Churches are not getting the most out of their buildings says report
A new report entitled Assets Not Burdens: Using church property to accelerate mission from the Centre For Theology & Community presents the findings of in-depth research into how churches use their buildings.
It is the first fully ecumenical study of how church buildings are used in the UK. The report shows that almost every church actively serves its local community. But it also demonstrates the extent to which church buildings are underused and the need for an enterprise-based approach to the management of these assets.
Churches could be meeting and serving their neighbours better while also bringing in much needed finance. 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 key findings came from an in-depth case study of the London Borough of Islington and the reports notes that while its findings primarily addresses an urban church audience, many of the lessons have wider applicability.
There are three case studies each pointing to one possible approach for making greater use of church assets.
They also propose a new enterprise-based approach to securing a much greater utilisation of church buildings. The suggestion is to establish a new independent ‘not for profit’ social enterprise as a pilot in one local geographical area (e.g. a London Borough). This organisation would offer a professional service to churches in that area to market and let out their church spaces, as they determined, and assist them in maintaining and managing those spaces.
The research has been designed and delivered independently by the Centre for Theology & Community (CTC) and has been grant-funded by Allchurches Trust Ltd.
Background: The Centre for Theology and Community believes that churches in deprived and diverse areas have a vital role to play in the transformation of their communities and of wider society. Their aim is to equip churches to transform their communities – through community organising, theological reflection and prayer. We also help them to use their resources more effectively for this mission. To support this, they undertake research and share the lessons through publications, training and consultancy.