3 million waiting for an invite to church
One in seven adults in the UK attends a Christian church each month, with nearly 3 million more people saying they would attend church if only they were asked, one of the largest surveys of churchgoing in the UK reveals today (3 April 2007).
The findings of the in-depth survey by Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, also show that, contrary to the UK’s secular image, Christianity is still the dominant faith in the UK. Over half (53%) or 26.2 million adults claim to be Christian.
Churchgoing in the UK – one of the few surveys to track monthly church attendance and the likelihood of non churchgoers attending - shows that 7.6 million adults go to church each month and one in 10 adults attends weekly. One in four (12.6 million) attend at least once a year.
Unexpectedly, the survey shows that 3 million people who have stopped going to church or who have never been in their lives, would consider attending given the right invitation.
Dr Elaine Storkey, President of Tearfund, who also lectures in Theology at the University of Oxford, says, “This survey is a valuable contribution to exploring what people in Britain today think about church, why people attend and crucially, what is most likely to encourage people to make a connection with church.”
Matthew Frost, Chief Executive of Tearfund, says “What is clear from this survey is that the UK is holding firmly to the Christian faith. This is a great encouragement to Tearfund - we tackle poverty and injustice in partnership with churches in some of the world’s poorest communities and we could not do it without the volunteers, prayer and money from churches throughout the UK supporting other churches around the world in the fight against poverty.”
Churchgoing in the UK, also reveals that:
- 22% of Londoners attend church each month
- 1 million adults attend ethnic minority Christian churches.
- 48% of adults of black ethnic origin attend church monthly.
- Other faiths account for 6% of religious attendance.
- 66% of the population still have no connection with church
Writing in a foreword to the report, Rev Dr Stephen Croft, the Archbishops’ Missioner and leader of Fresh Expressions, says, “There is significant encouragement for churches in this Tearfund research. A very substantial part of the population in the UK still attend church regularly or occasionally during the year. Christians are not (as yet) the tiny minority that some would suggest. This statistic alone has major implications not only for the churches but for public debate and public policy.”
Dr Croft says the report highlights a clear opportunity for churches to attract new members by tapping into the nearly 3 million (6% of UK adults) who are likely to go to church in future. The survey revealed that a personal invite, family or a friend attending or difficult personal circumstances, are most likely to encourage people into church.