Shrinking Church The Demographic Shift
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6. Shrinking Church

Demographic Shift

What could change this outcome? Is it possible to re-gear our present shrinking Church life to meet this challenge? With a concentrated effort, as was experienced in Toronto East Deanery some years ago, parishes can flourish. Evangelism Committees in each of the twelve churches that I engaged with planned and developed new projects for development. After two years, it was the only deanery in the whole diocese to have a thriving youth ministry and an active Sunday school in every parish. This kind of development takes a significant change in mindset, which is very difficult to achieve, especially in most family-size Parish Churches led by dominant matriarchs and patriarchs. In pastoral and program parishes, the clergy has a greater opportunity to effect change, but even this is not easy, especially in the long term.

Internal Spiritual Reformation

Internal spiritual reformation is needed to renew the Mainline churches from the inside out. Two internal possibilities could counterbalance the effects of the demographic shift. First, our Churches could purpose an internal spiritual reformation of its principles and practice entailing the rediscovery of the church as the body of Christ and the Bible as the Word of God. Such a move could have a profound effect on our future because it would transform how we do corporate ministry today. In many respects, our church has slipped from its formative purity. Being already immersed in a secular culture makes it difficult for many of us to see this. The answer is an internal spiritual reformation.

Revival?

Another internal possibility is that "revival," which is a work of God, could transform ordinary Christians' spiritual lives and attitudes and empower us individually for ministry. Instead of doing church as we do business, Christian people would be led by God, the Holy Spirit. Repentance and spiritual awakening would be the first things we would desire. This new spirituality would meet the needs of the Boomers, Generation X'ers, and Millenials who crave with all their hearts spiritual meaning. We could be the medium that God wants to use, but first, we must experience spiritual reformation and the indwelling personal Jesus for ourselves.

Demographic Casualties

Demographic casualties from the shift could have a significant effect on the baby boom generation. One other internal effect could produce a mass return to the church. A major land-based war with significant Canadian casualties or a major catastrophe of some kind could cause a large increase in church membership, similar to the boom in attendance after World War II. It is highly unlikely, however, that in Canada, our new breed of public relations-conscious Boomer politicians could stomach this or would allow this eventuality to happen. Secular societies have no stomach for war.

After the Shift

Only the very best parishes will survive the Demographic Shift in 2019. There will be few medium-size churches for large Anglican churches not found in Toronto Diocese apart from the evangelical Chinese Churches with their own Bishop. There will be many small and family-sized churches closed, especially in the rural areas and in the suburbs. The staunchly conservative and charismatic churches that are left will probably do better as the Millenniums seem to be more attracted to them. 96 parishes will be left and approximately 133 members of the clergy.

List of Surviving Churches

Surviving Parishes

Surviving parishes will have a hard time maintaining their buildings without the wealthy elders who used to populate many churches. The Millenniums, if they come, have little in the way of extra resources to give, and many churches have little or no savings to use.

Parishes and Clusters 2018 AD

"Shrinking Church"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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