© 2019 by Joel Thiessen. All rights reserved.

Current Research

My current research cuts in three distinct yet broadly related directions: flourishing congregations in Canada, religious nones in North America, and millennials in Canada.

Flourishing Congregations in Canada

This ongoing research with Dr. Arch Wong (Ambrose University), Dr. Bill McAlpine (Ambrose University), and Dr. Keith Walker (University of Saskatchewan) is connected to the Flourishing Congregations Institute. Drawing on an appreciative inquiry approach, our central aim is to define and understand what flourishing congregations look like in a uniquely Canadian context and how local congregations from various traditions may move towards and maintain a flourishing ethos. Our first substantive study - three years in length - draws on interviews and focus groups with church and denominational leaders in five Canadian regions (phase one), a national survey with church leaders and congregants (phase two), and in-depth case studies with some congregations (phase three).

None of the Above: Nonreligious Identity in the U.S and Canada

Someone saying they have “no religion” when asked their religious affiliation has become an increasingly common phenomenon in recent decades in both the USA and Canada, with religious nones now forming substantial portions of the North American population. Yet, we know little when it comes to this demographic’s reasons for not identifying with a religious group or tradition, their personal spiritualities or forms of secularity, their feelings towards more religious individuals and their socio-political attitudes and behaviours. Using key survey and in-depth interview data from a number of sources, Dr. Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme (University of Waterloo) and I are working on a book (under contract with New York University Press in their Secular Studies series) that explores the dynamics of being a religious none in contemporary North America and how this non-religious identity impacts other aspects of daily and social life. In so doing, we give special attention to similarities and differences between religious nones in the USA and Canada, accounting for the distinct historical, cultural, and religious landscapes in each nation. We anticipate this book will be out in print in early 2020.

The Millennial Mosaic: How Pluralism and Choice are Shaping Canadian Youth and the Future of Canada

In collaboration with Dr. Reginald Bibby (University of Lethbridge) and Dr. Monetta Bailey (Ambrose University), this book draws on data from a national 2015 Religion Survey as well as a new national Social Trends Survey completed in late 2016 to provide an updated reading on Canadian youth. Below are select media-releases with data from this book.

August 8, 2019 Book Press Release

August 19, 2019 Release - Why Millennials are an Upgrade

September 3, 2019 Release - Millennials Continue to Dream

September 10, 2019 Release - Mosaic Minds of Millennials

November 4, 2019 Release - Cohort Concerns

Nonreligion in a Complex Future

Beginning in late 2019, I'm part of a 7 year study with an international research team that will explore the role and place of nonreligion in diverse social contexts around the world, including in Canada. Stay tuned for more updates and ways to connect to this research.

JOEL THIESSEN, PhD
sociologist