CHURCHGOING in London is on
the increase, research suggests, owing mainly to a rapid expansion
of churches based on ethnic groups, and a rise in worshippers at
the capital's larger churches.
The London Church Census,
commissioned by London City Mission, and carried out by Brierley
Consultancy last October, found that attendances had risen by 16
per cent since 2005, and that 720,000 people now went to church on
a Sunday. Women accounted for much of the increase: on average, for
every new male worshipper, there were five new women.
The growth is largely
attributed to ethnic diversity. Two new churches opened in London
every week between 2005 and 2012; two-thirds of these were
Pentecostal black-majority churches. One third catered for a
particular language or ethnic group. In the inner-city boroughs of
Southwark and Lambeth, where Pentecostalists are concentrated,
attendance increased by more than 50 per cent (
News, 28 June).
The number of Pentecostal
churchgoers across London (32 per cent) has overtaken Roman
Catholics (27 per cent) for the first time; and there are now 1450
The survey also found that
more than half (54 per cent) of all worshippers attended churches
with congregations exceeding 200 on a Sunday. The 140 largest, each
attended by more than 800 people, encompassed 12 per cent of all
the city's churchgoers.
The make-up of those
churches has changed. In 1989, many were Roman Catholic, but by
last year only two-thirds were. They now include black Pentecostal
churches, and Anglican churches such as Holy Trinity, Brompton; All
Souls', Langham Place; and St Helen's, Bishopsgate.
Larger churches also attract
younger worshippers. About six per cent of people in their 20s go
to church in London - twice the number in the rest of England - and
two-thirds attend larger churches. In general, the larger the
church, the smaller the proportion of worshippers aged 45 or
The mission director of the
inter-denominational group Crossing London, Andy Frost, said: "We
are very encouraged to see from this census that many hundreds of
thousands of people still consider 'churchgoing' as an important
part of their lives.
"While some models of
'church' and congregations might be changing as our culture
changes, it remains vital for Christians to worship together, to
share experiences, and to support each other in their faith."