19 January 2012
The latest local church attendance figures from the Church of
England for 2010 show that approaching 1.7 million people continue
to attend Church of England services each month, and around 1.1
million attend one of the Church of England's 16,000 churches as
part of a typical week.
The figures additionally highlight for the first time the
results of innovative Church initiatives, such as the ecumenical Fresh
Expressions movement and the Archbishops' Council's Weddings
Following extensive work by the Weddings Project and the introduction of the
2008 Marriage Measure, marriages in the Church of
England increased by four per cent in 2010.
Across all dioceses the statistics reveal at least 1,000 fresh
expressions and new forms of church, linked to the Church of
England, reaching into communities. There are an estimated 1,000
fresh expressions within the Methodist Church.
The full statistics are available online, in the
Average Sunday attendance dropped two per cent to 923,700 (2009:
944,400). Average weekly attendance at 1,116,100 (2009: 1,130,600)
was down by somewhat less, indicating a continuing shift in
patterns of church attendance. Average monthly attendance was
1,645,500 (2009: 1,650,600). The average number of children and
young people at services each week was down two per cent at 218,600
(2009: 223,000); while the number of children and young people
attending on a monthly basis was fractionally up at 437,700 (2009:
Marking life events
Marriages in the Church of England increased by four per cent in
2010 to 54,700 compared to 52,730 in 2009, the biggest increase in
any one year over the last 10 years; services of prayer and
dedication also rose by two per cent to 4,020, up from 3,940.
Child baptisms increased one per cent to 43,850 in 2010, up from
43,480 in 2009; adult baptisms rose one per cent to 11,160 in 2010,
up from 11,010; while infant baptisms decreased by one per cent to
83,260, down from 83,820 in 2009.
Funerals in church and crematorium were down two per cent and
four per cent respectively.
The first ever statistical analysis of the Fresh Expressions
movement has concluded that there are at least 1,000 CofE fresh
expressions of church or new congregations across the country.
These aim to provide new forms of church which are different in
ethos and style from the church which planted them because they are
designed to reach a different group of people than those already
attending the original church. The emphasis is on planting
something which is appropriate to its context rather than cloning
something which works elsewhere.
Around 30,000 people attend fresh expressions each month who
don't attend traditional regular services, equating to an average
of around 40 people per participating parish exploring new forms of
church - the statistical equivalent of an additional diocese. These
30,000 are included in the average weekly and monthly statistics.
Almost all dioceses have reported fresh expressions or new
congregations with over half of these initiatives aimed at families
with young children. More information on fresh expressions of
church is available on the Church of England website as a
As a result of poor weather conditions and many cancelled
services, all-age attendance at Christmas Eve/Day services in 2010
dropped by five per cent to 2,298,400; all-age attendance on Easter
Day dropped by one per cent to 1,394,700.
Nine in 10 Church of England parish churches completed
attendance counts, which have been verified across all 16,000
Church of England churches by the Research and Statistics
Department of the Archbishops' Council.
Tables including the above figures and a breakdown by diocese,
along with the Powerpoint on Fresh Expressions, are available online.
Fresh Expressions is an ecumenical movement to
nurture contemporary forms of church life alongside traditional
ones. Fresh expressions of church are being formed in a variety of
ways, with new communities reaching people such as clubbers,
artists and students.
Definition of terms
Average Sunday attendance: the average number of
attendees at Sunday church services, typically over a four-week
period in October.
Average weekly attendance: the average number of
attendees at church services throughout the week, typically over a
four-week period in October.
Each of the above measures is provided separately for adults and
children/young people aged under 16 years. The highest and lowest
counts over the four-week period are calculated as follows:
Highest Sunday/weekly attendance: the sum of the
highest Sunday (weekly) attendances over the four-week period. The
'highest' figures on the accompanying tables are proxies (in fact
under-estimates) for monthly attendance levels.
Lowest Sunday/weekly attendance: the sum of the lowest
Sunday (weekly) attendances over the four-week period.
Attendance figures are only included where local churches held
at least one church-based service (which included adult presence)
during the week under examination.
The traditional usual Sunday attendance (uSa) measure
is interpreted differently across the dioceses and is therefore not
regarded as statistically accurate as a comparison.