The good news, however, ends there.
You can always tell if it's been an iffy year, because the press release accompanying the stats is on something other than whats happening in a normal church on a normal Sunday. This year it's the social media profile.
I've been blogging for years on what's happening in the Dioceses, and whether we are, at last turning the corner. Sad to report that the answer is no: at least, not based on the official stats. If anything, it's getting worse
In the last 5 years, only two dioceses have seen adult Sunday attendance grow - London continues to be the engine room of the CofE, but many of the Dioceses that were doing well last time round have seen a sharp drop in numbers. For numbers, read people (see Acts in the New Testament, does it all the time). The rate of decline across the CofE has increased, and to have 12 dioceses recording losses in double figures compares with 5 for 2009-14.
Maybe the next generation will save us? Maybe not. Again, London is growing, again, nobody else is, and the figures towards the bottom of the table are catastrophic.
Perhaps the hope lies in non-Sunday worship? After all, millions of people now work on a Sunday, and the competition with leisure activities etc. is intense. Adult attendance Mon-Sat has risen from 112,000 to 122,000, so it is both growing, and a higher proportion of overall CofE attendance. However childrens midweek attendance has dropped like a stone - I'm hoping that's to do with a different recording system, but fear that it might not be.
There is wider cultural change too, away from Christendom and the culture that supported an established church. Baptisms, weddings and funerals taken by the CofE have dropped by 15, 21 and 28% respectively in the last 10 years. This in turn reduces the pool of community contacts and means local churches have to work harder to engage with the community, and move beyond dependence on the 'occasional offices' as a way of connecting with people.
One glimmer of hope in the figures is on p10 of the full report. Churches were asked to report on 'joiners' and 'leavers' during the year, and 80,000 people were reported as joining CofE churches. 32% of the adults and 58% of the children had never been church members before. That's encouraging, or does it just mean that we notice more when people join than when they leave?
There is probably a lot more to say in the detail, but I hope these stats are actually used for mission - I blogged on a previous occasion how the only people who paid any attention to membership figures were the finance department. A vicar who's seen their attendance drop by 15% in a year is more likely to get a call questioning whether they've under-reported to save on parish share (contributions to the Diocese) than whether they are ok and if they need any support.
Many Dioceses now have a mission strategy, including even Bath and Wells (I know, it's hard to believe at times), and it looks like we need it more than ever. But it shouldn't be a preservation strategy, even though God has probably used the ghastly stats above to kick the recalcitrant CofE out of its sniffiness about evangelism. We now need to get over our complacency about prayer.
Update: final thoughts - the 4,000 smallest churches have an average weekly attendance of 12, i.e. small enough to fit into a decent size front room. On average, CofE churches have a worshipping community of 75, with 54 of those present on any normal Sunday. This means that on a normal Sunday 1/3 of the congregation is absent. How does a church work and thrive and grow in relationships with this dynamic?
Also, each vicar costs roughly twice the average salary (due to housing, training, pension costs), so 40 people giving the 'Anglican tithe' of 5% to their church could support one. Bump that up to 50 for other central costs (our Diocese has over 50 support staff, sorting out things like training, finance, safeguarding, schools). Then you've got to find money to run the church - resources, building costs, etc. If some of those church members are fairly new, it's not long before you get to the point that the average local church only works if it's overseen by a part-time vicar. Either that or it loses the building (the other major cost centre). We have roughly 7,000 vicars to 16,000 churches, so it has to be that way anyway. Despite no longer being able to sustain the '1 parish 1 vicar' model, CofE structures and expectations are still largely based on it. We're like a fat man after a successful diet still trying to wear the same clothes. Buildings, parish boundaries, the expectation (indeed the law of the land) of weekly communion, committee structures, recognition of lay ministry (Lay Readers are the main accredited role alongside clergy, following 2 years theological training, Deacons get lip service and little more) etc.remain largely untouched from 20, 50, 100 years ago. And every few years, your parish gets blessed with an enforced vacancy, just to stifle any growth you might have managed to muster.
Either the system will collapse under its own wait (scroll up - maybe we're witnessing that already), or we need a decisive shift away from ancient buildings, paid clergy, or an over-clericalised theology and practice of church that stifles lay leadership. Or there'll be a miracle. I'd argue we need both.
update: a few more links at Thinking Anglicans.
PS if you're sharing this on Facebook, please could you tag me in, would be good to see the debate on FB as well as on the blogs.
update 2: At over 7000 views this is now the third-most read post on this blog (out of nearly 2600 posts). That is already more than the average Adult attendance in 2 Dioceses (Sodor and Man and, ironically, Hereford), and also exceeds the number of men confirmed in the CofE last year (6581). As a sign of the times, Facebook is the source for nearly 2/3 of the visits here, comfortably outstripping Twitter and other blogs. 9.50pm make that 9500 views, why so many visitors?
Update 3 Jeremy Marshall has some very perceptive analysis on his blog, worth a read if you are more interested in how we respond to all this.
recalcitrant CofE — more like pusillanimous CofE going by those figures.ReplyDelete
Hello David, Thanks for your thoughts. I question your approach of measuring growth by using the 2011 and 2016 end points. Noise in the data (due to error or exceptional circumstances in a year) means that this time period is not long enough to judge the trend that way, unless the change is large. So you conclude that London is the "engine room" and "growing" whereas if you look at the summary graph for London on p40 of the report it's immediately clear that over a 10 year period London hasn't been growing. It's held about constant. That's still better than other dioceses if you look at all the graphs, but it's not growing.ReplyDelete
Incidentally, I notice London's electoral roll number increased 2015-16 by a massive 7% while the adult attendance figure dropped. What's going on there?
Hello Mark, if you look at the other posts I've done in previous years (use the tags), you'll see that London has consistently either grown or held its own. And the end points are those actually set by the data itself - this batch of stats runs from 2011-16. I assume the CofE knew enough about their own data sets to think the years were capable of comparison, otherwise they would have made that point very strongly in the commentary.Delete
David, Did you look at the graph I referred to? London hasn't grown in that 10 year period, and the data doesn't show a trend of growth now. That Church House publishes the data over the 2011-16 period doesn't mean they support your interpretation. And see my blogpost from last year when the Economist made the mistake of only comparing end points: http://revmarkhart.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/capital-growth-or-northern-powerhouse.htmlDelete
That's right, but if you go back a bit further it's still the only Diocese that shows any growth long term: this post http://davidkeen.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/church-of-england-attendance-downs-and.html has the stats 1989-2010, which if you add on to the chart in the report looks a bit better. Tbh to refer to London as an 'engine room' when it's doing just slightly better than holding its own is on the optimistic side, but compared to the rest of the CofE its an astounding success. A couple of years ago the official stats came with quite a lot of caveats based on changing methods of counting, they are getting more rigorous, and I doubt they would publish data that couldn't be compared over a time period. Otherwise what's the point of advertising the decline?Delete
The best way to do this is run a linear regression through the 6 data points for each diocese (2011 - 2016). A nice coefficient with 95% significance should indicate a reliable time trend. Lower significance on the coefficient indicates not so reliable a trend.Delete
I agree with Mark about the reasons CH have published 2011 and 2016. This is for reasons of transparency, not for any deep statistical reasons; if they had done a more sophisticated analysis (for example using linear regressions as Peter suggests) then they'd lose half the audience. Everyone can understand comparing this year's figure with the one five years ago.Delete
Now, here's a genuine question and I'd be interested in views. Why should London and Southwark show such divergent behaviour? London is the part of London north of the river and Southwark south...what is the demographic difference explaining this? Are the London figures available in more granular form so that one could see whether the growth is in the central areas where people might commute in? Or is it due to an increase in population (if there is one) in the parts of London north of the river?
It is a theological and missional differenceDelete
Genuine question---can you quantify that?Delete
As I understand it, Southwark is more liberal and less supportive of church plants whereas London has many of them, mostly from HTB.Delete
Is that demonstrated by a careful analysis of granular data, parish by parish?Delete
London diocese has considerable historic resources and so do some parishes. Space can be rented out at much higher prices than elsewhere. This means London can have one priest one parish far more than in most dioceses...this must help.Delete
Looks like the media strategy alluded too in your piece ("hide disappointing stats behind digital news") worked with the exception of the Daily Mail (!) if today's CofE Media digest is anything to go by. http://us2.campaign-archive.com/?e=e467080abc&u=50eac70851c7245ce1ce00c45&id=b1f79be0abReplyDelete
thank you for keeping track of these figures. I wish more people were aware of them and their implications.ReplyDelete
David, thanks for looking at these—challenging stuff.ReplyDelete
To answer Mark Hart's point above, would it be worth producing a chart from the Excel figures to show the degree of noise, and perhaps point to trends...?
Ian, See the graph I referred to on p40 of the Mission Stats report. The point of these plots is to allow people to see trends.Delete
Thanks for the post David - as usual informative stuff. The only comment I'd make about growth or shrinkage figures is that they need to be compared versus the growth (or not) of the population in a diocese. So - for example - London's "growth" is actually not that good given the growth in London's populationReplyDelete
Here's a spreadsheet with the coefficient between year and AWA, together with the significance of that coefficient. Red means definite decline over the 6 years, amber means probable, others indicate can't really say with limited data.ReplyDelete
If you have the previous years we can do a longer term trend.
to summarise Peters findings, there are 6 dioceses for which there is insufficient data (including London), 8 'probable' decline, and the rest are red - definite decline.Delete
The significance levels are calculated on a two-sided basis. If you use one-sided p-values (possibly appropriate if you are particularly interested in decline) then all the ambers go red. [For the non-technical, a two-sided asks the question "has there been a significant change?" while a one-sided asks the question "has there been a significant decline?".Delete
A quick reply from the Research & Stats department.ReplyDelete
First to say how pleased we are that there are people who want to look at the numbers in detail.
Second to commend the approach of trying to include as much data as possible when thinking about trends. Peter's approach seems sensible. Per capita analysis is possible too - reports include diocesan populations (though watch out for reorganisations). I've tried in the report to make trend assessments based on the last 10 years, though that isn't always helpful since the questions asked have changed, and it limits the ability to see recent changes in trend.
Third to invite your thoughts as to which of the many measures is the most useful one for you. I see that Peter has used All age average Sunday attendance (from the October count). I know that some people favour worshipping community, others prefer average weekly attendance, others usual Sunday attendance. If only some visionary of yesteryear had come up with a perfect measure of church attendance and ensured that the information was consistently collected!
Fourth, to encourage anyone who wants to talk further to get in touch - our contact details are in the report.
Best wishes to all.
Thanks, Ken, for another excellent job done.Delete
I look at all the measures but for the trend uSa always seems the least noisy, the definition hasn't changed (as far as I know), there is more historic data, it's an average over more Sundays (in theory), and awa/aSa trends don't look different from it over the long term. It will probably take another 20 years before I will trust the worshipping community trend!
I chose ASA simply because it was one option. It would be interesting to look at the other measures for the same effect. What would be REALLY useful is a database with at least a ten year trend - we could then look at the first (and second if valid) differentials and make meaningful comment about trends over the last decade or more. HINT HINT.
Clearly looking for statistically valid long term trends is a useful exercise, I just wonder how you'd go about communicating that in your report.
Anyway, gone are the days when your department issued "cathedral attendances are up" reports, I write a blog post showing how statistically they're flat, and a month or two later we get another publication from you now stating that the trends are flat.....
Before your time, right?
Thanks Peter & Mark.Delete
You mean to say you don't find the exercise of transcribing hundreds of numbers from pdf tables into a spreadsheet therapeutic?
As noted above, the challenge with trying to do long-term stuff is that the questions haven't necessarily stayed the same, and those that have changed least are generally not the ones of most interest (though I'm sure there's some super work to be done on Easter communicants, collected reasonably consistently since 1922). If everyone who uses the data promises to read the methodology and study the footnotes before throwing numbers at a stats package it'll make sharing information much more worthwhile - otherwise there'll be daft articles about attendance in the Diocese of Wakefield falling to zero.
One really important reason for looking at long-term (however we define that) trends is to stop people getting overly excited about year-on-year changes. It's not always popular to tell someone that it'll be 5 years until we can say whether their particular innovation has made a difference, though.
Keep up the good work!
These stats mean nothing without the context of a) local population growth and decline b) local age profile of population and church goers c) ethnicity breakdown of populations d) what is happening in churches of other denominations e) cultural change about notions of attending social gatherings, clubs generally.. f) the meaning of the correlation between faith / belief / discipleship and attending worship services. That said I do think Bernard Silverman's question about the difference between London and Southwark is an interesting one...ReplyDelete
Maybe it's the nature of my blog readers, but it's a bit of a concern that nearly all the comments so far are about data collection and methods, and none so far about the challenge that the CofE faces. I've been tracking this information for a decade and this is as bad as it's ever been. That's even more depressing as the CofE is now more switched on to mission than it's been for at least 2 generations.ReplyDelete
A few questions:
a) The CofE produced a r
eport on the factors that contribute to growing churches a couple of years ago. Is anyone in a Diocese that has made any significant use of these findings?
b) Is anyone in a diocese that has scrapped the 'enforced interregnum' policy, and has that made any difference? Bob Jackson, who was the first person to track the Diocesan attendance data with a mission hat on, identified this as one of our key 'self-inflicted wounds'. That was nearly 20 years ago. Are we still shooting our feet?
c) Are we at the point where the inherited system no longer works? Or are we dealing with something so embedded in culture that no system would work anyway, so the structure of buildings, parishes, stipendiary housed clergy etc. is really only a matter of detail?
David, If I began a proper reply it would turn into a full blog post, which I may do when I get chance. My short answer is that, contrary to current CofE practice, I think we should stay longer with the data, understanding it as objectively as possible, allowing it to determine further research, and not rush into programmes for growth determined by limited experience and prejudice.Delete
What difference will a detailed look at the fine print of the statistics make? How much longer do we need to wait?Delete
The Church of England reported 2.3 million Easter communicants in 1922 (8.8% of the adult population). In 2006 the figure was 1.1 million (2.6% of the adult population).
An observation from the British Household Survey is that ‘institutional religion has a half-life of one generation’.
The percentage of children attending Sunday School has fallen from 55% in 1900 to approx. 5% in 2000.
The debate among Methodists is when the straight-line graph crosses the zero attendance axis - 2035 or perhaps 2040?
Behind all these statistics are real people who are not meeting with God through our churches. Continuing to monitor the stats while doing nothing very much isn’t really a good option, is it?
Mr Keen: I note your distress about the failure to mention mission and your long-standing scepticism about the viability of the current parish system; I agree that the lack of response re mission is disconcerting (although the fact that your excellent post has excited the repeated interest of one of this country’s foremost statisticians and an erstwhile head of house is a tribute to the acuity of your remarks). I have undertaken a tour or pilgrimage around much of England and Wales over the last decade, and have worshipped at more than three and a half thousand parishes across more than thirty dioceses (including a large part of Bath and Wells), with my ‘coverage’ being fairly comprehensive or complete in Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex (including all Greater London), Essex, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire (and IOW), Wiltshire and Dorset and significant tracts of other counties beyond. Not all of the services I attend are necessarily representative of the health of churches, but I reckon that I have seen enough of the Church at worship across a wide-enough area (urban, suburban and rural) to reach the conclusion – my ‘anecdote’ being on a scale that it might approach ‘evidence’ – that: (i) the recently published statistics are credible; (ii) the demographic catastrophe is a reality (and, if anything, has a worse impact because of the sporadic attendance of the relatively small cohort of younger people); (iii) the presence of young parents and infants flatters to deceive – since, save in a few places, teenagers are invariably as rare as snow in summer; and (iv) the Church is in a literal death spiral. If success is indeed a function of numbers (which may be doubtful in some cases), it is limited to: (a) a small number of gathered churches in rural areas – where success is a function of the adoption of a particular ‘tradition’ or the charisma of a particular parson or other prime mover in the church community; or (b) a small number of evangelical churches, which are generally found in city centres (especially those of university cities) and, periodically, in well-heeled suburbs or dormitory towns. Please note that I have encountered a number of churches in the evangelical/charismatic tradition where the demographics are pretty dire.Delete
Contd. Whilst I note the increasing investment in mission, it is coming very late and I fear that the results will not correspond to the expenditure, and that the current effort will go much the same way as the Decade of Evangelism; if the present efforts are indeed a ‘last roll of the dice’, I suspect the Church will soon need to quit the tables (current trends reflect, say, the rate of the disappearance of Christianity in north Africa: see the model developed by R. W. Bulliet in Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period: an Essay in Quantitative History (1979)). I do not believe that Church politics will have more than a marginal adverse impact upon attendance. The main reasons for the collapse are: (1) the loss of ‘acculturation’ at the most critical age, even in Church schools; (2) the loss of a common ideological narrative (a function of demographic and religious pluralism); (3) a declining sense of ‘place’ (particularly problematic for the Church of England, which has traded on its churches being the repository of the collective memory of local communities); (4) the legacy of poor leadership at a national and local level (some clergy should not be in orders and wreck their churches, often because they are not especially pleasant people); (5) the intrinsically limited appeal and implausibility of the Gospels for most people (limited, even once they have been expounded); and (5) bad timetabling. I think that the last problem is more significant than many suppose. When Sunday trading was liberalised in 1993 there was a revolution in weekend timetables: children quickly disappeared from churches and went shopping or to football, etc. Many churches did not realise what was happening; their ageing congregations had an ossified weekend routine, but the rising generation was soon treating Sunday as a second Saturday. It seems to me that the only spot on Sundays when church faces comparatively little competition is in the ‘dead space’ between 4 PM (when the supermarkets close and people are returning from relations or pub lunches) and 6 PM (when people are readying themselves for the week ahead). Scarcely more than a handful of churches across the country hold all-age services in that slot (cf. Bathford, Southwick in Sussex, Westhampnett, etc.): most are evensongs or ‘messy’ meetings catering to limited demographics; on the very rare occasions when I have encountered genuine all-age services in that slot they have frequently been (though not always) successful, and sometimes highly successful, especially if there is catering. As to buildings, you have been an advocate for widespread ‘rationalisation’; I disagree: that will only ensure that increasing tracts of the country become completely unchurched and would frankly be a breach of trust by a supposedly ‘national’ Church. I would prefer it if pre-1850 establishments were vested in local authorities (or central government), with the Church being guaranteed use for worship gratis, but with costs being covered by other uses and the Church divesting itself of a proportion of its capital to cover maintenance (i.e., partial disendowment to offset the future costs falling to taxpayers/ratepayers, who might otherwise be reluctant to assume the liability in straitened budgetary conditions): in short, a variant of the French solution. Many thanks for your observations (and your blog generally).Delete
Perhaps I can encourage folk to look at all the Church Army reports in the 'Encounters on the Edge' series. These are now all available as free downloads from http://www.churcharmy.org.uk/Groups/244969/Church_Army/Church_Army/Our_work/Research/Encounters_on_the/Encounters_on_the.aspx and also the report 'A case for multiplying the type and number of churches' by George Lings, available at www.churcharmy.org.uk/Publisher/File.aspx?ID=194718 (I do hope these links work ...).ReplyDelete
There doesn't seem to be the same interest in Fresh Expression of Church as there was say 5-10 years ago, but don't statistics like these, and the range of ideas that people have to explain the statistics, suggest that a wide range of expressions of church that move beyond church as "a peculiar sub-culture, practiced in an alien building that most people today don't know what to do in, at an inconvenient time and day" (to quote from Encounters on the Edge no 55) is needed?
One question that I have seen raised in Facebook discussions is about the relationship between theology and growth /decline. Anecdotally evangelical churches are growing, for example. Does anyone know of any proper research on this? I know what my expectations are and so I am wary of confirmation bias without clear data.ReplyDelete
Looking at the 'Healthy Church Handbook' by Robert Warren would give some answers. Remember that the initial selection of 'healthy' churches was based purely on church growth. There wasn't a link found between theology and 'health/growth'. but the 'Seven marks of a healthy church' were found to beDelete
1 Energized by faith
2 Outward-looking focus
3 Seeks to find out what God wants
4 Faces the cost of change and growth
5 Operates as a community
6 Makes room for all
7 Does a few things and does them well
Doesn't seem to be a direct link between any of these and type of theology.
My experience is that marks 2 and 4 are very rare, but perhaps mark 2 is more likely in an evangelical church.
The book 'Healthy Churches Handbook' is well worth a look - and a reasonable amount of it is available online.
Just to say, I'm not the 'Anonymous' who has been visiting huge numbers of churches (see comments 24/10/17 at 7:34 pm and 11:06 pm), but I have moved around the country a fair bit over my life and tried to join at least a dozen churches - which has been a challenge in places ...
You could look at thisDelete
Hi David, I had a think about your comment above about moving away from analysing the statistics towards how the C of E might face the challenges. Interestingly when I started writing, I had no idea that I was going to end up in the place I have done... I've blogged about it here: https://meristemweb.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/where-there-is-no-vision-the-people-perish/ SarahReplyDelete
I've said elsewhere that while obviously the Church of England will want to try to reverse these very long-running trends, there needs to be a Plan B for what happens if they don't succeed, which, on past form, is possible/likely/virtually certain (depending on your application of the ideas of the Revd Thomas Bayes).ReplyDelete
Anonymous---it's a shame that you are anonymous given your acute analysis of the various issues. (Thanks for the flattery but it isn't necessary or appropriate---this is about the evidence, not any individual.) Given that the Diocese of London seems to be an exception, it really would be worth a very careful analysis, parish by parish, of what's going on. This would have to be done in an independent and transparent fashion, starting with comparative granular data and factoring in all possible concomitant information. It's an interesting research project, but would require the cooperation of the diocese, I think, given that the C of E is immune from freedom of information legislation. Unless all the parish-by-parish data is already in the public domain. Once you have that data, then the next step is to determine all the other factors---"churchmanship" is usually quite easy to do from individual parish websites and any analysis would include a table of implied churchmanship so that it could be reworked if there was any dispute. Socioeconomic stuff is important too, though one thing that is more complicated to discern is the actual catchment of individual churches. [For instance, I wonder how many churchgoers in London actually live south of the river---which could even explain why London stays steady while Southwark goes down a bit. Certainly I remember frequent fellow worshippers at St Matthew's Westminster who lived south of the river. [Rowan and Jane Williams!] But my constant plea is for more evidence and less assertion.ReplyDelete
Prof. Silverman: I have posted in the past on Thinking Anglicans under the moniker Froghole, but have become somewhat disheartened with that website and have decided to stop doing so (partly because, in retrospect, some of my remarks were maladroit). I have no formal association with the Church (or any church) and work in the IT sector. Although the primary function of my pilgrimage has been worship, it has also been a topographical and historical tour, and a church can often be a useful shorthand for getting to know the wider geographical and social parish. It has certainly been a good way of getting to know the country and its socio-economic variables/problems. In a sense I have been undertaking just the sort of parish by parish analysis that you describe.Delete
You mention London; actually, I have found London one of the most disconcerting areas I have investigated - disconcerting because once some exceptions are stripped away the picture is as bad as anywhere else, and sometimes worse (I have attended services in every part of Greater London). The London diocese is essentially coterminous with the pre-1889 Middlesex. If I were to sum it up, it would be: (i) some of the fringe parishes (e.g., the likes of Ruislip, Monken Hadley, Harefield, etc., are doing fairly well, chiefly because their demographics have not changed too radically; (ii) the bulk of the outer suburbs have had a truly dramatic demographic transformation, and the Church has effectively collapsed in places like Edgware, Harlington, Feltham, etc., with collapse not occurring in those places where the demographic transformation has been delayed or frustrated by house prices (compare, say, Isleworth with nearby Hounslow); (iii) within the inner boroughs the picture is very mixed: weak parishes subsist cheek by jowl with quite strong ones, with strength often mirroring gentrification; (iv) those affluent inner boroughs that have seen the greatest impact from HTB or Bishopsgate (Shadwell, Hammersmith, etc. - but compare, say, a plant like Hoxton with the bleak prospects for nearby Shoreditch); and (v) the City, which is sui generis, but where many churches are really quite weak and the likes of Bishopsgate (and its satellites), St Botolphs Aldersgate and, quite differently, St Botolphs Bishopsgate, skew the numbers.
There is also the East End (with its long northward tail stretching up the Lea valley - absent Hornsey): there collapse is largely complete, but mirrors cultural/racial demographics: when I went to Little Ilford (though in Chelmsford) I was told quite candidly, that they only keep the church going in order to show the flag. Are things really different in those parts of Greater London within the Chelmsford, Guildford, Rochester and Southwark dioceses? Not really; the only difference is HTB/Bishopsgate (and churches of a similar stamp, such as Islington or Queen's Square).
So your analyses (and that of Mr Keen) are dead on the mark.
Not the sort of evidence you were asking about, but some insights none-the-less, can be found in Bishop Richard Chartres (recently retired Bishop of London) Lambeth Lecture of 30 September 2015. This can be found at http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5621/bishop-of-london-delivers-lambeth-lecture-on-church-growth-in-the-capital
It is a long lecture (!), but well worth a read. It shows the years that have led to the current situation in the Diocese of London. Leadership over twenty years or so has been vital. How many other bishops stay in one post for that long?
Hope this helps the debate ...
Greetings from the Anglican Church of Canada, where some of us watch the CofE's research capacity with interest and envy. I think parish by parish analysis is exactly what needs to happen - and fortunately the data exists - even if it is not in the public domain. I really hope the research and statistics unit, or the diocese of London, is onto this one. "Another capital idea" made some suggestions about why London was growing. Things have moved on since then and there may be evidence about Fresh expressions, Messy church, etc as well as theories about immigration, theological basis and London's capacity to attract clergy. Another capital idea broke the diocese down by deanery, but a parish by parish analysis would be more revealing. Of course it might be inconvenient to current models of growth....Delete
4 people of one of the areas with c11% decline were our family of 4. Our 12 year old (y8) was told she could no longer attend the 'adult part' of the service and needed to go back with the primary aged children. No discussion before or after, no mediation, no care. The bit that sticks in my head was when we said that she would leave, someone said, 'We will not be emotionally blackmailed'. Two other families with younger children left too, but we're going somewhere else, and they're not going anywhere.ReplyDelete
On the serious decline in children's attendance in Truro, I arrived in the diocese in 2018 and noticed a major collapse in the number of children attending in all my three parishies except the one that started a teatime family service in this period, but even there the children's percentage of Sunday attendance rose slightly but the October attendance continued a dramatic fall. I had put this down to my predecessor in two of the parishes including children from the church school until she was told not to in 2013/14. Looking at the service registers attendance has stayed constant over the last 20 years so I cant find any evidence of the statistical children we have lost. I wonder if the extent of the Truro decline is due to some sort of error/deceit/mistake like this - if it is the result of the correction of a systemic misreporting?ReplyDelete