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Saving Souls, Serving SocietyUnderstanding the Faith Factor in Church-Based Social Ministry$
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Heidi Rolland Unruh and Ronald J. Sider

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195161557

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195161556.001.0001

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Does Faith Work?

Does Faith Work?

Spiritual Dynamics and Social Outcomes

(p.195) 10 Does Faith Work?
Saving Souls, Serving Society

Heidi Rolland Unruh

Ronald J. Sider (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Many supporters of faith-based initiatives claim that a religious approach is better at solving social problems. Without purporting to evaluate these claims, this chapter describes the ways Christian activists explain a link between faith and social efficacy, in the form of five postulates: Being faith-based expands social service program capacity; people of faith serve more effectively; a religious perspective enhances program content; spiritual conversion empowers beneficiaries to achieve socioeconomic goals; and church-based programs offer beneficiaries the support of the faith community. While ministry practitioners disagree whether faith is necessary to social outcomes, seldom do they claim it is sufficient. The potential of faith-based approaches may be limited by a disconnect between the ideals of religious practitioners and actual praxis.

Keywords:   faith-based initiatives, social problems, faith, faith-based social services, efficacy, conversion, social activism, churches

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