Research shows a link between reading the Bible and having a desire to relieve poverty.
87% Christians have taken action on poverty in the past year and see it as a core part of discipleship, according to a poll of 2,958 UK adults by research firm Barna Group for the poverty charity Tearfund.
Christians Who Make a Difference, the report released on Friday, looked at the connections between Christian beliefs, practices and priorities in relation to their response to poverty.
The research shows that Christians are more likely to donate to charity, with 73% Christians saying they did and 63% of all other UK adults.
49% believers gave food, clothing, furniture or other resources to someone in need.
Christians were slightly more likely to make consumer lifestyle changes, such as recycling, reducing meat consumption and using a green energy provider, with 39% of Christians saying they did so and 35% all other UK adults.
Among those who regularly attended church (at least once a month), the percentages were even higher.
Those who held a high regard for doing something about poverty also prioritised spiritual practises like reading the Bible and praying. Two-thirds said reading the Bible was essential for growing their faith, compared to half of regular churchgoers who said they didn’t serve people in poverty.
The top five activities that Christians believed help to grow their faith included: praying (57%), being part of a church community (51%), reading the Bible (42%), donating to the poor (42%) and worshipping God through songs (33%).
The study also revealed that growing up in a Christian household is a significant predictor of later poverty activism, even among adults who don’t attend church now. Six out of ten poverty activists grew up in a home where Christianity was practised regularly, even though they no longer attend church.
Dr. Ruth Valerio, Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at Tearfund said: “This new research shows that serving those in need and taking care of the whole of God’s creation is not only an essential Christian discipline, but plays an important role in spiritual growth. In the last 20 years the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has halved. An end to extreme poverty is possible – but we must act together, as the Church, united in a whole life response to extreme poverty.”
David Kinnaman, President at Barna Group says: “The crucial question the next generation is asking is not whether the claims of Christianity are true, but does Christianity account for good in people’s lives and in society? Against the grain of popular sentiment, our team keeps uncovering evidence that many Christians are, in fact, a force for good in the world. In the data from this study, we find Christians – and those with a Christian upbringing – prioritising care for and action on behalf of people in poverty. Christians make a difference.”
Barna Research interviewed 2,958 adults aged 18+ in the UK between 10th and 20th April. Data were weighted to be representative of all UK adults aged 18+ by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade.
By Cara Bentley