As the St. Lawrence River flows by Montreal on its way to the Atlantic, cars tream intoa parking lot in an industrial area on the South Shore of Montreal
near the Jacques Cartier Bridge. It’s Sunday morning.
People enter through the doors of a
warehouse-sized building into a lobby
teeming with a multicultural crowd.
Music from the large auditorium filters
through the walls. Inside, approximately
2,000 worshipers stand expectant, facing
a 100-foot stage. There is a buzz in the air.
Massive video screens display images of
the people in the crowd.
QUEBEC’S VERY OWN HUGE
AND GLOBAL CHURCH
As David beats Goliath
The band starts and the worship leader
exhorts the crowd to lift up their hands.
Thirty minutes later pastor Claude Houde
takes the stage. He prays for the message
he’s about to deliver and ends in a loud
“Amen?!” Over the next hour Houde
methodically unpacks 1 Samuel 17 as part
of an eight-part series “David, C’est Moi”
(David, That’s Me). Houde draws a paral-
lel between David beating Goliath with a
small stone and a Quebec-based evangel-
ical church overcoming the odds to be-
come the largest church in la Franco-
phonie, the French-speaking world. He
ends with application, or “takeaways” as
they call them here, living up to the motto
of Nouvelle Vie – “a church for today.”
L’Église Nouvelle Vie (NV) has been
making waves in French Quebec for
some time now. With an American mega-
church vibe and enthusiastic supporters,
NV bucks the current trend in Quebec
and much of the Western World – it’s a
church that’s growing, not closing.
But NV’s impact extends even farther
– to the entire French-speaking world. Part
of the appeal to the broader French com-
munity, say those who come here, is the lead
pastor himself, originally called as a young
man from the back of an urban Montreal
church by a preacher who proclaimed he
would “do great things for the Lord.”
Isabelle Depelteau is a longtime NV
member. “Houde is able to bridge the
cultural gaps not only because of his
teaching skills, but because he has under-
stood how to be and remain relevant using
current affairs and trends to convey uni-
versal truths,” she says.
From local outreach to global stretch
The church’s beginnings are a far cry from
its current worldwide high-profile status.
The original 40 members in the early ’80s
wanted to create a church that would help
poor families on the South Shore. The
simple outreach attracted so many people
Nouvelle Vie bucks the
trends and stretches
around the world
BY DAVID GOSSELIN