Thursday, January 19, 2012

Latest CofE Attendance Stats (2010): the Snooze Button Buster Remix?

The latest batch of attendance stats from the CofE has come out today, and it's not for those of a nervous disposition. The trend of decline is still there, and showing no signs of bottoming out or reversing. The only glimmers of light are an upward blip in weddings (early impact of the Weddings Project and their excellent website?) and baptisms (which are replacing weddings as the first public rite of passage for a new family, possibly because they don't cost so much).

Press release
stats on Fresh Expressions nicely presented in a series of powerpoints. There's estimated to be 30,000 people who are part of a Fresh Expression, but who wouldn't otherwise be part of a church.

As and when I get time, there'll be an update here of the Diocesan 'league table'. Only 10 dioceses have shown an increase in adult attendance in 2008-10, and the overall picture is pretty grim. From 2000-2010 CofE adult attendance on Sundays fell 11%, that of children and young people fell by 23%. The only consolation is that this is marginally better than the 1990s (14%/28%)

And it's not that people are moving to midweek or monthly patterns of attending either: 'weekly' attendance is dropping faster than Sunday attendance for adults (-13%) and monthly attendance is -11% over the decade. So whichever way you look at the CofE cookie, it's crumbling.

Public Memo to General Synod: how about handing over one of the 4 allocated slots for debating women bishops to debating this stuff? After all, what would be the point of a perfect gender split in the house of bishops if the only thing they have left to debate is who will switch the lights off? At what point is this a wake up call, or will we just hit the the 'snooze' button again until next years stats?

Update: a very positive take on the stats at the Guardian, reflecting the good work done on the Weddings Project.


  1. I'm afraid it is beyond the scope of many to contemplate the fact that the parish structures are now devoid of any meaning; that we can't keep maintaining the nations museums; that English Heritage should no longer have a veto on church plant development; that the incessant tinkering with diocesan structures is pi**ing in the wind; that our energy should be focused on identifying areas of growth and prioritising rather than spreading effective ministry thinner to maintain what is clearly dying.

  2. Oh dear. How very very gloomy but it's OK because someone senior told me that their take on the figures is that things are looking pretty good. That makes things OK then :)

    Look forward to reading the detail!