05 Conclusion



Increasing Your Church’s Impact
in the Global Poverty Fight

By Roxanne Stone, editor in chief for Barna Group

Knowledge is power. You’ve heard this, of course, and at Barna our hope is that we’ve empowered you with the knowledge you’ve read in this report. Through the data, infographics, interviews and research, we aspire to inform you in your work to combat global poverty.

But, as we’ve seen over and over in this report, knowledge can only go so far. Many well-informed, well-educated people still remain cynical or cautious when it comes to fighting global poverty. At the same time, many people who feel concern or even personal responsibility for addressing poverty exhibit a lack of awareness about the subject. Which prompts the question: What do you do with this knowledge from this study? If there is one thing that makes us sad as researchers at Barna, it’s when our work is read once, shelved and forgotten about. Knowledge must be turned into action.

As a spiritual leader, how can you use this research to guide your efforts to serve the poor? How can you use what you’ve learned here to inspire greater engagement in the people you lead?

There are a few key takeaways from this research that I think can help.

People are looking to you!

The world wants pastors and their churches to take the lead in fighting global poverty. Christians, especially, see pastors as influential and well-positioned to address poverty. They are seeking leadership in understanding and action from the Church. This study reveals that pastors do have authority to speak about topics of poverty with those in their pews. Additionally, there is an opportunity with many who might be outside the Church—the research reveals that younger Americans and liberals, in particular, want to see the Church do more to address global poverty.

Make it personal.

The more people are able to feel personally connected to the work you are doing, the more apt they are to stay engaged. Tell stories of the people you are working with; share how your efforts are making a difference; let people from your congregation share their own experiences in serving the poor. Consider choosing one cause and / or ministry a month to highlight, with a few words on this partnership or project every week from the pulpit.

Celebrate success. Hope is a powerful motivator in the poverty fight. Optimism about ending poverty and about one’s role in that effort are connected to engagement. When people believe what they are doing is actually making a difference, they are encouraged and maintain interest. Make time to cheer for the good work your church is doing and for the tangible effects you are having.

Publicize your efforts.

One barrier people identify as keeping them from serving the poor is a simple lack of information. They don’t know what to do or where to start. Don’t shy away from making the opportunities to serve known to people—put it on your website, talk about it during announcements, have booths or sign-up sheets available in your foyer and enlist small group leaders to register their groups.

Look to the margins. Minorities and a small group of highly engaged volunteers are some of the most optimistic, interested and active in poverty reduction. Come alongside those in your church who are already working in these areas and ask them how the church can help. Look to them as leaders and advocates in your ministries that serve the poor.

Don’t be afraid of scarcity or confused priorities.

The research in this report reveals time and again that the more you care, the more you care. Meaning, people who deeply care about and are engaged with domestic poverty are also the ones who express concern about global poverty. Those who donate to missions are more likely to also donate to global poverty. People have room in their hearts (and often in their wallets!) to care about more than one or two issues.

Take heart!

Practicing Christians are the most engaged segment of the population when it comes to fighting poverty. Local churches are already doing many things right in discipling Christians toward compassion for the poor. But there is more to do: Fighting poverty—both material and spiritual—will always be the mission of the Church. We pray this report—both the data and the stories—will be an encouragement and a spark as you press into this mission.

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06 Appendix A - Notes

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