“Religion’s future in Canada is not in question,” opened sociologist Reginald Bibby at his World and Our Calling lecture, “but Canada’s religious landscape is certainly changing.”
Canadian sociologist Reginald Bibby gave this year’s World and Our Calling lecture: “The Future of Religion in Canada: What’s Needed from Christian Leaders.” The World and Our Calling lecture series explores different facets of the calling that all Christians have to be engaged with our culture. The goal is to present lectures that will enable students and others to know better and to relish the beauty of the cultural world as it can be known in relation to the redemptive presence of Jesus Christ. Last year’s World and Our Calling lecturer was Andy Crouch, who spoke on Christian’s calling to be culture-makers.
Dr. Bibby spoke on a paradox: religion has a bright future in Canada, but the same cannot be said for all of today’s religious groups. Leaders who embody and inspire Christian commitment with clarity and creativity will determine the role of Christianity in the country’s future landscape.
“Canadians may not be looking for churches, but they are looking for ministry. They are looking for communities that care deeply about them and that take the time to hear their stories. Religion continues to be important to Canadians, but we may need to move beyond measuring our success in terms of attendance on Sundays,” Dr. Bibby said.
Great ministry will shape the future of religion, and that’s where emerging leaders, like Redeemer students, come in, Dr. Bibby enthused. “Future leaders need unlimited imagination. I love when students don’t just come off the thought assembly line, but can come up with something when the unexpected is thrown their way. We need people who can think good thoughts, not just memorize or regurgitate or be mired in old paradigms.”
Dr. Bibby continued to encourage Redeemer students: “We need energy and enthusiasm. We need leaders who may at times be perplexed, but not unto despair. In the words of one of my students, ‘I’m scared but pumped… bring it on.’”
Beyond his World and Our Calling lecture, Dr. Bibby also offered insight to church leaders at the Ministry Conference, shared reflections at chapel, met with faculty and visited several classes. Dr. Bibby has been gathering pioneering and historic data on religion and youth for the past four decades.
Dr. Bibby holds the Board of Governor’s Research Chair in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lethbridge. His most recent book is A New Day: The Resilience & Restructuring of Religion in Canada. He is currently working on a book exploring what life in Canada will look like in 2050 and beyond.