking for a glimpse of what the future of reaching our country is you need to study ministries reaching Canada. Our neighbor to the North is more secularized and unreached than the United States. In fact, in a recent study there is evidence that Christianity might be “completely extinct” from Canada within 100 years. This provides a fascinating case study for American Church Leaders looking to learn how to reach “post-Christian” cultures. In a lot of ways the culture of Canada is like a view of what the culture in the United States is heading towards …  Canada is more culturally diverse than the U.S., Same Sex Marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005, every political party in Canada is left of the Democrats … [study of differences between Canada & U.S. (at a pretty funny site)]

cdn-face-paintingI’m biased. I’m Canadian. I’m proud of the country I grew up in and started my ministry but I also love serving at a church in New Jersey. I think the fact that I’ve been shaped and molded by Canada equips me to reach America. I wanted to share some of the ministries that I look at from Canada to help us reach America. Canadians are by nature less self promoting so I doubt that most of my readers have ever heard of any of these ministries. I deliberately wrote very little about these ministries so you’d have to go and explore their websites to learn more.

  • Village Church // Surrey, British Colombia // This church is seeking to reach post-modern West Coast people. It started in January 2010 and already a few thousand people. Love the way they articulate their purpose and calling. Refreshing.
  • The Freeway // Hamilton, Ontario // An innovative mix of non-profit coffee house, art/music venue, church and community commons that seeks to be as a third place for their city. This ministry provides a model for a deeper level of engagement with a city than just offering Sunday services. 
  • Nouvelle Vie // Montreal, Quebec // Missional experts have label French Quebecois as the largest unreached people group in North America. Nouvelle Vie is a thriving church of thousands of people in the midst of this culture. Watch and learn.
  • New Direction Ministries // National // Engagement with the gay-lesbian-bisexual-trangendered-queer community is often polarized into “radical acceptance” or “radical condemnation”. This ministry provides a “third way” and attempts to “nurture safe and spacious places for those outside the heterosexual mainstream to explore and grow in faith in Jesus Christ.” Love the work that they do to help churches understand and care for GLBTQ folks.
  • The Meeting House // (Mostly) Toronto, Ontario // A thriving multisite church of 15+ locations and 5,000+ people. Part of a movement of churches that is an offshoot of the Mennonites … this church represents a fascinating mix of theological uniqueness and executional excellence. Love their focus on peace, simplicity and community.
  • Arrow Leadership // National // Lots of ministries talk about developing leaders … Arrow is doing it. This intensive two year program is literally shaping the leaders of the Canadian church across denominational and cultural backgrouns. It’s impact on the future can’t be understated.
  • Southridge Community Church // St. Catharines, Ontario // This church is a fascinating blend of evangelical outreach and social action. Their weekend services are engaging and they have deep ministry engagements with homelessness, seniors / widows & single parent families.
  • Muskoka Woods // Lake Rosseau, Ontario // Part summer resort for kid & part leadership development organization … it’s is a fascinating view of what ministry impacting “Post-Christian” culture looks like.
  • Connexus Community Church // Barrie, Ontario // This church is laser focused on reaching people who aren’t in church today. They seek to craft environments that people who are far from God will connect with to help lead them to Jesus.

Are you a Canadian church leader? I’d love to hear of other ministries that you think we should be learning from our home and native land! Leave a comment.


  1. Rich, thanks for the list. I had not heard of most of them and love learning from our Canadian sisters and brothers.

  2. Good read, Rich. Happy Canada Day!
    There’s a fascinating church in the city of Lloydminster, AB/SK Canada called First Baptist. It was established by British settlers (Barr Colonists) in 1904. Its history says it was born, grew, closed its doors, was reconstituted, split, plateaued, declined and plateaued again. But in recent years things began to change. Its current attendance is not as astounding as the megachurches in its southern neighbor or major Canadian cities. But for a church of almost a thousand in a town of 27,000, First Baptist may be considered a megachurch in its own right! What makes it unique is how the almost 110-year-old congregation which was wallowing in stagnation just three or four years ago is now experiencing revitalization! A large number of churches in Canada are stagnant or dying so I think many old Canadian (and US) churches can learn from how they reversed decline.

    First, like men of Isaachar (1 Chron 12:32), the leadership became cultural exegetes aside from Biblical exegetes.
    Second, it reaffirmed that Jesus is still the hope of the world, but also recognized that Christianity is no longer as influential as it used to be; and there are more unchurched people in the city than most church-going people think exist. And so, the church lovingly presents the “offensive” truth of the exclusivity of Jesus in salvation in ways the unchurched would understand.
    Third, it recognized that Canada’s face is changing. The city projected that much growth will be in the area of immigration, and the church proactively responded by intentionally “coloring” the staff and the board. Currently, the Lead Pastor is a Cook Island Maori who’s been with the church for ten years and was for a long time, one of the three non-white members of the church. It was his sensitivity to the changing times which led the church to call staff members who are not Anglo/Caucasian- a youth pastor of African descent, and a worship pastor which they hired directly from the Philippines (who is a friend of mine). Today, with more than 27 ethnic groups represented, the church reflects the multicultural flavor of the city. The highest growth recorded among all the ethnic groups in the church is from the Filipino community which numbers almost 200 (from 21 three years ago). Substantial growth among Africans comes following.
    Fourth, the church recognized that attendees should look past themselves and embrace an outward focus. The element of outreach is vital to all FBC programs and events, from weekend worship services to providing meals at the local men’s shelter. Everything the church does is geared towards “leading people to a vital relationship with Jesus Christ” (the church’s motto).

    It might be great to include this church in your current list or maybe worth looking into by strategists and church growth students.

  3. Hello,

    I’ve been looking around your website and have enjoyed the multitude of practical tips for ministry. I wanted to let you know though, that it may be helpful if you have social buttons on each post making it easier to share the content or email to myself for later.


    1. Thanks for dropping in and for the idea.

      Always looking for ways to help my readers! I’ll look into these.

      – Rich

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.