Christian Research reverses predictions of numerical decline for UK churches
New data released by Christian Research today suggests that the decline in churchgoing has stabilised and that attendance figures have actually been more or less static for the last five years. This reverses a series of predictions made during the 1990s and into the early 2000s by the former Director of Christian Research, Dr. Peter Brierley. The current Director, Benita Hewitt, points to data from the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Baptist Union of Great Britain which shows a broad stabilisation of church attendance. A simple PowerPoint slide can be downloaded by clicking here and which illustrates these statistics.
The charts show that monthly attendance within the Anglican church has remained steady at around 1.7 million since 2001, whilst weekly attendance has declined in the same period from 1.2 million to a little over 1.16 million, a loss of 40,000 although since 2002 the figure has dipped and peaked around the 1.17 million mark.
The Roman Catholic community in England and Wales measures weekly mass attendance and official figures show that since 2004, the average weekly mass attendance has hovered around 920,000.
Hewitt confidently predicts the end of the decline and hopes that it ‘may even motivate Christians and churches to think that there is a chance of growth, if only they believed in it.’ Figures for the Baptist Union indicate a significant dip in 2004 but otherwise show an increase in membership from 149,000 in 2003 to 154,000 in 2009. Hewitt insists that this is far from evidence of decline and in response to a question posed, she insisted that ‘it’s a trend we’re seeing generally from a number of different sources.’
Writing as Christian Research’s Director, Hewitt states definitively that despite what earlier editions of Religious Trends had predicted, ‘Christian Research’s current view is that it does NOT forecast decline for the future.’Explore posts in the same categories: Church attendance, europe, research, United Kingdom