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Creative training prepares workers for Quebec mission field

Many Canadians have visited Quebec to enjoy its ski hills or to savour the European charm of Old Quebec City. On the surface Quebec is known for a people who savour the fun side of life, but only 0.5 per cent of the population knows Jesus Christ as their greatest joy.

For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church, played a huge role shaping Quebec, particularly in the areas of education and health care. However, the Quiet Revolution—the label given to the province’s social changes beginning in the 1960s—transformed Quebec’s spiritual landscape and led to the near extinction of Christianity in the province.

This diminished Christian influence created a spiritual vacuum and Quebec is now dealing with a number of disturbing social trends. Statistics Canada figures show the province has the highest percentages for divorce, abortion, couples living together outside marriage, and out-of-wedlock births in Canada. Quebec’s suicide rate ranks not only as the highest in Canada but also as one of the highest in the industrialized world.

After years of secularization, many consider those living in Quebec the largest unreached people group in North America. However, it is only recently that those outside of the province have started to think of Quebec as a mission field.

The time is right for evangelical seminaries in Quebec to play an important role. Seminaries in Quebec cannot merely replicate how seminaries operate in other parts of North America. They must seek to intentionally develop programs that will serve the advancement of the gospel within Quebec.

Church planting is a huge need in Quebec. Many of those living in Quebec want nothing to do with Jesus. Seminary graduates passionate about serving Christ need a vision for starting churches in these hard places; they need a holy discontentment with the status quo and a willingness to give everything to reach those around them with the gospel.

Effective seminaries train men and women who love the Church and want to share the gospel.

One seminary that is working intentionally to reach Quebec with the gospel is SEMBEQ—The Evangelical Baptist Seminary of Quebec. The Montreal-based seminary was founded in 1973 in response to a lack of formal training for church leaders. It is not a residential seminary, but one that works directly in and through local French Baptist churches, helping them train up pastors, evangelists, church planters, teachers and leaders from within their own congregations. Since its founding SEMBEQ’s main goal has been church-based training. This model has been very effective, with 85 per cent of its graduates are currently serving in ministry.

Quebec seminaries can also help address a significant lack of French theological resources.

Along with training pastors, seminaries in Quebec need to work intentionally to train theologians who will be able to write and publish books. In Quebec, the majority of seminary-level courses require reading in English; when the books are available in French they are usually translations.

French publishers like Editions Cruciforme and Editions Impact are working hard to increase the number of quality resources published in French. In the upcoming years, seminaries in Quebec will be pivotal in training men and women who will be able to expound theological truths and decrease the number of translated works.

Quebec needs the gospel; every day Quebeckers die without faith in Jesus Christ, many without even hearing the good news of the gospel. There is an urgency to our mission of telling them about Jesus, of training men and women to lead churches where the good news can be shared.

Pray for the advancement of the gospel in Quebec. Pray for the seminaries, professors and students. The mission is people meeting Jesus, and seminaries have an important role to play.

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About the author

Special to ChristianWeek

Daniel Henderson is director of development for The Evangelical Baptist Seminary of Quebec. Originally from Mississauga, Ontario he has served in Gatineau, Quebec with his wife, Judith, and his two Children, Isabella and Martin since 2009.

About the author