Three stats every church should know about their neighbourhood

Churches can increase their value to the community by learning the age demographics, family structure and mother tongue in their neighbourhood.

This comment was posted on the Outreach Canada site May 27 and seemed likely to be of benefit to many churches in this area; it is re-posted by permission.

XYZ Community Church in Surrey has an average attendance of 145 people. Church leaders recognized the community in which God had placed them has changed over the years. They were asking questions such as…

  • “How do we engage the community around the church?”
  • “What is the demographic make-up of the neighbourhood?”
  • “Where can we get help with understanding the community?”

Someone recommended contacting Outreach Canada Ministries since we have developed resources to help churches better understand the demographics of their neighbourhood.

After a phone conversation to determine what the leadership of the church really wanted, our Outreach Canada Director of Research suggested starting with three stats every church should know about their community.

Stat #1: Age

Age tells us a lot about the people in the surrounding community and provides insight into the various stages of life at the time of the Census.

Knowing the age demographic in your neighbourhood can help you engage the community around your church.

For instance, if there are many children under five years old you might want to think about having a preschool or childcare centre in the church. Another idea would be for the church to host a weekly program for young parents where they could be encouraged and supported. Volunteers could provide a simple childcare program while parents could be less distracted knowing their children are cared for in a safe environment.

If there are elementary school-age children in the neighbourhood and schools close by, you might want to think about a weekly (or more frequent) after-school homework club. Most parents work, so knowing there is a safe, nurturing place is a huge relief. It could have a nominal charge or be free.

If you are running a program for kids, consider how you might be able to support parents as well. Consider having a monthly free babysitting night at the church. Have a family games night where everyone can participate.

How can you support college students, singles, newly married couples, seniors, etc.? Be creative and consider every stage in life.

What is the age demographic of those in your neighbourhood?

Stat #2: Family structure

The Census identifies how many people in the neighbourhood are single (never married), married, separated, divorced and widowed.

Knowing the family structure of those in your community can help your church to serve your neighbourhood.

For instance, if there is a growing number of single parents in the community, what can your church do to help support these families? Provide parenting classes? Mentors?

How about a class for newly married couples?

For those who have recently lost a spouse or a partner (through divorce or death), there could be an opportunity to provide grief counseling and/or support.

Instead of separating families into specific programs, you could also consider providing opportunities for the whole family to participate together in a variety of activities. Examples: Amazing Race, Church Family Picnic, Ice Skating, Summer BBQs, Talent Show, Family Friendly Movie Night, etc.

What do the statistics say about the family structure of those in your neighbourhood?

Stat #3: Mother tongue

Mother tongue is a person’s heart language. It’s the language he/she first learned and can still speak. Many first-generation immigrants default to speaking in their heart language. If there is an established community of people who speak the same language it makes entry into Canada much easier.

Knowing the mother tongue of those in your neighbourhood, can help your church to serve your community.

Consider running a conversational English class to help recent immigrants become more comfortable speaking English or French. Including food is always a good idea. Building relationships with newcomers to Canada can be extremely rewarding. As relationships deepen there is more opportunity to share Christ’s love. The next level would be to invite these newcomers into your home and a church service.

What are the mother tongues represented in your church’s neighbourhood?

Next steps

Maximizing the strengths of the people within your church is key. Learn from churches which have had success in reaching their community. Above all, ask God for discernment, wisdom and a clear pathway to share the love of God with your specific neighbourhood.

How can you find out the age demographics, family structure and mother tongue in your neighbourhood? Outreach Canada can help!

Our Research Department specializes in Community Profiling & Thematic Mapping. We can help you find out information about your community, so that you can be better equipped to minister in the neighbourhood or city God has placed you!

A Community Profile is an in-depth, customized view of a community’s demographic information based on the most updated census information from Statistics Canada. This material is invaluable for ministry planners who want to effectively impact the people living in the neighbourhood around their church.

If you and your church are evaluating current ministries, looking ahead to potential new ministries, wanting to develop a new evangelism strategy or thinking about planting a church, this resource will help your church understand its community and help formulate effective action plans.

Learn more about Community Profiles.

Lorne Hunter with his wife Judy, who also works with Outreach Canada.

Lorne Hunter is Associate Director of Outreach Canada and the Director of Research.

As the Director of Research, he is responsible for tracking places of worship, gathering denominational statistics, generating Community Profiles for churches, creating thematic maps, following demographic trends within Canadian society and identifying church planting needs.

One thing Lorne loves about his role is being able to provide leaders with relevant information to help them make informed decisions and to be better equipped to disciple the nations.

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