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16 December 2016

Press release

Jesus and giving at the heart of Christmas

Jesus and giving at the heart of Christmas

Evangelical Christians give generously of their time and money at Christmas. 

New research released by the Evangelical Alliance shows that nine out of 10 evangelicals they surveyed will either volunteer or give money this Christmas.

In a survey of more than 800 evangelical Christians, the findings demonstrate that good will is not in short supply this year, as nearly every one of them will give to charity this Christmas. Less than one per cent intend on reducing their giving, with almost a third (29 per cent) intent on increasing their generosity – this is more than the one in five in the general population who give more at Christmas.

When it comes to actions to serve people in their communities, nearly four out of 10 (39 per cent) of evangelicals surveyed will either provide food parcels for people in the community or meals for homeless or vulnerable people.

These evangelical Christians viewed the wider celebration of Christmas across the UK in contrast with their own views, with 84 per cent saying that it was too much about money and consumerism. However, 70 per cent of Christians give consistently throughout the year, generosity is a way of life not just a Christmas gift. 

In what might be described as an unsurprising finding, the poll confirmed that for evangelical Christians Jesus is at the centre of their Christmas celebrations. When asked how enjoyable different aspects of Christmas were, celebrating Jesus' birth came out top, followed by time with friends and family, giving gifts, receiving gifts, and in last place, eating indulgently. 

Two thirds of evangelical respondents said Christmas in the UK was still characterised by celebrating Jesus' birth. In contrast, a poll of the British public showed only 22 per cent thought celebrating Jesus' birth made Christmas an important time of year.

More than 99 per cent of evangelicals surveyed said they would either be singing carols or at a Christmas church service this year. 

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, commented: "Jesus really is at the heart of Christmas, and at the heart of our celebrations. While many evangelical Christians are concerned about the focus on money at Christmas, their actions are focused on generosity of their time and finances.

"More than two thirds of those who took our survey don't anticipate financial challenges this Christmas, and while the giving we see is remarkable, it is also needed. The ease with which many can enjoy Christmas is certainly not universally shared with many requiring food parcels, or struggling with unsustainable debt."

The evangelicals surveyed were asked if they spent more than they could afford, incurred debt, or found themselves cutting back or not getting what they wanted to buy at Christmas. While 13 per cent felt pressurised into spending more than they would like to, 71 per cent said they experienced none of these concerns. 

"It is a real challenge to the Church," Clifford continued. "When we don't see for ourselves the challenges many face. It's a nudge for Christians to continue to show charity, but also a stark reminder that our congregations might not reflect the realities of the communities we are in or seeking to reach."

Despite suggestions that Christianity is being airbrushed out of Christmas, two thirds of the evangelicals surveyed by the Evangelical Alliance in early December said celebrating Jesus' birth is a key part of Christmas for the whole of UK society.  

Key findings

  • 39 per cent of evangelicals surveyed will either provide food parcels for people in the community or meals for homeless or vulnerable people.
  • 99 per cent of evangelicals surveyed will take part in a religious activity this Christmas (carol service, church on Christmas Day or Eve, or public carol singing).
  • 94 per cent will take part in a carol service.
  • 89 per cent of evangelicals surveyed will either volunteer or give money to a charitable cause this Christmas.
  • 73 per cent of evangelicals surveyed will give to charity, and 22 per cent will give money to local, national and international charities. 
  • 99 per cent give consistently throughout the year or increase their giving at Christmas. 
  • 84 per cent of evangelicals surveyed characterise the celebration of Christmas in the UK as too much about money and consumerism.
  • Two thirds (66 per cent) see Christmas in the UK as still a celebration of Jesus' birth, and an equal number view it as a great opportunity to tell people about Jesus. 
  • When asked personally about their enjoyment of various aspects of Christmas, Jesus came out top. 93 per cent scored celebrating his birth highly (4 or 5)
  • 84 per cent highly enjoyed spending time with family and friends, 76 per cent giving presents, 35 receiving presents, and only 19 percent rated eating indulgently highly. 

Media Enquiries

Danny Webster
Tel: 07766 444 650
Email: d.webster@eauk.org

Notes to Editors

  1. 811 evangelical Christians were surveyed between 28 Nov-5 Dec
  2. '1 in 5 Brits say then tend to give more at Christmas' and '16 per cent still say Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus' from: http://nfpsynergy.net/1-5-people-claim-donate-more-charity-christmas-yet-similar-proportion-say-they-find-it-harder-give 
  3. A YouGov poll commissioned by the British Humanist Association and embargoed until 00.01 16 December 2016 showed that 22 per cent of the general public were excited about celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas.   

The Evangelical Alliance

We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.