20 June 2012
Evangelising the UK - help wanted
A new poll of Christians reveals overwhelming acceptance that there is a need in the UK for missionaries from overseas.
The research reveals that 95 per cent of UK Christians feel they can learn from and be inspired by the Church abroad. Seventy four per cent thought the country needed missionaries from other countries to come and bring the gospel to people in the UK.
These figures concur with research into Christian behaviour from 2011 that 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.
The response to the poll was 38.5 per cent (1,151 people from a total of 3,000).
Download or order a copy of The World on our Doorstep? at: www.eauk.org/snapshot
Tel: 07766 444 650
Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance, formed in 1846, is the largest body serving evangelical Christians in the UK, and has a membership including denominations, churches, organisations and individuals. The mission of the Evangelical Alliance is to unite evangelicals to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. According to a Tearfund survey (Churchgoing in the UK, 2007), there are approximately 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK. For more information please visit www.eauk.org
21st Century Evangelicals is a series of research booklets produced by The Research Club: Care, Care for the Family, CAP, Compassion UK, CWR, Evangelical Alliance, MAF, Open Doors, Prospects and new members, Stewardship and Urban Saints. Its purpose is to study the beliefs, habits and practices of evangelical Christians in the UK, with each survey providing churches and Christian organisations with the type of data that will help them better understand and work with the communities they serve. In January 2011 the first publication of 21st Century Evangelicals was a groundbreaking survey of more than 17,000 respondents. The follow-up surveys will help us move forward and delve deeper in understanding more fully the beliefs and practices at the heart of evangelicalism.