Friday, December 11, 2009

Latest CofE stats on giving and ordinations: More is Less, Less is More

Latest CofE stats on giving, ordinations and membership have just come out. The attendance figures I think are the same as those announced earlier in the year, but with some comparison charts and tables, and go as far as 2007. Here's a couple of tables on change in attendance from 2001-7.

The figures on finance also go as far as 2007, and ordinations to 2008. Full list of tables here. Some headlines:

Ordinations - the number of clergy ordained to full time ministry in 2008 was higher than any year since 1994 (323). The total number ordained was also higher than any other year in the same period (574).

Giving levels continued to rise in real terms, despite a decline in membership.

Total Paid Clergy: projections to 2013 are for a further drop of 600, fuelled by the large blip in retirments, to 7700 in 2013. Another chart (below) projects forward to 2018 - it's hard to tell without seeing the figures it's based on, but it looks like numbers will continue to fall, and the main age group will be 50-65. Most of the drop will happen among 'younger' clergy - my back of a hymn book calculation, based on the chart, is for roughly 500 clergy under 40 in 2018. That's not very many! Having said that the age profile of clergy recommended for training has edged downwards in the last few years.

These stats have come out roughly a month later than in previous years, but from what I can see there is a bit more detail than before. For example, if you're in a diocese which you suspect of having too many people in 'senior' posts and not enough clergy on the ground, this table will tell you exactly how many paid clergy are in parish posts, and how many are 'dignitaries'. It also breaks it down into the number of male and female clergy in each diocese.

It's a mixed picture: attendance slightly down, but that masks some dioceses which are declining and others which are steadily growing. Income seems surprisingly good, though the 2008 and 9 figures, post credit-crunch, will be interesting. A good number of ordinations, but still outweighed by the retirements.

And it's still changing - the maps may tell you that Bath and Wells attendance grew from 2005-7, but our 2008 figures are nothing like as rosy. There are hopefully other Dioceses which have seen the opposite.

The challenge of that last fact is how to get ahead of the game. At the moment we're still, mostly, trying to support the system which worked with 1970 staffing levels. We need to change to the system which will work with 2020 staffing levels, and ideally before we get there, rather than 40 years afterwards. Even better, we could stop designing our system around staffing levels, and start designing it around what the church is supposed to be like (a few clues in the book of Acts) and what we're supposed to be doing (making disciples). I don't recall Jesus saying 'go and lead services for all nations', but having just done 3 carol services for a local school, I am both the pot and the kettle in conversation with each other.

Analysis of comparative figures last year 'Fewer and Older'. I think most of that still stands...

more on Monday.

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