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Joel Thiessen, PhD

Professor, Sociology
Chair, Social Sciences
Director, Flourishing Congregations Institute
Phone number
(403) 407-9442
Email Address


I am a sociologist of religion who specializes in congregations, religious nones, millennials, and religion in Canada. I am also Director of the Flourishing Congregations Institute. Since joining the Ambrose faculty in 2008, I have (co)authored five books and countless articles, plus I’m regularly invited to share my research inside and outside the academy. I play the drums, devote too much time to watching and playing sports, and enjoy traveling with my wife.

Current Research

I am currently involved with several collaborative writing and data collection projects – national and international – on the following topics: flourishing congregations; faith transmission across generations; (non)religion and death; mental health and congregations; spiritual yearning and the problem of spiritual alienation; and public religious controversies and remaining in or leaving religious groups. Below is a select list of my (co)authored books. For a more exhaustive list of my publications and media appearances, or to make a speaking/consulting request, please visit my personal website at


McAlpine, Bill, Joel Thiessen, Keith Walker, and Arch Wong. 2021. Signs of Life: Catholic, Mainline, and Conservative Protestant Congregations in Canada. Toronto, ON: Tyndale Academic Publishing.

Thiessen, Joel and Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme. 2020. None of the Above: Nonreligious Identity in the US and Canada. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Bibby, Reginald, Joel Thiessen, and Monetta Bailey. 2019. The Millennial Mosaic: How Pluralism and Choice Are Shaping Canadian Youth and The Future of Canada. Toronto, ON: Dundurn Press.

Thiessen, Joel. 2015. The Meaning of Sunday: The Practice of Belief in a Secular Age. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Dawson, Lorne L. and Joel Thiessen. 2014. The Sociology of Religion: A Canadian Perspective. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.


PhD (University of Waterloo)
MA (University of Waterloo)
BA (Nazarene University College)