Comments: opinion

Norman Ivison cites the key fact: "29% of the ‘worshipping community’ are 70 or over".

With two of my other hats on, I often get involved in arguments about the role technology has in daily tasks. Whenever there is a claim that something is difficult for "old people" I attempt to unpick whether they are talking about generations or age; it is undeniably the case that usage of computers is lower amongst the over-70s than the under-20s, but unless you believe that people will suddenly return to Basildon Bond and cheques upon turning 65, the point is not that someone is 75, but that they were born in 1939 and went to school immediately after the war. It's not a serious proposition to claim that in thirty years' time current fifty year olds will have reverted to the views and uptake of technology of their eighty year old parents.

But for the CofE it's not so obvious: will people grow into church going (ie, is it about age?), or will people who don't attend church aged 40 still not be attending church when they are 70 (ie, is it about generation?) Symphony Orchestras attempted to pretend that it was about age, and that people born 1950 would grow out of all that nasty beat music; a glance at the audience at a Bruce Springsteen concert (mostly over fifty but a significant smattering of younger people) and at a performance of Shostakovich's fifth symphony (heavily dominated by those over seventy) says it's about generation. The church is still betting on it being age. I suspect it's generation. Time will, quite shortly, tell.

Posted by Interested Observer at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 7:16pm GMT

I've done a breakdown of the adult attendance stats by Diocese as well:

Posted by David Keen at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 8:47pm GMT

"Angela Denker Sojourners: 3 Ways ‘All Are Welcome’ Is Hurting the Church"

You know who's NOT welcomed by Angela Denker/Sojourners? Those who have made the (perfectionally rational) decision to NOT use (be abused by) Facebook!

While I can agree that congregations ought to "discern a clear and specific mission to where Jesus is calling them to act", I sincerely doubt that Jesus meant 'Zuckerbook' (money-changer of on-line identities).

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 10:13pm GMT

What a piece of sycophantic clap trap from the Spectator. 'No one has condemned homophobia more effectively than Justin Welby.' Really? I wonder which planet the writer lives on.

Posted by Disgraced at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 11:27am GMT

David Keen writes:

"The figures for childrens attendance, which I'll do if there's popular demand, are less encouraging, with a big drop in 2012-13, and a faster rate of decline overall."

There is another demographic timebomb that the church faces. The peak year for births in the UK was 1964. After that, a combination of factors (legal abortion, more readily available and effective contraception, different attitudes to work and education amongst women born after the war) meant that the total fertility rate, the number of children the average woman has, dropped from about 2.9 to 1.6 over thirty years. The birth rate in absolute numbers held up, because from 1970 to about 1995 women born 1950 to 1965 were having children, and although they didn't have as many children as their mothers, there were a lot of them. After 1995 the birthrate in absolute numbers dropped like a stone, because the post 1964 drop in the number of women born combined with the 1964 drop in the rate at which women had children.

There are currently only 4 10 year olds for every 5 20 year olds.

However, that's the numbers which have been softened (or some other word) by the larger family sizes amongst immigrant communities. The underlying trend in TFR continues to fall amongst the CofE's natural constituency, and outside cities with large immigrant populations the number of young people is falling, and will fall more rapidly over the next ten to twenty years.

Universities, for example, are planning for this: to maintain existing numbers over the next ten years requires at least a 20% increase in take up, and given other demographic changes the likelihood of (for example) English and History departments not experiencing rapid drops in admissions are low.

Posted by Interested Observer at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 12:49pm GMT


I suspect it's a mix of age and generation. Generation because, yes, people born after about 1970 (on both sides of the pond) are less likely to have ever gone to church.

But, even among those, there will be a significant number who wish to have their children have SOME kind of religious upbringing (if only to keep the grandparents happy) and will come to church while their kids are in the elementary grades. Some will stay after that. So as the post-1970 cohort ages, some of them will come back to church and some smaller number will stay.

Whether the children of those returnees will be around as adults is another matter.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 5:38pm GMT
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