Dr. Reginald Bibby speaks at Be Inspired ministry conference
A surprising place to receive a message of hope
2 min. read
March 3, 2015

Redeemer welcomed world renowned sociologist Dr. Reginald Bibby as keynote speaker for Be Inspired, its annual conference for those in pastoral ministry. To an audience of people whose Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and Righteousness, he presented a message of hope for the future of faith and religion in Canada. Those present were treated to a strong reminder of God’s promises and faithfulness to his people in a perhaps surprising way – through the lens of science, in a comprehensive presentation of data. Bibby spoke to a diverse group — more than 130 people, from over 15 different denominations and more than 60 different churches and organizations. In his morning session, titled Seeing More Clearly, Bibby discussed the state of religion in Canada. He began by suggesting there is still an “old story” being told — the perception of an overall demise of religion in Canada. However, based on the data that he has mined, he is convinced there is a new story that needs to be told. Bibby stated that we now know the picture of secularization was a bit of an exaggeration. In fact, he said, there is a growing core of people attending religious services in Canada. Religious persistence is unmistakable, according to Bibby’s findings. He suggests that rather than secularization, we are looking at a polarization continuum when we look at Canada and the numbers of Canadians who continue to value faith. In the afternoon session, Responding More Effectively, Bibby identified some of the implications of these findings for ministry. He talked of the need to recognize that people are not necessarily looking for churches – they are looking for ministry. His findings suggest three things: It is time for a change in mindset, to recognize there is a growing core of faith holders in this country. It is time to do a better job of effective ministry, to minister well to both insiders and those on the margins, and to be prepared for immigrants who are the growing demographic in this country. There is a greater need for imagination and creativity. Canadians are open to participating more regularly in meaningful ministry. It’s a question of identifying what that looks like. Bibby concluded by stating that these are fascinating times. “We don’t have to fear for the future of religion,” he pointed out. “It’s not going away. But the dominant players are changing. What remains to be seen is the way in which the country’s groups will respond.”

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