5 Canadian Church Myths Worth Busting (And An Invite to Join Us in June)

We've seen God do some incredible things at Connexus over the last 9 years. We're so thankful for that!

And now, for the first time we're opening our doors to the wider church in Canada as Connexus hosts the first ever Canadian Church Leader's Conference on June 8-10th 2017 in Barrie.

Connexus people…we're going to give you a chance to volunteer at the conference soon (stay tuned). And if you're a church leader from another church in Canada, just know you're invited!

In fact, now's a great time to register for the conference, because until Friday, you can still get the super-early-bird rate.

The theme of the conference is “Change the Story. Change the Church.”  The church in Canada has fallen on hard times. In many regions, less than 10% of the population attends church on Sundays. We'd love to see that change.

On that note, ever wonder what's really holding you and your church back?

I think it's often the myths you buy into that limit not only your potential, but tragically, the potential of your church.

All 5 myths are, generally speaking, widely held beliefs that on deeper reflection aren't completely true.

The reason myths are so dangerous is that myths, fully grown, become excuses.

[Tweet “Myths, fully grown, become excuses.”]

Here are 5 myths we had to break through before they became excuses for a lack of progress.  You can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can't make both.

You choose.

See if anything in this list ever shows up in your thinking.

You can make excuses or you can make progress, but you can't make both Click To Tweet

Canadian Church Leaders Conference


1. What works there won’t work here

You've heard it so many times. Maybe you've said it. “What works in the Bible-Belt/big-city/suburbs/fill-in-the-blank won't work here.”

In Canada, it plays out this way: What works in the U.S. won't work in Canada.

[Tweet “Often, your attitude determines the outcome.”]

9 years ago when we launched Connexus Church (with many of the same people I'd worked with for over a decade in the area), we signed on as one of the first North Point Strategic Partners. People were both fascinated and critical, wondering how anything that originated in the Bible-belt of the US could work in a postmodern, post-Christian Canada.

But surprisingly, it does work.

Whenever people ask me how much translates to north of the border, my answer is always the same: about 90%. We run Andy Stanley's teaching via video and people love it. Imagine that… American video teaching working in Canada. (People also claim video teaching doesn't work. So that's two birds… one stone.) Sure, I also teach live. But attendance really doesn't vary based on the communicator. And one of our physical locations is 100% video. Our online ministry is also 100% video.

Most of the model translates directly. So do the branding and marketing.

When it comes to what works where – it's often your attitude that determines the outcome. One of my all-time favourite quotes is from Henry Ford, who said, “Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.” Bang on.

Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right. Click To Tweet

2. My context is different

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard a church leader say this, I think we could pay off the national debt.

Look, your context absolutely matters. A city church is different than a country one. Urban is different than suburban. West Coast is not East Coast. North isn't South. I get that.

But I don't think I've ever heard a leader pull out the “my context is different” argument as a reason for their success (my context is different, and that's why we're reaching X thousand people…it can only happen here!!).

I've only heard leaders say it to justify a lack of progress.

Leaders trot this out when they want to explain why they're not able to do whatever someone is suggesting might help them.

But the reality is that you are ministering to people. And people have some pretty universal tendencies. Think about it. In the West, we:

Listen to most of the same music.

Wear the same clothes.

Drive the same cars.

Struggle with love/hate/shame/unforgiveness/brokenness/bitterness.

People are people.

And sure, a few more people drive Priuses and Teslas in Vancouver and California than they do in Montana or Saskatchewan. But that doesn't mean the Gospel should die because of it.

Your context isn't that different from anyone else's as long as you're ministering to people. And should definitely not be a reason the Gospel can't move forward in your neighbourhood.

3. If you build it they will come

Field of Dreams was a great movie. But the tagline doesn't make for great theology.

Too many church leaders think their problem is their building or lack of it.

If their church wasn't portable, it would grow.

If they got out of their ancient building, they'd grow.

If they got into a bigger/smaller/better building they'd grow.

We opened a multi-million dollar broadcast location last year north of Toronto. We had a good year, but I don't think it was because of the building. Sure, well-wishers and the curious came and checked it out. And then they left.

A building can help you grow, but it won't make you grow.

Think of a restaurant for a minute. Do you ever go back to a restaurant because of a facility? Probably not. If a restaurant has a great building and terrible food, you're out of there.

Conversely, there are more than a few hole-in-the-walls that serve amazing tacos that have long lines of people waiting to get in.

You can lead a growing church in a dying building, and a dying church in a great building.

Buildings don't reach people. People reach people.

Buildings don't reach people. People reach people. Click To Tweet

4. People don’t give

I hear this often, especially in Canada. And actually, the stats would say that Canadians do give less per capita to charities and churches than Americans do. But that doesn't mean your people have to fit that trend.

Over the last five years, we have worked really hard to raise the level of giving among all ages at Connexus, and it's worked.

It's a systems approach we've used that has seen us run over 600 people through a budgeting course that has resulted in a ton of financial freedom for our congregation, especially for Millennials. They know we're for them, and we want them to save for retirement, save for their kids' education, save for their vacation and give generously. More importantly, we've shown them how to do it.

At the same time, we've run a multi-tiered approach to raising giving and funding our mission.

The result? We have more money to reach people than we ever have before AND our families have more money for their lives.

Just because some people don't give doesn't mean your people won't give Click To Tweet

5. People don’t like big churches

The data just doesn't support the view that people hate big churches. Many large churches keep growing. And many smaller churches keep shrinking.

It's important to keep your church relational and feeling ‘smaller' as you grow.

The bigger your church is, the smaller it needs to feel. But through small groups, serving teams, multisite and other ventures, larger churches continue to grow even as they establish smaller footprints.

Christmas Eve is one of our biggest outreaches every year. Last year, we hosted 2,400 people in four cities. The largest room holds 700 people. So it's a big reach using small rooms.

It's not a question of whether people like big churches or small churches. People like effective churches.

If a large church is effective in reaching people, people come. If a small church is effective in reaching people, people come and bring friends until (often) it's no longer a small church.

It's not whether people like big churches or small churches; people like effective churches Click To Tweet

There's More

If you want more, Jeff Brodie and I break down these myths in much more detail on Episode 1 of the Canadian Church Leaders Podcast. Listen in for free.

Subscribe for free on iTunes and GooglePlay and you'll get a fresh episode every month as it's released.

And make sure you don't miss joining us for the Canadian Church Leaders Conference in June!

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