Social action

All across England, churches are coming together to help their communities in practical ways.

All across England, churches are coming together to help their communities in practical ways. 

There are a large number of ways churches in ecumenical partnership (working together with other churches) are helping and serving their local communities. Indeed, with many government services facing large cuts over recent years, and the significant impact of the coronavirus crisis, the local church has many opportunities to love and serve locally.  

Ways churches are working together in social action 

Read some great examples of churches coming together in social action and mission locally; in Cornwall, North Yorkshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire.

You can also read more in our specific pages on: 

At the bottom of this page you’ll also find a range of stories illustrating how churches are working together in social action across England. 

Social action and the five marks of mission 

The five marks of mission help us understand the various forms of mission in God’s world today, as the Church joins in with the total redeeming work of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in saving, healing, restoring and renewing the world.  

The third and fourth marks of mission might be best be described as summing up the broad approach of mission and social action (although there are other ways). These marks are: 

  • to respond to human need by loving service 
  • to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation 

Evangelism and social action – it’s not an ‘either/or’  

At one point in mission history, there seemed to be a stark divide. Some felt that preaching the gospel was always the absolute priority, being more important than showing practical support through social action (and that social action was merely a tool to open up a community). Others believed that helping others in practical ways was a form of mission itself.  

But today, this division has largely gone, with evangelism and social action being seen as different sides of the same coin – ways of showing God’s love to others.  

As Bishop Mike Royal, a member of CTE’s Pentecostal and Charismatic Forum, describes “There is a glimmer of hope in the current malaise.Up and down the country, local churches who are rooted in local community have being coordinating a response to people in their communities who are falling through the cracks.  

“The last decade has seen an unprecedented response from churches of different persuasions. Liberal churches, High orthodox churches; conservative evangelical churches and charismatic Pentecostal churches have all adopted best practice projects run by organisations specifically collaborating with local churches to make a difference…” Read Mike’s reflection in full.   

Further resources 

Previous research about how the church has been involved in social action can be found in the report from the 2014 National Church Social Action survey, authored by Geoff Knott.  

Together for the Common Good, one of our Bodies in Association, provides excellent resources and training. These resources draw on a coherent framework of Common Good principles to help you fulfil your vocational responsibility and play your part for the wellbeing of the whole community – in your neighbourhood, school, church, workplace or everyday life.

Another Body in Association, World Vision, also offers a number of resources.  

Other organisations also worth exploring are Your Neighbour (who are seeking to co-ordinate a UK church response to the Covid-19 crisis), the Cinnamon Network and HeartEdge.