Let’s start by stating the obvious: our country is facing challenges on a scale few of us have ever seen. And it’s not just COVID-19 which is ransacking our health and economic wellbeing.

We’ve seen the Black Lives Matter movement highlight racial discrimination both implicit and explicit in our society, and the true depth of inequality exposed and exacerbated under the glare of the pandemic.

These are big issues – issues that require UK-wide attention. But, as churches, we can’t sit in the stands and watch the consequences unfold. We need to roll up our sleeves and get involved.

Why? Because that’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Mark 12:31 makes this very clear, Love your neighbour as yourself.” And love is a very powerful verb.


But what should we do?

In his book, After Virtue, author Alasdair MacIntyre says, I can only answer the questions What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question of What story or stories do I find myself a part of?’”

His words provide an interesting perspective. You see, we’re not part of a static moment in history – but rather an ever-evolving story. Take a quick look in the rearview mirror of life and you’ll see quickly that many of the initiatives we, the church, were involved in 20 or 30 years ago no longer seem fit for purpose.

We need to continually review and update our role in the story without taking our eye off the overall narrative. Because we’re part of a bigger story too, aren’t we? The greatest story ever written. A story of salvation.

Our challenge is to balance responding to the immediate needs, alongside the eternal.

What should our Christian response be?

We are reminded in Proverbs 14:16 that it is fools” who plunge ahead with reckless confidence.” We don’t want to rush in with short-term, knee-jerk responses that threaten to do more damage than good. But we can’t procrastinate either. This story is unfolding quickly.

But, let’s be honest. If you’re a small church, then the prospect of developing a robust, sustainable and effective social action response, that takes into consideration your own limitations and the many and varied needs of your local community, is daunting to say the least.

This is where Cinnamon Network comes in. For a decade now, we’ve been helping churches respond to the changing needs of their communities. And over the next three years, we have bold ambitions to take church-led social action to the next level.

At present, if you are a small church wanting to make a big difference in your community, Cinnamon can help you get there quickly. Our list of tried and tested Cinnamon Recommended Projects provide off-the-shelf solutions to current issues – from unemployment to domestic abuse and mental health to food poverty.

Alongside these – you can get advice from our advisors on how best to get an initiative off the ground; receive online training on everything from making your church COVID-safe, to fundraising; and join webinars hosted by specialists in their field.

A small church in Erdington

It’s helped churches of all sizes and denominations make an impact. Take the Redeemed Christian Church of God Covenant Restoration Assembly in Erdington, with a congregation of barely 50 members.

Even before the pandemic, unemployment in Erdington was way above the national average. In response, Cinnamon helped the church set up an Ignition job club (one of our recommended projects), alongside a foodbank in the community. The project has been so effective that the local job centre asked to come along.

This is a church writing that eternal message of hope into the immediate story of unemployment. They offer much-needed practical help, but are ready to give a reason when someone asks them why, as we’re called to do in 1 Peter 3:15.

Sometimes people come in and just break down,” says Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim, pastor of the church. They just can’t take it, but we have space and people who can just sit them down and talk with them and ask ok, what’s really going on?’ We never push the issue, but if they want us to pray with them, then we do.”

We’re on the move

But things are continually changing and with the help of Allchurches Trust, Cinnamon is looking for visionaries and pioneers who can help churches respond to new needs in new ways. Over the next three years we want to:

  • give churches greater choice, by increasing the number of our Recommended Projects (that churches can easily replicate) to 50;
  • improve the diversity of social franchise projects, by supporting 10 fledging projects on the Cinnamon Project Incubator programme of training and mentoring;
  • help projects replicate more quickly and improve their long-term sustainability by supporting leaders with access to a workshop programme.

It’s a model we know works.

Take the long-term problem of homelessness. A few years ago, the church’s response to homelessness could be summed up by the image of a mobile soup kitchen. It was what we did. On a Friday or Saturday night, we’d hand out blankets and soup.

It wasn’t wrong. But our thinking has moved on since then. Experts now recognise that if we want to truly address the issue of homelessness, then we have to look at solving the underlying causes – not merely respond to the symptoms. (If this particular topic strikes a chord with you, then we’ve got a great blog on this over on the Cinnamon website).

It’s a massive shift in our thinking. But is the average church geared up to help? Probably not. So, last year, Cinnamon went on the hunt for church-led projects that were already leading the thinking in this area.

Five incredible projects are now on the Cinnamon Project Incubator, refining their ideas into initiatives that other churches can replicate.


Hope4All is a great example, set up by housing resettlement officer, Adeola Ogunade. Over the years, Adeola has seen too many people lose their home, simply because they didn’t know their rights.

In response, she brought together a group of people from her church and beyond and trained them up to offer advice through surgeries across South East London.

With the support of the Cinnamon Project Incubator, Hope4All is ready to expand further, sharing their knowledge and way of working so other churches can reach out, provide support and prevent homelessness.

Body of Christ

The truth is, we don’t have to know everything or do it all. We’re the body of Christ. We work together as part of our bigger story.

Our communities feel different in comparison to how they did a year ago and will, no doubt, have transformed again by February 2022. In response, we need to continually shift and adapt and Cinnamon is here to help churches do that.

As the wonderful story of humanity continues to unfold, we have a universal message of hope that we want to write through every chapter. It won’t be easy, but as Martin Luther King Jr said, Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”