Recently Lifeway produced a study on current trends in churches concerning the refugee crisis overseas and feelings about refugees here in the US. The results are telling, and I think they point out some significant steps local churches need to take to ensure we are headed in the right direction on this issue.
- 86% agree that Christians should “care sacrificially for refugees and foreigners.” One might think this goes without saying, but in the current climate, this question was a natural baseline. According to the study, though, the overwhelming majority of pastors think local churches should care about refugees.
- 44% believe there is a sense of fear in their local church about refugees. This is where the numbers start telling a story. Almost half of pastors believe their church fears refugees coming to their community. Despite the need to care for them mentioned above, almost one out of two churches are afraid of them coming.
- Only 35% have addressed the refugee crisis from the pulpit. At this point, I believe we start to see some of the dilemma. Only one third of churches have even heard the issue talked about in their pulpit. Certainly, it has been water cooler conversation at work. However, in most local congregations in the US today, the members are not hearing anything about the refugee crisis. This means they are getting their information from other places, and they are certainly not hearing about a biblical response unless they are seeking it out from somewhere other than their church.
- Only 19% say they are doing anything overseas. And inevitably, the result of not talking about the crisis is no action concerning the crisis. Globally, this is one of the biggest humanitarian disasters in generations, and there is surprisingly little being done in many churches.
- Even less (8%) are doing something at home. I have written before about how we do not have a refugee crisis in the US right now. However, since it is on the news, it has become a political football to be tossed around. This has only incited the fear mentioned above and is resulting in a shockingly low number of churches who are willing to reach the unreached refugees that are now in arms reach of their church.
Pastor and Pulpit Disparity
One thing I appreciate about this study is the level of insight it gives to the current disparity between church leaders and their congregations concerning refugees.
- 98% of pastors said they felt personally informed about the refugee crisis.
- But 72% have not discussed ways to help refugees locally.
The results of this study are telling. There is a wide gap between what pastors know and believe and what the congregation knows and believes. Overall, when asked if Christians should care for refugees and foreigners, the overwhelming response is affirmative. Honestly, I’m a little surpised that there are even a few people who would say no! Nevertheless, the situation in the pew is much different, with almost half of congregations surveyed saying they are scared of their new neighbors.
While much needs to be done, an immediate point of action is clearly education. Pastors, 98% of which claim to be informed about the refugee situation, need to be addressing this issues from their pulpit. Certainly, the fear of church members needs to be addressed. However, so does the need to be involved both locally and globally through a number of means.
Has this issue been addressed in your church? If not, would you consider asking your church leadership (respectfully of course) about your church’s response to this global humanitatian crisis and Great Commission opportunity?
Here is the Baptist Press article on the study: “Refugees, Churches & Fear Spotlighted in Study”
By SZERVÁC Attila (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0]