Understanding Growth: The Roles of Evangelism and a Church's Identity in Determining whether Newcomers are Invited to Belong

  • Author / Creator
    John Alfred Steele
  • The admission of children to communion on baptism without confirmation introduced a debate about how to define membership in the Anglican Church of Canada. Declining membership raised concerns around attracting new members. Using a Grounded Theory approach the researcher interviewed individuals from three numerically growing Anglican Church of Canada parishes. The purpose of the interviews was to determine their understandings of parish identity, evangelism, membership and belonging. Analysis of the recorded and transcribed responses from the Rector, one long term member and two newcomers included identification of key words, repeated phrases and common themes. Respondents did not identify belonging to the Anglican Church nor the Body of Christ when referring to membership. The only criteria for belonging and membership were attendance and participation. In contrast to the normative method of group endorsement that churches use to define membership respondents understood membership to be through self-definition. The paper concludes that growth was unrelated to evangelism. Identity in general affected the way parishes understood people to belong but it was the negative attitude to evangelism which had the greatest impact on their understanding of belonging and invitation to belong.

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  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Ministry
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  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Rev. Dr. Wally Fry
    • Rev. Dr. Logan McMenamie
    • Dr. Kim Murray