Beyond the Welcome: How Canadian Churches are Responding to Canada’s Immigrant Reality

Posted by michael - Posted on 25 May 2011

A collaborative research project conducted by World Vision, The TIM Centre and the Centre for Community Based Research


The research for Beyond the Welcome: Churches Responding to the Immigrant Reality in Canada was carried out collaboratively by World Vision, The Tyndale Intercultural Ministries Centre and the Centre for Community Based Research. An advisory group reflecting a cross section of Christian ministries collaborated in developing the research protocols and reviewing the results.  Through surveys, focus groups, community forums and individual interviews, information was gathered from a spectrum of Christian churches, including those not denominationally aligned. It included churches of varying sizes, ages, and with varying mixes of Canadian-born and immigrant membership. 

Interviews included people who could speak knowledgeably about Canadian churches nationally and inter-denominationally as well as those whose expertise was local.  Focus groups were used to gain ground-level insights about how new immigrants experienced church and provided suggestions about how churches in their city could better include recent immigrants. Two focus groups were conducted in each of Hamilton, Vancouver and Montréal and six were held in Toronto. A teleconference was held in Winnipeg. An online survey targeted the urban churches in the nine cities in Canada that have proportionally the highest immigrant populations. A total of 355 congregations entered the survey. Community forums were held in Vancouver, Hamilton and Toronto to verify research findings.

Three questions were posed in the study:
1. How do recent immigrants experience church in Canada?
2. What has been the response of churches in Canada to recent immigrants?
3. What can churches do to be more welcoming and inclusive?

The study found that Canadian churches are indeed welcoming recent immigrants.  The results of the research also show that churches need to move beyond that initial welcome toward fully integrating families new to Canada into church life.

The full report (BTW_report_long) can be downloaded as a .pdf file and a shorter summary (BTW_report_long).  A report specifically from Toronto respondants is also available.  World Vision has also compiled a resource toolkit that provides suggestions on how to better reach out to and integrate new Canadians into local congregations.  Finally an assessment tool for your congregation is available to evaluate how you are doing in your local context.