Navigating the Post-Christian Landscape:  After Church Atlas 

By Joel Murphy

Sadly, we are seeing more and more church closures across Canada. Church congregations are more than their church buildings, however, the loss of the physical space (church building), which is embedded with memory, meaning, and Holy Spirit moments, represents a significant loss and can be a highly emotional experience. As we think about the demographic trends of aging church population and declining religious involvement, church communities and leaders are being faced with the challenging decision to transition out of their historical physical buildings. 

The After Church Atlas from Memorial University is an interesting resource which is exploring the use of sacred spaces after they close. While the researchers are approaching this from a non-faith perspective, there are some interesting examples of how church buildings are being used. 

Visit it here:https://www.hss.mun.ca/research/showcase/after-church-atlas/ 

The reason for sharing this resource is to learn from the trends and data presented in the Atlas to prompt theological reflection. The demographic data outlined in the Atlas are invaluable for tailoring our evangelism and discipleship efforts. Knowing the specific needs and characteristics of our communities allows us to engage more meaningfully and effectively. By understanding what drives contemporary spiritual seekers, we can develop ministries and outreach programs that resonate more effectively. 

What do these changes mean for church life and practice? How can you navigate this new landscape while staying true to the mission and vision of your church communities? Are there new ways to gather and serve which do not require a physical building? How is our current building serving your congregation and your community?  

Reflecting on these questions can lead to places of hope and faithful responses to the changing world around us. What is the invitation that God has for you as you consider your physical space and location? 

 

 

Reference List 

https://www.hss.mun.ca/research/showcase/after-church-atlas/ 

https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/b169df32c1054cbc81711ce3876ef4b0/page/AC-Atlas-MAIN/ 

https://www.faithcommongood.org/community_spaces_faith_places_survey_results 

https://carleton.ca/panl/tag/church-closures/ 

https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/no-space-for-community-in-ontario-neighbourhoods-new-report-addresses-loss-of-community-infrastructure-due-to-permanent-closure-of-faith-buildings-in-ontario-895830032.html 

https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/it-s-overwhelmingly-painful-theology-professor-shares-insight-on-impact-maritime-church-closures-have-on-some-1.6890702 

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