What is community action?

Community action is a church-led project designed to serve the local community, either in response to an immediate and obvious need there, or, following a survey of needs which has uncovered an issue.

The nature of projects can vary widely, from tackling loneliness, isolation, poverty, hunger and abuse, to finding ways of addressing a lack of integration between ethnic groups, right through to promoting local recycling initiatives.

Why start a project?

Community action shows God’s love transforming people’s lives in amazing ways through the practical support given by volunteers (and sometimes paid workers). Regardless of how ‘humble’ a project is, good things can come out of it, perhaps in more ways than we can imagine when we first begin.

Community action is right at the heart of the work of our church and has been for centuries

For example, the second great commandment asks that we love our neighbours as ourselves. In answer to the question ‘Who is my neighbour?’, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, (Luke 10: 29-37), to show that everyone is our neighbour, and in the parable of the ‘Sheep and Goats’ he says: ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me’.

Luke 10: 29-37

and this is a Biblical foundation of a phrase that is repeated in Church of England worship:

‘Honour one another and seek the common good.’

Finally, three of the Five Marks of Mission make clear that the Church of England’s mission includes pastoral care, social action and engagement with the social, economic and political structures that affect people’s lives:-

  1. To respond to human need by loving service
  2. To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  3. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

The church engages in community action because, quite simply, through loving our neighbour, God gives us a passion to help others.

Different types of community action projects

These are just few examples of the type of projects which you might consider in your local community, but isn’t an exhaustive list:-

Bereavement care
Women and children’s work
Financial and in-kind assistance
Credit Unions
Emergency accommodation
Food aid
Lunch clubs and cafés
Education and training
Opportunities for personal development
Outreach and preventative work
Street pastors
Community links
Networks and forums
Recycling and environmental concerns
Social enterprise
Advocacy and campaigning
three people talking at a table, debt advice banner in the background

How to get started

If you have a project idea and are keen to make a start, visit this page for tips and guidance.

If you’re interested in background reading, a Church of England report produced in 2012 in answer to the Government’s Big Society initiative may be a helpful way to think about the bigger picture. It may also help you reflect on national developments since then and how this could affect certain types of community projects. Although the Big Society is no longer talked about in the political sense, the report celebrates the church’s role in ‘building better neighbourhoods’. It’s an encouragement to consider this form of ministry, and a practical tool for anyone thinking of embarking on a venture.


Source URL: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/community-action