The big fight against poverty from an army of small churches

calendar09 October 2015

Marianne Clough's avatar Marianne Clough

The big fight against poverty from an army of small churches

New figures have emerged showing that smaller churches can really pack a punch when it comes to social action.

Christians Against Poverty has discovered one in three of the churches it is working with have congregations of 50 to 100 members – not the mega churches people might assume are needed for such hard-hitting projects.

Chief Executive Matt Barlow said: 'We decided to do some research because people regularly say they feel they can’t make their mark on poverty because they belong to ‘just a small church’.'

'We found the truth is quite the reverse. We have partner churches that run job clubs; debt centres; they help the homeless; run a foodbank and more. Like David and Goliath, small really can be mighty when you are working with God.'

The research showed just one per cent of CAP’s partner churches had a membership of 500 or more while six in ten numbered 100 or less. A quarter had 21 to 50 people in the church with many smaller congregations working together with other churches in their community.

St Edyth’s Church in Bristol has between 40 and 50 adults.

Sian Hearsey, the CAP Debt Centre Manager there said: 'The area we live in and surrounding us has quite a lot of need. My role and the youth worker’s are paid for by applying to trusts as the church does not have much income.'

Birmingham Central Baptist Church has around 70 members but that doesn’t stop them from providing a CAP Debt Centre and CAP Money Courses for the community.

They run a job club; support groups; foodbank; elderly care; night shelter and after-school club.

Shoreline Church, Southport with a congregation of 70 to 75 people is able to provide housing for 500 people through charity Green Pastures; 200 a week are being fed through their own independent foodbank and they are aiming to open a CAP Job Club to help unemployed people – all this and a CAP Debt Centre.

Sue Silcock is a member of Tamworth Baptist Church, which has 96 members. She also runs the CAP Debt Centre there.

'We have had a CAP Debt Centre for 15 years and the work has been a blessing in so many ways.'

Find out about a partnership with CAP.

Read more about the power of the smaller church.

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