I am a Canadian. I grew up in a great church that I always called evangelical because it was active in helping its people share their faith. It aligned itself with the edge of Protestantism that places a personal relationship with Jesus as a priority. There is a part of me that has always seen the church as bigger than just the building and place I was in. Involvement in camps and a para-church organization in those years helped me to appreciate the universal church – the one that exists around the world.
I am a Canadian. As I look at some of the discussions around the emerging church, and mega churches and philosophies of ministry and such, I am reminded of some differences between the American Church and my experiences in the true north (strong and free). Evangelicalism is much more political south of the border. Though we may have Christians in the political realm we are not considered a “Christian nation” and our desire to keep a specific faith out of governmental life is much more prominent and acceptable than the US. The American disenchantment with church (the structure has become the end in and of itself, rather thean the means to an end) is not the Canadian experience. We have our churches that are more social clubs than anything. We have our health and wealth churches where the ultimate pyramid scheme allows the pastor at the top to attain much fortune; but the “evangelical” church for the most part understands its mission to fulfill the great commission. We have more issues in being a pluralistic society – like Israel entering the promised land and not being synchratistic (absorbing other faiths into their own so they ended up with a spiritual blend of many faiths).
We are Canadians. We like our hockey and Grey Cup (though not as rah! rah! rah! as those to the south – Go! Riders! Go!) but we are not so keen on megachurches – 300-500 max is what most Canadians are comfortable in (and our biggest church is a multi-site church so it is still a collection of smaller “churches” – http://www.themeetinghouse.ca/).
All this is to say that we as Canadians in the church are emerging from a different place than our American brothers and sisters are. Our discussions and understanding of certain words will come from a slightly different perspective. Our churches look different. Our reactions are to different things, and we react in different ways. We are a lot more skeptical of leaders (maybe that is why we never grow too big). We don’t like to buck the status quo, and God seems to be doing something in the church, from the inside out.
Relationships have always been at the heart of true ministry, always will be; and Grace is more important than we will ever understand.