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The Church and unemployment

Churches could be doing a lot more to help people who are unemployed, according to a new report by the Evangelical Alliance.

Released on the World Day for Decent Work (Monday, 7 October) Working faithfully? looks at the experiences of evangelical Christians in the world of work and how churches are responding to the challenge of unemployment.

The report found that Christians are concerned about unemployment, with 82 per cent saying that the government should do better to ensure there are enough decent jobs for those who want to work. Three quarters agreed that the law should be changed to ensure everyone receives a living wage.

Churches are often seeking to address the symptoms of unemployment through projects such as food banks, with 40 per cent saying their church offers practical support to unemployed people in the community.

However, only 13 per cent of the report’s respondents were in a church which ran (or partnered with) a specific project to help unemployed people. Just 13 per cent were in churches offering voluntary work placements to the unemployed, and just eight per cent were in one which had set up a social enterprise or business that offered opportunities for employment or work-related training.

Many Christians commented on the shame and low self-esteem they experienced after losing their job. Almost a third – 31 per cent – felt they received no support from their own church when they became unemployed.  Additionally 39 per cent felt that their church provided regular teaching about the biblical understanding of work.
In a statement accompanying the report, the EA said this was ‘a shame’, given evangelicals' strong historical track record of helping people into work.

There are many ways that churches can get involved in tackling issues of unemployment, it continued. These include setting up a Christians Against Poverty Job Club, while the Church can also address the issue of unemployment by ‘encouraging entrepreneurial Christians to create much-needed jobs’.

In a series of action points at the end of the report, it stated, ‘In the context of continuing economic difficulties, the Church’s lack of attention for unemployment needs addressing.

‘Our challenge is to become prayerfully and practically involved in relevant activities and initiatives to help people into work. Importantly, the Church also has a responsibility to encourage entrepreneurial Christians to create much-needed jobs, and thereby regenerate our communities.’

Visit www.eauk.org/snapshot to view and download the Working faithfully? report.
Baptist Times, 09/10/2013
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