Monday, January 14, 2008

Christian Research and Statistics on the Web

Having just skimmed through Linda Barley (CofE stats head honcho)'s 'Christian Roots, Contemporary Spirituality', where she does a good job of pulling together various bits of social attitudes research, I thought I'd post on the various bits of research available online...

Anglican Church
Church of England Statistics homepage: links to recent attendance stats, and ORB opinion surveys on church schools, Christmas etc.,

Church Statistics - also hosted by the CofE, has everything from the age of parish clergy to giving levels in the CofE, and you can look back to 2001. It'll tell you the size and population of your diocese, number of churches etc.

Fresh Expressions research, which has a useful summary of some other stats collected by Tear Fund (see below), Richter & Francis and others looking at how open to Christian faith the general population is, and the proportions of (to use the jargon) churched, dechurched, and unchurched.

The Sheffield Centre have a new Research Bulletin which you can get online: short and to the point, looks like a good resource.

General
Christian Research, are the publishers of the UK Christian Handbook, and the yearly Religious Trends survey. It's a great site to dig around in, and you can also subscribe to a monthly email bulletin.

TEAR Fund did a substantial piece of research on churchgoing last year, which found that the number of non-churchgoers who'd be open to giving it a go was much smaller than previously thought. The link gives a summary, and a link to the full report. They also did a survey on prayer last month which quizzed people on how often they prayed and the effects they experienced. It made it clear, among other things, that stacks more people pray than go to church.

David Couchmans excellent site has a summary of the Soul of Britain survey (done by the BBC a few years ago), and sections reviewing some of the key research books of recent years: e.g. Gone but Not Forgotten (Richter & Francis) and Alan Jamieson's A Churchless Faith (currently in my reading pile)

David Hay & Kate Hunt have done some important work on 'Understanding the Spirituality of Those Who Don't Go to Church' Pages 9-10 of the report summarise the research done by others, and the whole report analyses interviews done with non-churchgoers about their religious experiences and beliefs. The most striking statistical bit is this (apologies for the formatting - hopefully you can work it out!!):

TABLE 2: FREQUENCY OF REPORT OF RELIGIOUS OR SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE IN BRITAIN FOR THE YEARS 1987 AND 2000
1987 2000

A patterning of events 29% 55%
Awareness of the presence of God 27% 38%
Awareness of prayer being answered 25% 37%
Awareness of a sacred presence in nature 16% 29%
Awareness of the presence of the dead 18% 25%
Awareness of an evil presence 12% 25%

CUMULATIVE TOTAL 48% 76%

...as someone recently observed: Christians were praying for God to be at work in revival all through this period, maybe it just happened outside the church rather than inside....

Meanwhile the Evangelism UK website keeps track of latest research project, here are the ones they currently link to.

nearly Finally if you're into thinktanks, then try Theos or Ekklesia (both have a Christan ethos) or Civitas - their 'Factsheets' section has some powerful and worrying research on the effects of absent fathers on child development.

Finally, keeping it local - Christmas attendance at St. James (my local, counting all morning services in Advent, Christmas services, Carols, Nativities, Christingles etc.) rose from 840 in 2000 to 1060 in 2003 to 1135 in 2007 (roughly: we don't scan people through the door). That bears out the national stats showing a rise in Christmas attendance at other churches.

That'll do, I'll get my anorak....

3 comments:

  1. Hi Dave,

    I was at St John's college with you for a year. Bit of a 'churchless faith' advocate and have in the past worked on the Spirited Exchanges UK website -http://spiritedexchanges.org.uk/ - linked with Alan Jamieson's work.

    Anyway, New Year, new broom - I still have your handkerchief (purple stripey rag). Would you like it back? How should I get it to you (laundered)... ;)

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  2. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the link, I'll have a look. I seem to remember Becky and I hijacked your birthday party one year to announce our engagement, so you're very welcome to keep the hanky as our act of penance! What are you doing at the mo?

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