The community believes they may succeed in bypassing
the reactions, stupour and aversions so many Quebecois seem
to feel toward organized religion. They view themselves on a
“Relationships come first,” says Nadeau. “I feel that right now
the larger evangelical movement is blinded by numbers. I’m a
little sick of that. I think it would be more important to have a
Church that is stripped of arrogance, but just wants to love its
people.” They are trying, he says, to “create a church that reflects
our identity as Quebecois, one that rejoices in our culture – this
is what I would love in the future – to have a church that fully
basks in being both Quebecois and Christian. A Church that is
recognized for what it stands for, not for what it stands against.”
The Only Evangelical in the class
Noémie Jean-Bourgeault, 27, is a professional artist and second-
generation Evangelical. She remembers being the only one
among her classmates who wasn’t Catholic. “It was a bit strange”
she says. “I wasn’t baptized and wasn’t confirmed like so many
other kids, and yet I was the only one of my friends who went
to church on Sundays!”
Jean-Bourgeault joined Youth With a Mission Quebec when
she was 18 and has been on staff ever since. “I was raised in the
Church, but I had to leave Quebec to discover my faith. I was in
England when I really began learning and thinking about the
Kingdom of God. There is so very little written on the subject in
French!” she remembers.
“What I love about Kingdom theology is that it is inclusive
– it looks for the glorify-
ing of God in every sphere
of life. In the evangelical
faith I was raised in, every-
thing was about salvation.
You’re in or you’re out. But
with the Kingdom, I could
finally begin to reconcile
my life and identity as a
Quebecoise with my faith.”
trends in Quebec come
and go. “I know there are
wonderful people and
wonderful things hap-
pening in churches,” she
sighs. “But the strategies of
numbers strike me as mis-
sing the point. I have also met a number of church leaders and
planters that don’t seem to love Quebec. Like they’re here out
of obligation. Ministry has to be motivated by love.”
She fears some evangelical attitudes in Quebec may cause
more harm than good by discounting the uniqueness of Quebec
culture and the long-lasting impact of a painful Church history.
“You can’t come to a people saying Jesus saves and not take
into account their religious heritage, their history, values and
the collective wounds of the people. Our roots are very import-
Jean-Sébastien Morin says
that most denominations
right now are in a shortage
Thepercentage of Evangelicals in Quebec is very low – probably less than one per cent of the population con- sider themselves born-again Christians. It’s a mission
field. As soon as you cross the border, you see a big difference.
I happened to be in ottawa last week for a concert and
just to see Christian radio and posters, it’s a different world.
You just don’t see that in Quebec.
A lot of people in Quebec just don’t know what an evangelical church is.
It’s a different approach. If you go into the States or the
rest of Canada, if you speak about the church, about God
and about the Bible, people know what you are talking about.
They have a background of going to church when they were
young, or of their family going to church.
As for Quebec we start from before that, especially when
we do a special event with visitors and new people. We start
by thinking they have to be touched first, then they have to
become Christians, then disciples. We start a step back than
if we were elsewhere in Canada.
We start by explaining to them what an evangelical church
is before even starting talking about the Bible and Jesus.
once a month we have a special Sunday morning espe-
cially for new people. We start by explaining what our church
is doing in the community by things like helping the poor.
Then we start opening the Bible. But even that is very touchy,
because here in Quebec you have to separate your com-
munity work from your church. our community work is done
under a separate entity.
We as a church decided not to get involved in the Charter
of Values discussion. We don’t know all the details. Sometimes in those kinds of situations we just can’t win. If we take
a position or say something, it’s not that easy. We’re 3000
people in our church, so in our midst you can have pro-Char-ter and anti-Charter.
It’s politics in a sense. We try to stay away from that.
The most important thing for Christians in other parts of
Canada to know about being an Evangelical in Quebec is that
this province is different from the rest of Canada. It’s a mission field. I know there are a lot of Christians across Canada
who have a heart for Quebec, and for french people.
Sometimes they want to help. The best way to help people
in Quebec is to get connected to a church there. And work
with them. Sometimes we’ve seen money be thrown here and
there with good heart and good motive, but sometimes not
with a plan. or people coming here and trying to plant a church
with a different language and a different culture. our church
works with haiti, but we trust the locals there. They know their
people and their country. FT
JOcEl YN OliviEr is associate pastor of Nouvelle Vie,
a large evangelical congregation in Longueil,
on the southeast edge of Montreal.
What it’s like to Be an Evangelical in Quebec
By Jocelyn Olivier