21 June 2012
Evangelising the UK - help needed
Evangelical Christians are keen on "reverse missionaries", according to new research by the Evangelical Alliance, which shows that 95 per cent feel they can learn from and be inspired by the Church abroad.
Seventy-four per cent of those surveyed in The world on our doorstep? research thought the UK needed missionaries from other countries to come and bring the gospel to people in this country.
The report is the latest in the 21st Century Evangelicals research, which started with a survey into the beliefs, habits and practices of 17,000 evangelical Christians last year.
These figures concur with last year's research which showed 90 per cent believe Christians should be actively involved in evangelism but only 60 per cent are actually doing it.
"As a nation we are quite comfortable showing both reservation and determination in equal measure," said Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance.
"But when you are blessed with this tension in your identity it's no surprise that, though we are eager to be evangelists, we do struggle with it. It explains why Christians might look to the overseas Church when they hear it confidently spreading the gospel despite often being victims of intense levels of religious persecution.
"But we must accept overseas missionaries as a gift and let them inspire us. We need to increase our confidence in speaking about our faith and also asking ourselves 'what can I do today in my own church that weaves the values of Christianity into our local communities?'"
The World on our Doorstep?, the latest quarterly research booklet from the Evangelical Alliance's research club, explores the dichotomy of the British evangelical. It shows that UK Christians have a high level of interest, understanding and empathy with overseas need but a limited understanding of how to engage with the world on our doorstep. Its findings suggest that Christians huddle together with others from their own culture and ethnicity, which encourages a sense of being in a minority and feeling harassed. And it is into this space that overseas mission can thrive.
The World on our Doorstep? also reveals that:
- More than 50 per cent of evangelical Christians feel that immigration has benefitted the Church over the last 50 years
- 68 per cent feel that of all the world's regions, the UK should receive the highest priority for church mission, prayer and support. Over the last 10 years, 25 per cent had started to give more generously to UK causes than to overseas ones
- 75 per cent of those surveyed said their own church gave significant support to an overseas church
- 82 per cent are more likely to give to a Christian organisation than a secular one
- 79 per cent agreed that international sport – such as the 2012 Olympics – is an excellent way to build friendships between the nations, while 76 per cent think the Olympics is an excellent way to communicate the gospel. Of those surveyed, 30 per cent said their churches will hold at least one outreach event linked to the Olympics. One person in the survey will be a competitor in the Olympics.