A "MISSING generation" of young people has grown up outside the
Church, with only 11 per cent of regular churchgoers aged between
25 and 34, a new report by the Church Army suggests.
The greatest losses in attendance each year are among teenagers
and those in their 20s; but some churches, particularly those
involved in Fresh Expressions, are bucking the trend, the Church
The report, Authentic Faith: Fresh expressions of church
amongst young adults, says that some churches are
successfully connecting with this generation.
Some of these were traditional churches - often larger ones,
which offered more contemporary worship, and were frequently
situated in areas with high student populations. The people they
attracted tended to be "middle-class, well-educated young adults
who previously attended church as children", the author of the
report, Beth Keith, said.
The other group of churches that had connected successfully with
this generation were fresh expressions of church, where the
community was often based around a dining-table rather than in a
The report says: "Churches managing to reach young adults with
no previous church experience - and from a broader socio-economic
background - will more often see their young adults meeting around
a dining table than in a church building, because the getting
together for a meal is very important in creating community."
Ms Keith said: "This second group exhibit very different traits
and practices; these are churches where eating together is the new
'Sunday service'. For these small communities, access to . . .
large vicarages, and community houses, can make a crucial
difference to their growth and sustainability.
"Young adults attending these types of churches may struggle to
make the leap to more traditional forms of church as they get
older. This suggests that the determining factor here is not their
age, or life-stage, and that these new forms of church will
continue to grow. . .
"The recognition of these small sacramental communities as
church is vital, both for the sustainability of these fledgling
churches and for the building up of the wider Church."
The report calls on the Church to release empty parsonages to
fresh expression groups in order to help them to thrive and