Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This summer my Doctor of Ministry students will visit churches in Atlanta working with “Friends of Refugees,” hearing from the executive director of that organization. Working with refugees is not only a biblically mandated responsibility of the Church, but also relatively easy to undertake. According to this article most churches let their lack of knowledge and/or worries prevent them from undertaking this important task.”
By Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, 3/2/16.
When it comes to helping refugees, Protestant churches and their pastors are often separated by faith and fear, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research.
Most pastors say Christians should lend a hand to refugees and foreigners, and believe caring for refugees is a privilege.
But pastors say their churches are twice as likely to fear refugees as they are to help them.
“Pastors believe Scripture tells Christians to care for refugees and foreigners,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Yet many admit their church is not involved in such ministry.”
Among other findings:
- Almost all pastors (98 percent) believe they are at least somewhat informed about the Syrian refugee crisis.
- Many pastors have not discussed or heard about ways to help refugees locally (72 percent) or overseas (63 percent).
- About 1 in 10 churches (9 percent) has decided not to help refugees locally. Seven percent have decided not to help refugees overseas.
- Pastors are twice as likely to say their churches are helping refugees overseas (19 percent) as locally (8 percent.)
- Pastors are four times more likely to say Christians should care for refugees (86 percent) than to say their church is helping refugees overseas (19 percent).
- Churches are most likely to help refugees by giving money to relief organizations or praying (19 percent each). Fewer churches volunteer to help refugees locally (7 percent) or sponsor individual refugees (5 percent.)