Churches are failing to witness effectively to Christ because they are allowed to lie empty for much of the week, along with church halls and meeting rooms.
Churches could be meeting and serving their neighbours better while also bringing in much needed finance, according to a new report.
Church buildings, halls and offices sit empty for much of the week and could be put to better use the research says. Not only could churches be making more money (an estimate says that in London, that could mean around £60,000 extra per year) but also, having more people through the doors would directly benefit the churches' mission and outreach.
The report, Assets Not Burdens: Using church property to accelerate mission, by the Centre For Theology & Community, calls for a change in the way churches use their buildings. It says: "There is enormous potential for each denomination to make greater use of its buildings, which would have a missional and a financial benefit."
The research has been welcomed by a number of Anglican Bishops and Pentecostal leaders such as Bishop Dr Joe Aldred from Churches Together In England, who says: "It should encourage churches that in making more and better use of their buildings they will make more friends and perhaps more money too.
Research in the London Borough of Islington showed that church halls are empty 57 per cent of the week, church worship spaces are empty 69 per cent of the week and church meeting rooms are empty 75 per cent of the week.
Though larger churches often have staff who can manage property which belongs to the church, smaller congregations struggle with the capacity to use their buildings effectively. The report acknowledges this and suggests a central system for booking and managing property could be developed.
Commenting on the report, the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge says: "Church buildings should never be silent mausoleums but always vibrant centres of service at the heart of their local community." He goes on: "The report's analysis, theology and call to action fit squarely within our own vision to see Christians using their buildings 'to love our neighbour' as well as to worship God."