Wednesday, 26 May 2010

South Asian Concern survey of Churches - Threat or opportunity?

This is the title on the press release sent out by South Asian Concern on publication of their survey results. The text continues...

Imigration was one of the key issues raised in this month's dramatic General Election. Its impact on British society has been significant, from food and fashion to business and politics. But what about the Church?

While some churches have been revitalised and new ones formed through the presence of ethnic minorities in their local areas, this does not generally apply to South Asians. The vast majority of the 2 million plus South Asisans in the UK regard the Church and Christianity as irrelvant to them*

How is the UK Church responding? Is it foing anything at all? This is what charity South Asian Concern, hoped to discover through its recent survey.

South Asian Concern will use the information from the survey to help churches reach out to South Asians. Ram Gidoomal, SAC Chairman, says "We have the opportunity to engage with the unreached here in out midst and - for some of us - at our doorstep!"

The survey confirms that while some churches are engaging with South Asians in a variety of ways, from Girls' Brigade to Bollywood nights, others are struggling to make inroads in their local South Asian communities.

A lask of understanding of Asian culture, apathy and a lack of resources were reasons given by churches for not being involved in specific outreach to South Asians. Cultural issues that hindered engagement included the common perception among South Asians that Christianity is the same as Western culture, the place of religion in South Asian identity, as well as family and community pressures.

But some churches are overcoming these challenges and seeing fruit. The importance of prayer was evident in the survey, both in motivating churches to reach out and in creating opportunitites. Churches involved in outreach to South Asians were more likely to pray for them. Those not involved were less likely to pray.

Taking time to build realtionships were also key. Visiting people at home was more common amongst churches actively engaging with South Asians than holding English classes or youth clubs. Relationships could help people make the transition from bridge building activities, like parent and toddler groups, to deeper engagement with the church, such as attending worship services and exploring the claims of Christ.

For the survey report including all the data from the returned surveys, please contact South Asian Concern: Also visit their website

*There are an estimated 75,000 Christians of South Asian origns in the UK, less than 4% of the total South Asian population.