Friday, March 14, 2008

Church attendance in England

Statistics aren't everything. But they also aren't nothing.

This post prompted me to go and dig out the figures on church attendance from the last English Church Census. I found them here. They make for a sobering read in some ways.

6.3% of the population of England attend church regularly.

Of which 40% attend evangelical churches of some description.

Which means evangelicals make up about 2.5% of the population.

Which is 1,264,800 people. (And falling).

We could analyse this 2,5% even further, by looking at the way it breaks down into broad, mainstream and charismatic evangelicals. But that would be perhaps a little too controversial. As it stands the 2.5% figure is enough to be thinking about.

[Off the main point slightly: The only thing is, when your church is 500 people strong you don't really feel like 2.5% of the population. I'm not against bigger churches, I don't buy the 'smaller is better' mentality of some (though I think there are issues about church life and discipleship tied to considerations of size). But I do think that one of the negative side effects of being in a bigger church is that you don't feel the cold bite of the wind. When you're singing the praises of God with a few hundred other people every sunday you can feel like the gospel is doing better (numerically speaking) than it is. Does that contribute to our bouts of evangelistic apathy and naivety, to our spiritual weakness, to our prayerlessness?]

I do believe that Britain has a Christian future. But we've got to realise that it won't happen at this rate, until (by the grace of God) we make some changes.

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