Church-Based Social Ministry in Context
Religious entities play a vital though limited role in our social safety net. The majority of congregations engage in community-serving activities, though their commitments tend to be shallow. Four currents in the broader political and social setting have particular implications for understanding faith-based social services: devolution, faith-based initiatives, changing norms for religion in public life, and ambivalence toward evangelism. Shifting patterns in church-state relations have generated both opportunities and uncertainties. This dynamic context invites a fresh conceptual framework for interpreting churches' public engagement. In particular, new language is needed to describe the “faith factor” that has meaning outside of the religious community, but does not reduce faith to a product of other social variables
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