Holistic Mission: Social action and the Church of England



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New ResPublica Report. 'Holistic Mission: Social action and the Church of England'

New ResPublica report argues that the Church must become an enabling institution focussed on holistic, interpersonal and local social action.
Local government and churches should work together to fight deep-seated poverty and social dysfunction, urges a new report from ResPublica.

Holistic Mission: Social Action and the Church of England reveals that the Church drives social action, and calls for the Government to recognise and harness this power for the common good.

Launching on Wednesday 10th July in Lambeth Palace, with keynote remarks from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Justin Welby and the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP, the report will demonstrate that the Church has a truly unique place in English society, and is the key to unlocking a revolution in both voluntary and statutory public service provision. The report argues that we need new institutions for the 21st century, and that the Church is well-placed to become one.

Drawing on new survey data, specifically commissioned for this research, the report reveals the following about the social action of the Church:

  • The Church promotes social action: 79% of Anglican congregations formally volunteer compared with only 49% of the general public. 90% of church congregations informally volunteer compared to 54% of the general public.
  • The Church is hyper-local: 90% of Anglican volunteers are participating in social action within 2 miles of their home – and 88% travel under 2 miles to attend church.
  • Belief drives volunteering, but volunteers don’t proselytise: 61% of Anglican volunteers strongly agreed they were motivated by their faith – but 88% are comfortable helping those with different beliefs or values.
  • But the Church can’t do it alone: 89% of volunteers agreed that their work was needed to compensate for poor government services.

The report argues that the Church is not simply a source of willing volunteers, but also a vital motor of social cohesion and social action. Local churches have access to people on a direct human level and are connected to communities at a level more local and more personal than most government service providers. The report demonstrates that the beliefs of the church are central to its success in this and that the gigantic potential of the church must not be seen as independent from its foundational ethos.

Phillip Blond, Director of ResPublica, said:

“Institutions are crucial to brokering the future of a country. Without both enabling and mediating institutions that leverage people into education, skills and shared prosperity, a nation cannot progress.

“This report argues the Church has the potential, the experience and the capacity to become one of the foundational enabling and mediating institutions that the country so desperately needs. The Church is a unique institution with enormous reservoirs of good will, education and capacity. As the established Church, it can broker in not just itself but all the other faiths and beliefs that constitute the nation and the moral vision of the country in the establishment of a renewed common good.”

The report highlights innovative examples of new and expanding church-based social ventures and the emerging social investors taking up the opportunity to create great social impact through them.

Resurgo Investors, cited within the report as a leading innovation, is one such example; it is a club of socially motivated investors established in 2013 which aims to accelerate the reach and impact of outstanding church-based social ventures.

Tom Jackson, Chief Executive of Resurgo Social Ventures, said:

“Local churches are distinctive in their geographic spread across the country, their commitment to social service and their ability to catalyse a local network of volunteers. Churches therefore provide a critical platform for deep social transformation and could generate even greater social impact with bolder vision, resourcing and leadership.”

The Research by Design survey, specifically commissioned for this report, can be downloaded at: www.researchbydesign.co.uk/cofe.

  • Phillip Blond


    Phillip is an internationally recognised political thinker and social and economic commentator. He bridges the gap between politics and practice, offering strategic consultation and policy formation to governments, businesses and organisations across the world. He founded ResPublica in 2009 and...

    Phillip Blond
  • Dr James Noyes


    Dr. James Noyes is an Associate at ResPublica, he was previously our Head of Policy and Strategy. Prior to joining our team, he was a lecturer at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po). James has a PhD from...

    Dr James Noyes