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Does the future have a Church?

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Church of England decline?

Church of England decline?

Back in 1980, 5,201,300 people, representing 11.1% of the UK population attended church on Sundays. In 2005, this figure had dropped to 3,166,200 accounting for 6.3% of the population. Fast-forward to the present day and it is predicted that in 2015, just 2,081,500 people will attend church on a Sunday – just 5% of the UK population.

There’s no getting round the fact that church attendance in the UK is in decline but is it the same across all Christian denominations? See below for a closer look at the most recent stats for church attendance in the UK.

General UK church attendance stats

According to the British Social Attitudes Survey’s 31st report (issued in 2014) the percentage of UK people whom describe themselves as belonging to ‘no religion’ has increased from 31.4% to over half at 50.6% between 1983 and 2013. A recent YouGov poll also found that 77% of the population did not consider themselves to be religious and a further 40% said they were not religious at all.

The British Social Attitudes Survey found that only 41.7% of people in the UK identified themselves as Christians, compared to 49.9% in 2008 and 65.2% in 1983.

The highest number of respondents with religious beliefs are in the over 55 category and unsurprisingly the highest number of people who state no religious affiliation is young people between the age of 15 and 24 (30.7%).

Monthly and weekly church statistics

According to the Church of England, 7.6 million adults attend its churches each month and one in ten adults attend weekly. However the 2014 British Social Attitudes Survey found that 58.4% of the British population never attends religious services and only 13.1% of people reported going to a religious service once a week or more.

Church of England statistics

Despite reports of 7.6 million adults attending its churches each month, the Church of England has seen the biggest decline in church attendance over the years. Membership has more than halved from 40.3% of the UK population in 1983 to just 16.3% in 2014.

Out of the 16.3% of people who define themselves as belonging to the Church of England, a report found that 51.9% never attend services and only 10.7@ report attending church at least weekly (Source: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-belief-some-surveys-and-statistics/) 

The Catholic Church - 10% fall

The Catholic Church – 10% fall

Catholic Church statistics

In 2005 the Catholic Church had a membership of 1,667,463 in the UK, which dropped by 12% between then and 2010. Over the past five years it has dropped a further 10% with estimated membership for 2015 at 1,326,040. (Source: http://www.brierleyconsultancy.com/images/csintro.pdf).

Non-conformist attendance

Many non-conformist denominations including the Baptist Church and Methodist Church have also seen a fall in membership numbers. In 2005, the Baptist church had a UK membership of 207,777 members. This fell by 5% in 2010 and is expected to have dropped a further 3% between then and now, with an estimated membership for this year of 192,479.

In 2005, the Methodist church had a UK membership of 294,819. This dropped by 19% between 2005 and 2010 and is expected to have dropped a further 24% over the last five years, with a new estimated membership for this year of just 180,921. (Source: http://www.brierleyconsultancy.com/images/csintro.pdf)

However not all denominations have seen a fall in membership. New churches (+12%), Orthodox (+7%), Pentecostal (+22%) and those belonging to the ‘smaller denominations’ group (+14%) have all experienced an increase in membership over the past five years. See the table at http://www.brierleyconsultancy.com/images/csintro.pdf for further information.

Church attendance in 2020

With many Christian denominations in the UK seeing a fall in membership, it is predicted that by 2020, attendance will be at around just 4%, with an average age of 56.

 

Image credits: Phil McIver and Alwyn Ladell

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