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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

church growth through social action

given recent media reports about how pope francis may have a focus on poverty  .... 

i was reminded of a church urban fund study on this issue and its relationship with church growth

the following is summarised from the church urban fund report on this subject which you can find here

- some 865 anglican clergy were surveyed in december 2011.  their churches were broadly representative of anglican churches in terms of the type of church tradition (i dislike the phrase churchmanship)  location and congregation size

- 93% agreed that engaging with the poor and marginalised in their local area is a vital activity for a healthy church

- yet only 44% said tacking poverty was a fundamental part of their church's strategy

- the report presents information which seems to suggest that for churches that do something to tackle poverty:

- 79% are more outward looking;
- 76% have a deeper understanding of god's purpose;
- 71% have improved relationships with local organisations and the wider community;
- 57% have improved relationships within the church;
- 33% have increased giving;
- 28% have a growing no. of worshippers.

- although as a famous statistician ought to have said - just because characteristics co-exist doesn't mean they correlate - so some of the above results could be simply a consequence of an active leadership and congregation 

- the most commonly identified areas such churches tackled were with those experiencing social isolation, low self esteem, family breakdown, unhealthy lifestyles, debt and low income

- other areas tackled included schools work, youth work, counselling, unemployment, parent and toddler groups, care for the elderly, food banks, lack of basic skills and benefit dependency, homelessness, poor housing, domestic violence crime, mental health problems and drugs or alcohol abuse

- common barriers to tackle such areas included a lack of leaders, volunteers and funding

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