An Unreached People in North America

Welcome back.

105 Minutes by air from Detroit.
Six hours by car from New York.

Perched on an island in the Hochelaga Archipelago where the Ottowa flows into the St. Lawrence, stands one of North America’s oldest cities.

Home of great jazz.
City of amazing cuisine.
Land of beautiful summer days.
And centre for the largest unreached people group in North America.

Yes, an unreached people group in North America.

Established in 1642 by the French, this city that bustles with jazz, cuisine and culture remains practically silent when it comes to the gospel. Less than half of one percent of French Canadians tend towards Jesus, the hope of the world.

Less than half of one percent. Out of two hundred — one person follows Christ.

Steve Norman and Beau McCarthy of Genesis the Church in Detroit and I met with Montreal Pastor, Lorenzo DellaForesta of River’s Edge Community Church, and spent an afternoon and evening discovering the city.

Lorenzo, who is most definitely not among the silent, knows what it is to start a church in the midst of an unreached people and see God work. More of his story later.


That’s what I felt as the realization grew that there is within easy reach of the US a significant city (3 million when the universities are in session) with an unreached people group. This throws into a new light our conversation about the mission to reclaim our post Christian western culture.


Some of you know that I’ve been seeking to identify key cities in which to locate the International Mentoring Network. [I started the IMN earlier this year].

  • The Detroit area with Steve Norman and Mike Harris is at the top of the list.
  • The German speaking part of the world [ with my friends Marcus Wagner in Munich; Adaumir Nascente and team in Dusseldorf; and Derek Webster in Zurich ] is also at the top.
  • Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Boston, New York, London and Barcelona all seem to loiter in the top twelve list.

Now that I’ve been to Montreal, I think it may be time to team up with my Canadian friends and lend them a hand in the exciting task of reclaiming an unreached city for Christ. What better context could exist for training future leaders?

What do you think?

into the mystic…

Alex McManus


27 responses to “An Unreached People in North America”

  1. tony sheng Avatar

    Shock and exhiliration are two good ways to put it. I can’t think of a better way to train future leaders that a context like that. One of the lessons I learned this past summer (and I’m still hashing it out) is that the best context for leadership development is cross cultural mission. So much there about flexibility, creativity, a sense of urgency, risk and relevance to the culture – and to take potential leaders through those ideas is exhilirating like nothing else. I’m still hashing it out because your post is the first time I’ve really thought about it like that…

  2. Lori Avatar

    Don’t they speak French there? I am all about that Barcelona plant… what’s the news on the iMosaic thing, eh? Glad to hear you made it back safe and sound!

  3. Alex Avatar

    bonjour Lori,

    oui, ils parlent français à Montréal.

    And about iMosaic…I met with the design team on Labor Day and it’s gonna happen. I’ll be able to report more by mid week. Right now I’m working on a name for the blog community. [“iMosaic” doesn’t work]. Ideas?

  4. Alex Avatar

    Tony, you’re so right. There’s a rawness to things when you’re someplace the gospel is not.

  5. Sam Radford Avatar

    Hi Alex, interesting stuff. It’s amazing hearing that kind of thing in what is regarded as a Christian country. I’m actually based in Sheffield, England which has the lowest church attendence in the country at about 3% (and even much of that would include people who still go coz they always have done). More and more the people I talk with know literally nothing of the Gospel. Amazingly God has been saying a lot of prophetic stuff about Sheffield being a gateway city for what he wants to do in the UK and so I’m excited to be about to embark on a church plant in what is also a largely unreached people group that increasingly represents the nations of the world due to a mixture of large numbers of international students and assylum seekers.

    I’d be interested to know more about your thoughts for the International Mentoring Network with regard London by the way. And did you get my email I sent last week?

  6. Brian Avatar

    hmmm names for the iMosaic blog community…

    Mosaic Village

    I was thinking mosaic voice but there’s a place out there already called that.

    anyway… Just throwing out random thoughts to begin brainstorming…

  7. Mike Harris Avatar

    Alex– we loved having you here in the Detroit area, and will look forward to your return to the motorcity. I’m interested in what’s going on in Montreal. Please include me in your plans.

  8. Alex Avatar


    Yes. I received your email. Hopefully I’ll get around to it this week. How far is Sheffield from London?

  9. Alex Avatar


    Yes. Keep ’em coming. I’m trying to stay away from church names like Mosaic.

    some combo of these

    The parameters are …easy to remember, not too many syllables, easy to spell.

    Also, something that is relational and conversational. keep the ideas coming. I’ll need it soon.

  10. Alex Avatar

    Thanks, Mike.

    I’ll keep you in the loop about any IMN adventures in Montreal.

  11. Sam Radford Avatar

    Thanks Alex…will look forward to hearing from you. Sheffield is about 160 miles from London (2.5 – 3 hour drive / 2 hour train).

  12. Sam Radford Avatar

    As to the name for this Imosaic thing…whats the vision for what you’re wanting to do? One word coming through my head is “Synergy” but they or may not be any good depending on the vision.

  13. Alex Avatar


    iMosaic was the code word I was using for a new blogging community we want to start. “We” there is not Mosaic [the church] but a group of visionary friends across the western world.

    This blogging community will compete with Xanga and Blogger and the like BUT there is also a missional intent to it.

  14. Sam Radford Avatar

    Sounds cool…will see if any name inspiration starts flowing! I’m excited by the idea of church getting into the midst of the cyber world with a missional intent. Love to be involved in whatever way I can / would help.

  15. Greg from Winnipeg Avatar
    Greg from Winnipeg

    Great to hear about your foray into the true north strong and free! I look forward to what will come of the intersection of Mosaic threads in my land.

    BTW, outside of Quebec, guess where the largest francophone (French Canadian) community in Canada resides? That’s right… Winnipeg!

  16. Sally Schilling Avatar
    Sally Schilling

    My concern is by the discussion, attention, energy and focus toward the “trying to identify key cities” that you limit emerging movement. I realize intentionality and transforming definition is important, but I fear we get back to the inclusion – exclusion factor: what does it look like to be part of IMN – if you don’t does that mean you are not part of the movement?

  17. joe kennedy Avatar

    Maybe after New Orleans one day, God will let me go to Montreal. If He doesn’t send me to Amsterdam like I wanted before. Oh the dreams… so much to do, so little time.

    But I’ve always liked the cold over the hot. =)

  18. Alex Avatar


    Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    I think perhaps you’re confusing what can and cannot be limited as well as what personal focus and intentionality actually do [and don’t do].

    In identifying “key cities” we focus our energy and attention. That’s what intentionality does. It helps us focus. There is no amount of personal focus that can limit to any degree what emerges outside of our effort. There’s more going on in the world–others who are also focusing– than what we do.

    This confusion is what leads to the question: “what does it look like to be part of IMN – if you don’t does that mean you are not part of the movement?”

    Of course not. [And I think you know this]. And there’s nothing in having focus and intentionality that would lead anyone to think so.

    In fact, focus somewhere often leads to open doors elsewhere.

    Hope that helps.

  19. Sally Schilling Avatar
    Sally Schilling

    It is not what you are saying or doing that my comments are directed, I think it’s how I perceive your communication to come across… (and sometimes it takes me a few attempts at getting the final thought out of my mind too – sorry 🙂 )

    What I want to do is alert us to what an outsider, one lacking the familiarity with you, me, us, and the movement – might read/see. This is part of the rub of having a “private” (IMN, mystic warriors, imosaic, etc.) discussion in a “public” (international blogging) forum — but it is also what leaders/followers of Christ must live out daily. By our familiarity with one another, if you chose, you can use language like “absurd” to emphasize a thought/point. And because of yours and my established relationship here, through Origins and in Christ, we can continue to pursue discussion in an effort to understand (awesome btw). I don’t think that is true of a newcomer – and certainly not true of people of other temperaments than mine (‘cuz we all know I am not silent). They are left to their own categorical interpretation and understanding.

    Although I don’t necessarily practice this, I think we live in a dichotomous world one of “either or”,”inclusion/exclusion”, “true/false”, world. If you mention one, but not the other, by omission, the other is invalidated. I know that’s not true, and that we really do we have the time or energy to list all the possibilities of inclusionary talk in every post and discussion.

    Also, right now there might be those frustrated souls who God is strengthening and stretching where they are…. And they want to be on your list… And they want to take off to one of those places.. And be part of the action of a movement pulling out of a station so much that they thirst…. and they cannot go or do. (And as I write, I am well aware of my membership in that group). They know they are being prepared for a future role in the kingdom as well as participating fully in one right now, right where they are…. but it’s still agonizing.

    I believe Christ calls us to the “ands” in life – the possibilities (which I KNOW you dream, believe, and act on). So, when we list the identifiying of key places for IMN, as part of my preferred ideal communication, it would include an articulated reminder – in some form – of possibilities for everyone to be on a list somewhere at sometime that invites newcomers and encourages those where God has placed elsewhere in his kingdom advance.

    I am sure I have compounded the discussion.

  20. Sally Schilling Avatar
    Sally Schilling

    * should be: “that we really do NOT have the time or energy to list all the possibilities of inclusionary talk in every post and discussion.”

  21. Alex Avatar


    Point taken.

    I invite you to come with me on my adventures not because yours aren’t important but because we’re all connected. And you never know where our paths may cross.

    It is one of the wonders of this age and this medium of blogging, that we can actually participate with each other as we tell the stories of our travels across the face of the earth, and yet at the same time dedicate to our tasks in whatever city we find ourselves.

    It’s my hope that our stories encourage everyone to follow Him where he leads them. Not everything happens in the strategic centers of the world. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?


    Best to you.

  22. Agent B Avatar

    I’ve been to Montreal. Great town. My wife’s Canadian. We may just join you on this…

  23. niza Avatar

    are we moving again?

  24. Alex Avatar


    I forgot to mention. I’m not opposed to financial support of leaders and I’m not opposed to owning real estate. My search for The Mystic though is reminding me, thouhg, that we don’t need what we think we do and DO need what is most basic.

  25. Steve Norman Avatar


    thanks for including beau and I in your quest to Canada. I’m hoping we can figure out a way for Genesis to get in the mix with Lorenzo.


  26. Phil Bryan Avatar

    First off, thanks for the site. It pushes my mind into arenas that need to be explored.

    In thinking about “unchurched” cities, I find myself struggling with the concept. I once heard the term “unchurched” defined as not having a VIABLE church to attend within 10 miles. That may or may not be an accurate description, but the term viable makes me think. I was raised in Dallas and served in ministry there for 10 years on staff at a rather conservative evangelical church. But I have an ache for those who do not fit into the “normal” church context (probably because I don’t feel I fit myself). God was gracioius enough to start a movement of outsiders right inside this 50-year old bible-belt church and I saw God do things that were far beyond my imagination. I have since moved to Seattle (perhaps the antithesis of Dallas) and I’ve discovered some interesting things.

    First, I see God doing some very cool things in Seattle–a city that is supposedly one of the most unchurched in the U.S. There is a starkness to faith here because it is not nearly so cultural as it is in Dallas. But that leads to my second point. So many times the opinion is that Dallas (and perhaps other Bible-belt cities) need another church like it needs a hole in the head. It was probably this mentality that led me to Seattle. But I honestly believe that there aren’t that many “viable” churches in Dallas. There certainly are a lot of churches, and there are a number of very good ones. But what God showed me in my life there was that there were far more people lurking around that city who would never find a home in a traditional church setting. Unfortunately, the cultural Christianity that dominates the city makes most church leaders unwilling to risk destroying the status quo in order to seek out the misfits.

    It is for this reason that I believe God may be calling me back to Dallas to do just the kind of church that is talked about on this web site. I am so ready to see this happen that I am willing to work the proverbial day job if it means an opportunity to be a part of something true, mystical and transforming…Because “unchurched” and “badly churched” may simply be different shades of the same problem.

  27. Alex Avatar

    you’re welcome, phil. see you in the mystic.

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