What role can churches play in the new economy?

There are all sorts of people involved in the movement for a just and sustainable economy – political parties, NGOs, trade unions and pressure groups, and a handful of faith communities and organisations too. To give a few examples among many, I admire the work that the Archbishop of Canterbury has done on credit unions and the Just Finance Foundation, or the leadership that the St Paul’s Institute offers in the City of London. Tearfund‘s work on the Restorative Economy is a great example of applying Christian principles to development and sustainability, and Christain Aid has led on tax justice and the funding of fossil fuels.

As a Christian myself, I’d like to see more of this. I’d also love to see it filter down to a more grassroots level, with more churches taking an interest in economics. If you’re based in the UK and you share that desire, here’s an event to stick in your diary:

Joy in Enough: The Big Workshop takes place in Sheffield on Saturday the 18th of November, and it will a place to explore a faith-based movement for a new economy. It’s hosted by Green Christian, who I’m helping out at the moment with their Joy in Enough campaign. We’d like to get a broad range of people and perspectives there on the day, so have a look at the details and perhaps I’ll see you there.


  1. In our personal experience volunteering at the grassroots level and in a lower socio-economic suburb of Melbourne, a local church organisation is charging community groups $30 to $40 per hour for them to deliver volunteer services in local neighbourhoods.

    What role can churches play in the new economy? Move away from the above capitalist base model of ‘renting out God’s space at top dollar’ because it is not sustainable for volunteer services at the grassroots level.

    1. There are churches near me that charge similar rates to charitable groups. I often suspect that it’s priced that way to deter people and avoid the hassle, rather than to make money. I also know churches that make their premises available free, on a ‘pay what you can’ basis, or with different rates for businesses or community groups. So it’s a mixed bag, and it depends on how outward looking a church is.

      So yes, that’s a good starting point. If you believe that your church is there to serve the local community, make sure the community can actually use your resources, whether that’s a building or a minibus or a newsletter.

  2. Interesting comment to make on churches and the economy. I believe in what I’ve heard described as Toxic Charities…Basically we need to use economic prinicples to help us serve the community rather than be hindered by simple grace. How can we leverage our capabilities while at the same time serving our communities. Hope to catch more from you!

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