ONLY one quarter of Anglicans who responded to a Church
Times survey are in the habit of inviting people to
Just 27 per cent of laypeople responding to a questionnaire
agreed with the proposition: "I often invite other people to come
to my church"; 56 per cent disagreed. Six per cent agreed with the
proposition: "I would never invite anyone to come to my
Despite this, lay people continue to be optimistic about church
growth: 40 per cent believed that their church would grow in the
next 12 months; 42 per cent were uncertain, and only 18 per cent
said that it would not.
Recent figures (News,
17 January) suggest, however, that only 18 per cent of C of E
churches are growing.
These are the first results to come from the Church
Times survey, conducted last summer and autumn in
collaboration with the Revd Professor Leslie Francis, of the
Warwick Religions and Education Unit, and Dr Andrew Village, Reader
in Practical and Empirical Theology at York St John University.
Morethan 4500 responses have been processed.
The clergy, naturally enough, came out as more active
evangelists. More than half, 53 per cent, often invited people to
church, although 33 per cent admitted that they did not.
Four per cent of clergy respondents said that they would never
invite anyone to their church (the survey attracted responses from
retired clerics as well as incumbents). Half the clergy respondents
expected their church to grow in the next 12 months.
They were less sanguine about the experience of newcomers,
however. One quarter of the clergy agreed with the proposition: "It
is not easy for newcomers in my church"; 52 per cent disagreed. For
the laity, the figures were 19 per cent and 57 per cent.
One reason not to invite people was the nature of the services.
Eight per cent across the board said that Sunday worship in their
church was "usually boring". Another nine per cent were "not
On the other hand, 74 per cent of laity and 76 per cent of
clergy felt that congregation members "cared deeply for one
Those who responded were committed churchgoers. A total of 41
per cent of the laity agreed with the statement: "I am going to my
church more regularly". Only 13 per cent admitted to going less
There were indications that congregations are not feeling
overstretched. Only 12 per cent agreed that the Church was making
too many demands on their time. Only eight per cent thought it made
too many demands on their money.
The clergy had a similar view about money, but registered
greater time pressure. One fifth, 21 per cent, agreed that: "My
church makes too many demands on my time."