la Capitale in Quebec City or Église Urbaine Axe 21 in Magog.
These evangelical churches are considered successful not only
because of their numbers, but also because of strong reputations,
stability, and strengthening partnerships within and outside the
evangelical community. They have well-tuned Sunday morning
gatherings, a diversity of social services offered to the community, good marketing and viable, long-term resources.
They are here to Stay
The success of the large church model in secular Quebec
may surprise some, but not Pierre Bergeron, Quebec director
for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “I don’t think we
should opt for one all-encompassing model. People are differ-
ent and will be attracted to different types of churches,” says
Bergeron. “The spirit of God will move through a variety of
movements and styles and gatherings.”
He is acutely aware of the challenges facing the broader
evangelical Church in Quebec. “Jean-Sébastien’s [Morin’s]
diagnosis is accurate,” he says. “Most denominations right
now are in a shortage of leadership, and I am especially
concerned for small churches outside of urban centers. I
am also concerned that we don’t have enough pastors in the
35–50-year-old age bracket,” says Bergeron, “which means
we are headed towards a dangerous gap in between the retir-
ees and the up-and-coming generation of pastors, who are all
about 20–25 years old. They’re very young.”
Observers point to the especially difficult time the evan-
gelical Church experienced in the early 1990s in Quebec. The
réveil was over. The church in Quebec keenly felt the impact
of being a minority. Church growth slowed, and so did the
amount of future leaders heading into ministry.
If there is one thing Evangelicals agree on in Quebec, it’s
not easy to lead.
“We treat our pastors the same way we treat our polit-
icians,” says Morin. “At the first sign of dissatisfaction we vote
them out. We are divisive. I would be willing to bet that most
francophone churches in this province have lived some form
[of] division in the last 30 years.”
Bergeron concurs. “It’s a leftover from the Quiet Revolu-
tion. We don’t like being told what to do because we have a
iwas born in rouiba, Algeria. I immigrated to Canada – to Calgary – when I was eight. Later on, at 16, I did something that changed the course of my destiny – I gave my life to
When I neared the end of my
high school year, I felt God calling
me to Quebec. I carried a fairy tale-like perception of what Montreal
would be like.
I did not foresee the reality that
I quickly realized that the real-
ity of being a Christian in Quebec
was, by far, very different from in
Alberta. In the beginning I was not
well read on the meaning of the word “denomination.” It had
never occurred to me what that meant. Very often individuals
tried to box and classify my belief in Jesus. I think Christian-
ity is very fragmented here, and surprisingly not just in the
eyes of the secular, but in Christians alike.
There is a need to know what kind of Christian you are
however, the biggest shock for me was my exposure to
the Arab population that I was for the most part isolated from
The culture shock I lived through in Quebec deepened my
understanding of who I was and where I was prior to Canada.
I reconnected with my roots in a way I know I would never
have been able to if I stayed in Calgary.
I also realized there is an estrangement present when
you happen to be Algerian as well as Christian like me.
When non-Christian members of the Arab community learn
my father is Muslim, but that I have chosen a different path,
In the summer of 2012 I was taking a class and on the first
day, because the group was relatively small, the professor
decided to have the class undergo a round of introduction.
By the end, those who were listening and watching knew I
was originally from Algeria and might have noticed the cross
dangling off my neck.
Sure enough, someone had not only noticed and listened,
but decided to take action. The next week I was approached
by an Algerian classmate. he didn’t find it appropriate that I
was a Christian because of my Arab heritage, and had DVD
material as well as books on Islam with the goal of rehabilitating me. he was aggressive and would follow me to the
subway after class, promoting Islam. I felt disrespected
and panicked. After sharing my situation with my pastor,
three men from my church were sent to drive me home from
school and to address the situation.
Shortly after, the problem was solved. I was never approached again.
Though being in Montreal has felt at times like being on a
roller coaster, I have to say that these experiences, among
many others, have deepened my understanding of God’s
love and provision at the most desperate of times.
My church, The Living room, has been an amazing source
of support through almost every season of my Christian
walk. They have provided me with unmatchable grace and
love that can only stem from a spiritual family. I couldn’t be
more honoured to be walking alongside some of the most
amazing people I know as I march forward, expectant for the
next door to open. FT
igNES ZiNa OuKil is majoring in communications and
political science at Université de Montréal.
What it’s like to Be an Evangelical in Quebec
By Ignes Zina Oukil
ignes Zina Oukil