Belief in the UK
We all know that church attendance has been falling and 50 years ago over half of people in the UK would go to Church. A report on “Churchgoing in the UK” published by Tearfund in April 2007 shows that 58% of the UK population claims to be Christian.
Church attendance in the UK
However, if you look at how many people go to Church at least once a week or once a month this is only 9.1% and 15.1% respectively. There is also a vary large number of de-churched ( people who believe without belonging to Church.), such that the ratio of de-churched to regular attenders is about 2:1. The survey reports that, throught the negative experience of Church, nearly all of these de-churched people are closed to invites to Church.
Decline in Churchgoing
While the method used to produce these figures shows a slightly higher attendance than those from Christian Reasearch, there is no doubt that the long term downward trend in Church attendance continues as does the increase in average age of Churchgoers. So far nothing the Church leaders have done seems to have brought about any change in the decline that started in the 50’s.
Trend of UK Church attendance
Source: Religious trends 5, Brieley 2005 Table 12.9.1
Rates of decline
The decline for attendance forecasts a 50% fall from the 1990 level by 2020. The decline in Church attendance is significantly higher than membership, and that for ministers is about the same that for Churches. This tells us that even amongst the membership the Church in general struggles to attract people to services.
Four tends not one
The wider picture of decline in the UK Church includes four aspects: the increasing average age, a fall in the number of men, the proportion of Christians who believe without belonging, and a tendancy to be middle class. Put them all together and the picure you get of the Church in the UK is one that fails to attract four people groups:
4th from bottom
If the Church in England was the national football team we would have sacked the manager long ago. A European social study (published in 2002) put the UK at the 4th lowest rate of Church attendance in Europe.