Liberal churches in decline while orthodox ones grow, says study of Protestants in Canada


Researchers looked at 22 Protestant churches in Canada

A study of Protestant churches in Canada has found that growing churches tend to be more orthodox, while shrinking ones are theologically liberal.

Terry Mattingly, author of the Get Religion blog, covered the findings of the study, which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal, Review of Religion Research.


I think this trend has been going on for some time.


It probably has to do with the desire and need of some weak-minded people to absolutes in their lives. I’ve known many. They drift to places that claim to have these absolutes because they can’t handle the uncertainties that other religions accept as a reality.


Yeah, that’s probably it:rolleyes:




I wouldn’t necessarily use the words “weak minded”. But I do think some people are more wired to need matters of faith spelled out in black and white. It does provide them with a comfort level. Others prefer and are more comfortable with grey and uncertainty in matters of faith or need on open box in which to breathe.


That’s like my saying people in more liberal denominations are spineless and chestless.


Wouldn’t really make much sense for a busy individual or family to pay money, attend regularly, donate, send their kids, and involve themselves in a cause that the institution itself is uncertain, subjective, ever-changing, the same as non-religious structures, and promotes nothing unique or interesting - does it??

The park at the end of the block at least has a cool slide. And the museum has dinosaurs. What draw does a gelatinous, hours-long, not-sure-of-itself, expensive gathering hold?


It apparently makes sense to those who do attend and contribute to more progressive religious communities.


Declining in numbers though they are.

Like Spinal Tap, their appeal is becoming more selective.


Does it make sense, or is it less about sense and more about feelings?


Nailed it:thumbsup:


My only experience with this is with my wife and her family.

They are members of a United Church of Canada congregation (one of the “liberal” churches mentioned in the linked article).

I can’t say anything knowledgeable about church membership or attendance in general in Canada, but in her town, the United Church is going strong (as are the other churches in town – there’s an Anglican church, a Pentecostal church, and the Salvation Army – a lot of churches for a small town). It’s a great congregation – I’ve attended services there when I’m visiting the in-laws (in Newfoundland). My oldest daughter was christened there.

The congregation definitely lives their faith, to a degree (unfortunately) I haven’t seen in most of the Catholic parishes I’ve been a member of over the years.


I think the same is true in the United States as well. There are some Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Presbyterian congregations that are thriving; however, on the whole, these denominations are quickly disappearing (with the notable exceptions of conservative breakaways, such as the Anglican Church in North America).


Or as the line in a “Man for All Seasons” goes: See here Will. Two years ago you were a loyal Churchman. Now you have fallen in with the Lutherans on account of being persuaded by their logic. I can only hope that when your head stops spinning it is affixed as God intended.


Makes sense I think. But it depends on what one means by ‘liberal’ and ‘orthodox’ as those words to me, just like 'right and ‘left’ when it comes to politics or ‘conservative’ vs ‘liberal’ are all somewhat meaningless terms/labels unless someone defines what they entail.

Generally when someone says they are ‘liberal’ in their faith, given today id guess it means they support same sex marriage and abortion (Generally that is what I have found), and if that’s the case, anyone who reads the Gospels who is not caught up in those sins, will clearly see that they are wrong and that people have crafted a Church to conform with themselves over those issues of today rather than with God on such issues.

Everyone has a tendency to want to do this with whatever sin they are enslaved to (Including ourselves). And a ‘liberal’ Church in the sense I described above will appeal to those kind of people, because otherwise they only have 3 options, join a liberal Church, reject the Church or renounce and work against certain sins.

As those who are in a same sex relationship or who have had an abortion still have a moral sense and acknowledge much of the morality in the Gospels from Christ, they simply try to deny these certain things because they don’t want to deal with it or acknowledge it, in which case, anyone not caught up in those two sins, will see right through it.

And in the long run, I believe this liberalism only works when it is only a select few issues that the congregation can share, but once one starts down this road, it gets wider and wider, and pretty soon when it’s wide enough, it defeats the purpose of a moral law entirely because morality becomes subjective and makes the moral law giver (Christ), and the authority of the Gospels to correct/counsel/guide their neighbors, null and void.

Anyway, someone hostile to the Church, I would probably rather they join a ‘Liberal’ Church over rejecting it entirely, and hopefully the word of God can eventually correct them, not to mention future generations who will have the word of God more available to them, and if they are not caught up in these sins themselves, will come to see through it. There is also the downside that it makes a mockery of the faith for those on the outside (1 book and so many different and contradicting beliefs), but they can always read the Gospels if they want to find out what’s what to a large degree, they may not reach Catholicism necessarily, but they can eliminate a lot of heretical Churches (Except for the ‘gay’ bible they apparently put together, which rids the Bible of any passages referring to homosexuality, lol, I mean that says it all really).

Anyway, just some of my thoughts.

I hope this has helped

God Bless

Thank you for reading


I do wonder how much of that growth in more theologically conservative churches is really due to non-Christians converting and not simply due to movement from liberal ones, a higher birth rate, or immigration. I believe there was a study not too long ago about the religious landscape in America that showed Evangelical churches didn’t decline because of the birth rate.
In any event, I just hope the growing ones will try to utilize some of the historical buildings previously used by the liberal ones. The thought of seeing these buildings become bars or expensive housing isn’t very pleasant.


What does the “nones” situation look like in Canada? Are most who leave “liberal” churches switching to other churches or are they just falling away?


It’s headed in the direction of Western Europe. And America is headed to where Canada is today.
2011 Census:
Honestly, I wouldn’t really take these numbers too seriously or any surveys involving self-identification. It’s meaningless. I’m sure the real number for nones in Canada and the US is more at 60 to 80%. Possibly 80 to 90% in Western Europe. Many nones only use the term ‘Christian’ or any other labels because they treat the question as if it’s asking ancestry or ethnic origin.


Disappearing may be a bit of a stretch. I often wonder how large the Catholic Church would be if it didn’t count every person baptized in the Catholic Church as once Catholic always Catholic.

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