This research project will investigate how churches in England contribute to social cohesion. (Upcoming)
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Theos and the Free Churches Group are conducting an eighteen–month project seeking to understand the impact of churches on social cohesion in England.
Our research will be framed around a series of case studies which together will provide original qualitative research into the challenges faced by churches responding to social cohesion concerns in their local areas. These case studies will be taken from across the country and will be selected on the basis of existing concerns surrounding social tensions. Our research in these areas will primarily consider the successes and limitations of existing Christian responses at the community level.
Over the course of these investigations, we will discover what is already been done by churches in response to social cohesion concerns, and evaluate the impact of these initiatives through consultation and conversation with community leaders and a broad range of local faith communities.
This research will give rise to a major report into the nature, challenges and opportunities for the Church’s response to social cohesion today, as well as a series of ‘how to’ booklets aimed at churches looking to deepen their engagement with social cohesion and policy makers hoping to engage with churches on these issues.
The project will aim to consider the following central research questions:
1. What are churches already doing at the local level to aid social cohesion?
2. How is this activity connected with, embedded in and legitimised by churches’ ongoing gospel mission?
3. What are the factors emerging from this activity that can be seen to move communities towards social cohesion?
4. What are the factors emerging from the research process that that can be seen to move communities away from social cohesion?
5. What lessons are there for churches looking to engage in these issues?
6. What lessons are there for statutory bodies and community groups who wish to work with and draw on the resources and leadership of the churches in England to foster social cohesion?