The UK Church in Action
Only one quarter (26 per cent) of the population believe the church is “good for the community”, with many remaining indifferent or uninformed about the role it plays at a local and global level, despite a swing towards social justice ahead of evangelism over the past decade
These are among the findings of The UK Church In Action, which was commissioned by World Vision UK in partnership with research firm Barna Global.
The report was launched on Thursday (24 May) at Lambeth Palace to a group of church leaders and charitable organisations, and is intended to be used as a resource for churches to assist them in engaging more deliberately in social justice and identifying clear mission goals, both locally and globally.
The study is among the most comprehensive examinations of the general public’s attitudes towards the church and surveyed 2,054 British adults, 1,170 active Christians as well as 302 church leaders from various denominations.
The report aimed to explore not only the role of the church in modern Britain, but faith leaders' attitudes toward mission and social justice and the importance of mission within the church context.
The UK Church in Action showed how church leaders had perceived a swing towards social justice over the last decade, ahead of evangelism, in the context of mission. In the future, the leaders surveyed in the report believe there needs to be much more of an equal importance between the two.
The report found that UK church leaders primarily associate “social justice” with advocacy or “working for the common good of others” and that they overwhelmingly believed it to be a crucial component of the church’s mission. Many identified “poverty assistance” as the top way in which they hoped their church would pursue social justice.
It found that approximately one third (31 per cent) of the UK population struggle to identify the needs the UK church should meet.
For those who did see a role for the UK church, many identified working with the elderly and supporting those who are homeless as areas in which faith communities could provide a useful contribution.
David Kinnaman, co-founder of Barna Global said, 'We have noted a growing trend to define the mission of the church less exclusively about evangelism, but increasingly to include social justice and working for and with the poor and the marginalised.
'This study has highlighted that, while churches are prioritising social action and often delivering on those priorities, their efforts are not always widely recognised by the wider population.'
Tim Pilkington, CEO of World Vision UK said, 'The launch of ‘The UK Church In Action’ marks an important moment for the church in this country. The report shows us that over 60 per cent of Christians want to know more about global mission but many of those outside the church are unaware of the good work being done.
'We are encouraged that churches are keen to engage in social justice and World Vision welcomes the opportunity to partner with the church in the UK so that together we can equip Christians and inspire non Christians around the social justice agenda they care about.
'At World Vision, we believe in God's unconditional love, and we want to reflect this love in all that we do.'
The published study is available to buy or download at www.barnaglobal.com