Making a Bigger Difference in the Diocese of Liverpool

Ideas and resources to help our worshipping communities make a bigger difference

The Diocese of Liverpool is asking God for a Bigger Church to make a Bigger Difference, more people knowing Jesus and more justice in the world. There are many ways, as disciples, we can make a Bigger Difference. As individuals, we are encouraged to Do Ten Things. As worshipping communities, we can carry out a range of social action work. 

On this page, we talk about how we can all make a bigger difference. We want to inspire you to take action that works in your area It uses research we commissioned from the Church Army which shows the wide range of ways we are making a bigger difference. 

Social Action

Watch more videos here
Social Action and Church Growth in the Diocese of Liverpool
In 2017, the Church of England asked parishes a question about social action in their annual Statistics for Mission returns. This helped us understand what action is being taken.

We wanted more detail and asked the Church Army to explore this in more depth and to help work out a connection between social action and church growth, 

You can read the full report here
Social action is happening across the diocese.
Churches in the diocese understand social action as broader than the regular, formally-organised activities offered in the Statistics for Mission survey
Church leaders and parishioners identified other types of social action, including:
  • One-off events to bring communities together (often with the aim of reducing social isolation) e.g. Summer and Christmas fetes; Harvest supper meals
  • Generous use of material and financial resources to local, national and international charities e.g. Christian Aid week; the Christmas Shoebox appeal; sponsoring the education of a child overseas 
  • Involvement in local and national politics/activism (either formally or through individual members) e.g. through social media campaigns, letters to MPs
  • Small-scale (potentially unnoticed) neighbourly acts e.g. maintaining the church gardens to provide a green space for those in inner cities; use of Fairtrade products
As these examples suggest, social action may be driven by individual parishioners. 

Supporting social action
Where appropriate, seek to work in partnership with other churches, charities, faith groups – this is often a valuable way to effectively engage with local communities and share resources

Support parishioners in their individual passions for social action, considering how to enable their engagement with Sunday congregations

Prepare Sunday congregations to welcome newcomers who have come through social action activities: the level of welcome on Sundays should mirror those of the social action activities

Reflect on how social action relates to evangelism/outreach in the parish - this may involve exploring how to incorporate spiritual elements into social action activities

Regularly seek to connect social action with Sunday services – this can be through teaching, intercessions, notices or inviting visiting speakers

Provide space for parishioners involved in social action to reflect on how this impacts their personal faith journeys

“We want to make a difference in people’s lives, but the main difference we want to make is for them to know God”

Find out more

In this section

Social Action and Church Growth in the Diocese of Liverpool

We commissioned the Church Army to look at social action across our diocese

You can read the full report here

Case Study: Social Action in Practice

St Francis and St Barnabas, Wigan

In 2014, observing social isolation, addiction and geographical struggles (such as people carrying heavy bags on the 20 minute walk back from their nearest food bank), St Barnabas and St Francis felt prompted to do something to help.

Working in partnership with local organisations, they developed a drop-in gathering, opening the church each weekday from 2.30-4pm. Run by volunteers from the churches, the drop-in has become a space where people are welcomed and accepted, can have a coffee and a conversation or engage with the other partnership organisations, such as Addaction or a local women’s group who regularly attend. Previously hosting a food bank, the drop-in is now the site of a ‘food outlet’ where members can access high quality food that would otherwise have been wasted, for a low cost. 

Since February 2018, a new Sunday congregation has emerged from these drop-in afternoons. Its evolution has been slow, responding to the desires of those using the service.  A year before, the congregation started running a daily prayer time before the food outlet opened. This included a ‘breaking of the bread’ gathering two times a week. Slowly word spread, and people would arrive early and ask to be prayed for. Congregation members prayed for them but also encouraged and supported them to pray themselves.

Conversations continued into the drop-in afternoons and some began to ask if they could come to church. From these questions and through listening to those asking them, a new worshipping community emerged. It started in the church hall but those attending began to ask, ‘When can we go to church?’, so it quickly moved into the church itself. At this time, church leaders felt it was not appropriate to fully integrate the new and existing congregations. Instead, 10-15 adults, plus children, now gather each Sunday afternoon for an informal, participatory service. Looking ahead, there are hopes that those attending will over time lead the service themselves.

What advice would they offer other churches looking to engage in social action projects, which may potentially lead to new worshipping communities? “If God’s put it on your heart, do it.” “Don’t be discouraged by people saying: ‘it’s just social work’.” Partner with local organisations; don’t wait to have everything you need in place. Then listen and respond to those who attend. 

Resources for Churches

There are plenty of resources to help those looking for support on what to do. You can find them here

Resources to help