Reaching out to local communities in a variety of ways, in order to share love, hope and faith.
Churches reach out to their local communities in a variety of ways, in order to share love, hope and faith.
At present, during the social distancing measures of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid 2020, this outreach might take the shape of care packages delivered to someone's door, a phone call, or online streaming of faith activities and music.
In this light, we offer some research insights about local church outreach and evangelistic activities, in the hope that they stimulate and encourage your church to continue to love your neighbour.
Churches that took part in the 2016 NCLS were also asked the question: ‘In the past 12 months, has this local church conducted any of the following outreach or evangelistic activities?’. The list of options and responses in shown in the table below.
Results reveal that nearly half of churches (45%) held evangelistic church services or events and 29% offered evangelistic courses or studies, in the twelve months prior to 2016. Other outreach activities were also selected by some 22% of churches, out of the list of options provided.
There are different emphases across the denominations in regard to Jesus’ call to make disciples. Among Catholics, evangelisation has been seen more as a responsibility of the clergy and religious brothers and sisters than of the laity. Among Protestants, particularly Evangelicals and Pentecostals, the mission responsibility of rank-and-file attenders has been emphasised. There has been debate over the relative importance of evangelism and the helping ministries of the churches, sometimes resulting in one area gaining ascendancy over the other.
Churches that took part in the 2016 NCLS, were asked to complete an Operations Survey outlining programs and activities, including whether in the past 12 months, the local church had conducted any outreach or evangelistic activities from a list provided. Results are shown in the table below. Some 45% held evangelistic church services or events such as guest or outreach services and 29% offered evangelistic courses or Bible studies such as Christianity Explained and Alpha.
In the 2016 NCLS, attenders were asked about their involvement in any activities of their local church which reach out to the wider community.
Some 17% of attenders were involved regularly in outreach or evangelistic activities in 2016, compared to 14% of attenders in 2001.
For the time being, during mid 2020, church outreach activities might look more like online chat groups, digital streaming of music performances, or food and supply packages dropped to someone's door, due to social isolation measures. However we hope this research stimulates creativity and motivation for local churches and churchgoers to continue to reach out to their neighbours in love.
Powell, R. Sterland, S. Pepper, M. and Hancock, N. (2016). 2016 NCLS Attender Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research.
Castle, K. (2001). 2001 NCLS Attender Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research.
Being invited by friends or relatives is a very common way in which people join religious groups.