UK church sees need for missionaries from abroad

The UK was once a missionary-sending nation but after years of secularisation, a new poll has found that Christians in the UK are increasingly looking to the overseas church to help in the work of spreading the Gospel.

In a survey of more than 1,100 UK Christians, 74% agreed that the UK needed missionaries from other countries to come and bring the Gospel to the people.

This figure was supported by 68% who stated that out of all the world's regions, the UK should receive the highest priority for church mission, prayer and support.

The feeling among UK Christians is reflected in their giving, with a quarter of those surveyed saying they had started to give more generously to UK causes than to overseas ones.

More than 50 per cent of evangelical Christians felt that immigration had benefitted the church over the last 50 years, while nearly all (95%) said they felt they could learn from and be inspired by the church overseas.

Three-quarters of those surveyed said their own church gave significant support to an overseas church, while 76 per cent said that the Olympics were an excellent way to communicate the Gospel.

Of those surveyed, 30 per cent said their churches will hold at least one outreach event linked to the Olympics. One person in the survey will be a competitor in the Olympics.

The figures were published in "The World on our Doorstep?", the latest quarterly booklet from the Evangelical Alliance's research arm.

The strong awareness of mission reflects the results of a poll last year in which 90% of Christians said believers should be actively involved in evangelism. However, the poll found that only 60% of those surveyed were actually doing it.

"As a nation we are quite comfortable showing both reservation and determination in equal measure,” said Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance.

“But when you are blessed with this tension in your identity it's no surprise that, though we are eager to be evangelists, we do struggle with it. It explains why Christians might look to the overseas Church when they hear it confidently spreading the Gospel despite often being victims of intense levels of religious persecution.

"But we must accept overseas missionaries as a gift and let them inspire us. We need to increase our confidence in speaking about our faith and also asking ourselves 'what can I do today in my own church that weaves the values of Christianity into our local communities?'"

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