Postdoctoral Researcher/Funded Research Fellow Canadian Institute for Empirical Church Research (CIECR) Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

Postdoctoral Researcher/Funded Research Fellow 

Canadian Institute for Empirical Church Research (CIECR) 

Wycliffe College, University of Toronto 

Bending the Curve: How churches move from “Good to Great” 

The Failure Curve: An investigation of death and recovery in Canadian churches 

Birth Plan: Canadian church planting in a fragmented moment 

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for three, full-time, one-year Postdoctoral or Research Fellow positions at the Canadian Institute for Empirical Church Research (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto). These funded positions are sponsored by the Lilly Foundation as part of their Pathways for Tomorrow Phase 2 grants and begin in January 2024. 

CIECR seeks to expand, link, and amplify a rich history of Canadian church research that is sometimes limited by scarce human, institutional, and technological resources. Sam Reimer explains in his 2023 monograph, Caught in the Current, that Canadian churches are situated within a complex cultural mélange of local, national, and international influences. As a centrepiece of its work, CIECR has developed a comprehensive data model that highlights many of these cultural markers. Our digital repository includes three decades of reconciled data collected by the Canadian Revenue Agency from nearly 85,000 charities. This collection has been linked to University of Toronto’s expansive and enriched Canadian census and economic databases, along with other datasets provided by denominations and independent researchers. The institute will not only share this vast reservoir of data with academics and church leaders, but it will provide access to analytical tools, including AI supported processing and dynamic visualization, that will augment traditional church research and foster informed decision-making in church leadership. Our three selected fellows will participate in supporting the Canadian church by each helming one of three studies, focusing on the seismic impact of secularization on congregations and denominations (as noted in Thiessen, 2016). The three funded studies – Bending the Curve: How churches move from “Good to Great,” The Failure Curve: An investigation of death and recovery in Canadian churches, and Birth Plan: Canadian church planting in a fragmented moment – will draw from our data repository and be conducted throughout 2024. Overseeing research fellows will receive ongoing support from CIECR staff and resources.     

Job Description:  

The successful candidate will:  

  • Expand their expertise in key aspects of charitable/church work in Canada and mixed method empirical research.
  • Collect and assess meaningful quantitative and qualitative data related to their project.
  • Draw from project-pertinent facets of CIECR’s data repository.
  • Enhance and showcase their digital, networking and dissemination skills.
  • Demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and collaborative working practices. 
  • Author/co-author research outputs for peer-reviewed and public-facing publications. 
  • Present their findings to scholars and church leaders (e. educated non-experts).


  • Develop and implement a clear empirical plan for investigating their project (80% of their time; ideally this is a full-time position, but alternative arrangements may be considered).
  • According to skillset, support other CIECR projects and disseminations (20% of their time).
  • Meet bi-weekly with the director or associate director and weekly with the entire team.
  • Produce regular, in-house, and public-facing updates about their research journey and discoveries.
  • Produce written and oral reports, in versions suitable for academic publication, church leaders, and congregants; includes a final publication of the study upon completion.
  • Serve as ambassadors for CIECR at conferences, symposia, etc.
  • Occasionally engage in meetings and shared activities with Wycliffe College faculty, staff, and students. 

Qualifications/Skills required: 

Essential Requirements:   

  • Doctoral level degree (or successful defended before January 2024).
  • Significant experience conducting quantitative and/or qualitative research.
  • Research-led publication output (or immediate plan for publication). 
  • Significant knowledge of/experience working with church or parachurch ministries.
  • Strong interpersonal capacity, collaborative working ethos, and the ability to develop new skills as needed.
  • Passion for the well-being of the Canadian church and its mission. 

Desirable Requirements:  

  • Communication and marketing experience, especially digital skills. 
  • Strong academic writing skills.
  • Ability to communicate successfully with trained and untrained audiences.
  • Theological or ecumenical fluency.
  • Close enough proximity to Wycliffe to meet semiregularly (in-person) with the team.

Salary: $45,000 per annum + benefits, pro-rated for shorter and/or part-time contracts.
Start date: Position to commence between January 1, 2024, and June 01, 2024.

To Apply:  Applications should include a cover letter (include which project interests you, your ‘fit’ for the project and with CIECR more broadly, and your anticipated availability), CV, and the contact details of three referees. Please e-mail these documents to Dr Scott Mealey (

Please include Application for CIECR Postdoc/Fellow in the subject line of the email application. Additional enquiries concerning the post may be made to

Closing date for receipt of applications is October 31, 2023.  

Interviews are planned to be held mid-November 2023.  

We reserve the right to re-advertise or extend the closing date for this post.  

Wycliffe College is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences. For further information about Wycliffe College (