Interview with Joseph Friedland
Joseph Friedland

After serving for nearly 26 years in the largest english evangelical church in Montreal, Joe and his wife Janet, along with their daughter, transitioned in September 2016 to plant a church in Brossard, a city of 85,000 people, just 15 minutes south of Montreal. Quebec has been called the greatest mission field in the Western world and, like many cities in the province, Brossard has a very small number of protestant evangelical churches. As a family, the Friedlands are privileged to be unlikely people in an overlooked place, doing extraordinary things to ”reach the one”.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I became a Christ-follower from the context of a Jewish background at the age of 20, in the largest English-speaking PAOC church in Quebec. I eventually served there in full-time ministry for over 15 years. I met my wife, Janet, there, got married there, dedicated our daughter, Sarah, there and spent the better part of three decades in that one church. We began to sense God leading us to something different, in our own city of Brossard, about 15 km south of Montreal. That is how our church planting journey began.

What lead you to plant a church?

We developed a burden for our own community and realized there were less than a handful of protestant evangelical churches there. It’s a community of 80,000 people, 16 per cent of them with English as their first language. So the question became: why NOT plant a church right here where we live?

What’s the vision of the church?

We exist to reach the one who is far from God so that, together, we would become passionate followers of Jesus. 

What are some of the challenges unique to Quebec as it relates to church planting?

In Quebec, evangelical Christianity is the minority. Less than one per cent of the population identify with a personal relationship with Jesus as expressed in a protestant evangelical church. Things take a little longer here; there is a general disdain for anything to do with "organized religion" due to Quebec's unique history with the church. Being the minority also tends to produce two reactions on the part of existing churches whenever a new church is planted: excitement or suspicion. We have experienced both of those reactions. 

What are some things your church is doing to engage the community?

Our church began by meeting on Saturday mornings in a movie theater. We did this for almost two years and recently switched to Sunday mornings, which also precipitated a change in location. We have seen that the move to Sundays gave us more consistent attendance and more visitors. We also began to livestream our messages. The livestream is reaching an audience that is engaged in our church but not necessarily physically present every Sunday. 

How’s the health of the church today?

Rather than simply looking at increasing attendance as THE indicator of church health (our average attendance has been consistent over the first two years), we also look at the quality of relationships to try to gauge whether or not the people are actually living like Jesus. We have a long way to go, but it is encouraging to see results in the lives of families and individuals.  

How can we pray?

Pray for people in our church to truly catch the vision to "reach the one" here in the province of Quebec!