EIGHTEEN months ago, three research teams were commissioned by
the Archbishops to explore growth in the Church of England. The
report, From Anecdote to Evidence, was launched on 16
January. Here are the headlines:
1. The Church is losing young people
Just 2.2 per cent of people aged 16-19 attend monthly or
more often. This falls to 1.4 per cent among those aged 20-24.
Affiliation statistics are slightly higher (8.2 per cent and 7.6
per cent respectively).
2. Parents do not prioritise passing on their
When presented with a list of "qualities that children
can be encouraged to learn at home", and asked to select what they
considered to be "especially important", just 11 per cent of
Anglicans selected religious faith.
3. Decline is not uniform, and there is no single recipe
In the decade up to 2010, 27 per cent of churches
declined, 55 per cent remained stable, and 18 per cent grew. While
there is no "single recipe" for growth, there are a number of
"ingredients" that are associated with growth and can be applied in
4. Cathedrals are growing
Weekly attendance at cathedrals grew by 35 per cent
between 2002 and 2012, while weekday attendance more than
5. Leadership is critical
A survey of clergy found a strong correlation between
those clergy who prioritise numerical growth and those clergy whose
churches grew in numbers.
6. Good-quality lay leadership is linked to growth
A church where volunteers are involved in leadership, and
where tasks are rotated regularly, is much more likely to be
growing, especially where younger members and new members are
7. Fresh Expressions are working
A study of ten dioceses found that about 21,000 people
attended a Fresh Expression - the numerical equivalent of a new,
medium-sized diocese. Research suggests that 40 per cent of those
attending are non-churched.
8. Growing churches are often found in cities
While attendance as a proportion of the population is
often highest in rural areas, growth is hard to achieve here.
Growth is often found in cities, where relatively few people are
9. Success is not a function of churchmanship or worship
Self-reported growth is associated with Evangelical,
conservative, and Charismatic tendencies. Yet Professor David Voas,
who led one of the research teams, found that "controlling for
other characteristics nearly always reduces churchmanship to
10. Amalgamations are strongly associated with
A single church with one leader is more likely to grow
than churches grouped together. The more churches amalgamate
together, the more the risk of decline increases.