Friday, May 19, 2006

Decoding Culture part 4

Here's are excerpts from Alison Johnson's Harvest Field Research Initiative: Summary of Findings Religion Data (August 2003). This is based on 2001 Canadian Census data. You can read the full report here.

Our greatest challenge in Ottawa-Hull is not with those of Other Faiths or those with No Religion, it is with the vast majority of people who associate themselves with the Christian Faith, but are not active disciples. The challenge is how to reconnect with these people.

If we describe ‘Unreached’ people are those who have not made a positive connection with the gospel as evidenced by lack of regular participation in church services (yearly or never). It is our focus to connect with these people through various means to share the whole gospel and connect them with a church family where they can be discipled. Unreached people represent 69% of the Ottawa-Hull population. 68% in Ottawa and 72% in Hull.

Despite limited involvement now there is a growing trend to affiliate with a religious group for life events such as weddings, birth-related events and funerals. Also the vast majority of Canadians believe that God exists and pray privately. There is a hunger for spiritual things and 41% of Ontarians and 57% of Quebecers say that they have experienced God’s presence.

However, the Church is not meeting their needs. The No Religion group is the religious group which grew the most between 1991 and 2001 in Canada and Ottawa-Hull. Most of these people are younger.

Religion of Children
Judeo-Christian religious groups tend to remain dominant in Canada despite intermarrying between religious groups. In the Judeo-Christian family it appears that the mother’s religion is the strongest indicator of the children’s religion

Confidence and Values
• Canadians are more confident in religious leaders than in government leaders. More than half of all Canadians (56%) believe that ministers should be addressing social, economic and political issues, including 51% of those who say they have no religion.

• Top values for Canadians are: freedom, family life, being loved and friendship which can be summarized as freedom and relationships. These are followed by a comfortable life, success and creativity. Religion and spirituality are important to those already involved in religion.

• Canadians' questions about life and death are not being addressed.

• There was little difference by generation in expression of spiritual needs or in the belief that one is spiritual. More than half of Canadians see themselves as spiritual, and a solid majority say they have spiritual needs. Despite this most keep it to themselves. The less often one attends religious services the more likely they are to keep their spirituality to themselves. 60% of yearly attenders and 80% of nevers, keep their spirituality pretty much to themselves as opposed to sharing it outside a religious group.

• There is a stirring among large numbers of people outside the churches who are pursuing answers about life and death and spiritual needs with more openness than at perhaps any time in our nation’s history.
• 3 in 4 Canadians are talking to God at least occasionally. 2 in 4 Canadians think they have actually experienced God’s presence.
• 55% of adults who are currently attending services less than monthly say they would ‘consider the possibility of being more involved in a religious group if they found it to be worthwhile for themselves or their families.’ What would make it worthwhile varies. Here are Bibby’s conclusions at this point although he indicates that more research is required:
o ‘Nones’ may need to be convinced that their needs can be met;
o Catholics that the Church is capable of change, openness and flexibility;
o Mainline Protestants that particular emphasis to the children, partner, and friendship networks will be given.
• ‘All is well on the demand side. It’s the supply side that poses the problem.’ The belief systems and programs offered by churches and other religious groups are simply not connecting with the people who need them or think they might need them at some point in the future.

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