According to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, few Americans are aware of many efforts by local Christians or churches to serve their neighbors.
LifeWay Research’s survey of 1,000 Americans looked at 13 service programs often run by churches—from tutoring kids to teaching job skills. They asked Americans if they’d heard of churches or church members being involved in those activities in the past six months.
Six in 10 say they know churches feed the hungry. Half say they know churches give clothing to the poor.
Beyond that, acts of service by churches often appear to go unnoticed, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
Few Americans were aware that churches help people prepare their taxes (8 percent), provide foster care (12 percent), teach English to immigrants (13 percent) or teach job skills (13 percent).
A few more know churches tutor kids (16 percent), provide aid to new moms (19 percent), support local schools (21 percent), offer after-school programs (24 percent) or meet with people in prison (25 percent).
About a third of Americans know churches shelter the homeless (33 percent) and provide disaster relief assistance (39 percent).
Fourteen percent of Americans haven’t heard of any of these services by churches. Seventeen percent are not sure.
Not surprisingly, Americans who attend religious services are more likely to have heard about good works done by congregations.
30 percent of those who attend services at least once a month say they’ve heard of churches tutoring school kids. Only 8 percent of those who attend less than once a month have heard of church tutoring programs.
48 percent of those who attend at least once a month have heard of church members meeting with those in prison. Forty-five percent have heard of churches sheltering the homeless. Infrequent attenders are less likely to have heard of churches visiting prisoners (12 percent) or sheltering the homeless (27 percent).
58 percent of those who attend services at least once a month are aware of churches providing disaster relief, compared to 29 percent of those who attend less than once a month.
72 percent of those who attend services at least once a month are aware of churches giving clothing to the poor, while only 39 percent of those who attend church less than once a month have heard of that ministry.
79 percent of those who attend services at least once a month have heard of churches feeding the hungry. About half (49 percent) of those who attend less than once a month have heard of this.