Investigating Church Growth in Canada

The team behind Ambrose University's Flourishing Congregations Institute loves the church in Canada and has a deep desire to see it thrive. This desire, combined with the team's complementary academic interests—education, organizations, leadership, practical theology, and sociology of religion—set them on a path to define what flourishing congregations look like in a uniquely Canadian context.

Now entering its second year, the Flourishing Congregations Institute connects the church and the university in two important ways. First, by engaging academics in listening to churches so that the analysis the institute offers is relevant and based on the true experience of Canadian congregations. And second, by taking the expertise that is cultivated through academic research and sharing it with churches so that they can benefit and grow.

The institute has accomplished a lot since its founding. Here are some of the highlights:

Listening to church leaders and congregations

In the past year the institute has embarked on over one hundred interviews and focus groups with church leaders across five Canadian regions and a range of Christian traditions.

Building strong partnerships

In addition to Ambrose University, the FCI is privileged to partner with Cardus, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Canadian West Districtthe Christian and Missionary Alliance Canadian Midwest District, Turning Point Consultingthe University of SaskatchewanWillow Creek Canada, and World Vision Canada. In Fall 2017 the Institute will announce another very exciting partnership – stay tuned!

Sharing results with churches

As research is completed, results are posted at This spring the team published their initial findings in A Preliminary Look at Flourishing Congregations in Canada: What Church Leaders are Saying, available in print and as a PDF on their website.

The institute will continue to share its findings through a variety of avenues as research progresses.

Looking ahead

In the coming year, the team will lead an ambitious national congregational survey with over 1000 Catholic, 1000 mainline Protestant, and 1000 conservative Protestant paid church leaders, board members, ministry leaders, and attenders. Want to learn more about this phase of their research, possibly participate in this research, track the findings, and benefit from the insights gleaned? Subscribe for updates on the front page of their website.

Learn more

Hear from Principal Investigator Dr. Joel Thiessen on what the research team has learned about imaginative risk taking in Canadian congregations.

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