What did the first survey tell us?
In just a few days in March 2020, the UK church environment was turned on its head. Buildings which had for centuries been at the heart of worship and community care were suddenly closed in an unprecedented move. Yet, in response to ongoing restrictions, churches have seen an unparalleled explosion of creativity - in every area of their work.
Our first survey highlighted the enormous amount of work, energy, and commitment going into both virtual and non-virtual ways to engage and serve congregations and wider communities. Churches have taken huge steps forward in providing online worship and teaching, together with other digital tools. There are clear, exciting benefits for those previously unable to worship together regularly (such as congregations in rural multi-church parishes); those who are housebound, or could not attend services for other practical reasons; and newcomers finding 'virtual worship' an inviting and accessible way to become involved.
73% of clergy and church staff said their churches provided online prayer and pastoral support
However, while the internet has been a lifeline for many, for others the shift online has been inaccessible, alienating, or has failed to meet their key needs. A mixed economy of approaches to care and communication is therefore essential. Great energy has been invested in providing pastoral, spiritual, social, and practical care through phone calls, letters, and cards to the isolated, activity packs for children, shopping deliveries, and many other creative ways of using buildings, outdoor spaces, and community collaboration to offer support, hope, and comfort.
"We have supported a lunch club delivery service, cooking and delivering hot meals on 3 days a week to support those who would otherwise attend lunch clubs in the city."
Town Clergy/Staff, Aged 41-50
The first survey gathered many creative ideas that are helping churches engage with and support their local communities. It also showed the great benefits of churches sharing ideas and adapting them for different contexts. A set of creative ideas for engaging with communities for Christmas and Advent was issued:
- Ideas for Christmas Services, (PDF, 3.05 MB)
- Christmas ideas for Community Engagement, (PDF, 3.02 MB)
- Christmas ideas for Families, (PDF, 3.07 MB)
- Christmas ideas for Discipleship, (PDF, 3.18 MB)
We have also developed three sets of resources for churches for the New Year through to Lent, looking to address some of the major needs that have developed in communities over the past year - in particular, struggles with mental health, anxiety, and bereavement, while also looking forward with hope to a year of potential recovery and rebuilding:
What do we want to find out this time?
We have appreciated all of the ideas coming through, and this survey wants to collect more. Please share any activity – large or small – which you have offered or experienced, either through the survey or through the Contact Form on this website, so these can be shared to stimulate and encourage others.
We also want to know where you believe churches could be doing more as the country continues to experience the COVID-19 pandemic as well as when we move into a period of recovery. How can churches help individuals and communities rebuild their lives and what support will you need to be able to bring this about?