When Tony Silveira's family arrived in Montreal in 2006, the Portuguese native was not naive. After starting churches in Toronto for 12 years and assisting with efforts in Montreal, he knew challenges existed in cities where there was an apparent resistance to religion.
A city that he now says is against religion was once nicknamed "the city of 100 bell towers," evidenced by the presence of so many churches. Many were extraordinary cathedrals, some nearly 200 years old, with exquisite architecture. Today, most are empty on Sundays. Many of those bell-tower buildings are now tourist attractions.
Local governments have zoning laws that make locating churches on a main thoroughfare virtually impossible, which calls for creativity.
Montreal's regional population of more than 5 million people (with the core city occupying an island, much like Manhattan) is bounded on the south by the St. Lawrence River. The South Shore community where Silveira is church planting has about 1.5 million residents.
While permits for churches in high-traffic areas are impractical, municipalities are anxious for commerce. Silveira found prime real estate that has an estimated 100,000 cars passing every day and started The Studio, a convention center venue for business seminars and meetings -- and churches.
"It looks more like a Starbucks than a church," Silveira said. "It's cozy -- not too big."
Creating a business center aligned with Silveira's objective to reach marketplace leaders and university students. Besides community and business events, the venue now hosts six churches, three of which he started. This allows the Studio to double as a multi-congregational site, where each church pays rent to make the location viable.
Tony Silveira brought 30 years of church planting experience to Montreal from his work in Europe, Africa and Toronto.
Tony is an International Evangelist having preached the Gospel in different countries across 5 continents.
Passion Canada is the umbrella organization under which Silveira plants churches and mentors others. With The Studio, he's created a reproducible model.
Tony preaches at the 10 a.m. English multi-cultural service called Passion Centre. Then at 6:30 p.m., an English service called WeR1 (We Are One) has mostly youth and young adults.
Tony defines himself as an Accidental Missionary, entrepreneur and Life Coach. In his incredibly practical self-help book "Power to Win", Tony points some easy to apply principles to help addicts and their families to break free from bad habits.
Meet Tony at the Passion Centre this weekend!