Thinking Anglicans

Provisional attendance figures for 2010 released

The Church of England has released its provisional attendance figures for 2010. The press release (copied below) gives a summary of the figures, and links to the full figures.

Provisional attendance figures for 2010 released – marriages up four per cent, national ‘mapping’ identifies at least 1,000 fresh expressions of church
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 Project.

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 Resources sidebar.

continued below the fold

Total attendance

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: 436,200).

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.

Fresh Expressions

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 Powerpoint presentation.

Celebrating festivals

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.

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John B. Chilton
12 years ago

“Average Sunday attendance dropped two per cent”

Let’s put it this way. Keep that up for another 35 years and attendance will be half of what it was in 2009.

Tim Chesterton
12 years ago

Three days and only one comment? Surely this subject is more important that that, isn’t it? More than one commenter on TA has suggested that as the Established Church of England it is the C of E’s responsibility to make sure that it doesn’t get too far away from English society as a whole (eg. in its views of homosexuality). Is it time for the C of E to ask itself whether its continued preference for formal liturgical worship is significantly out of touch with the preferences of English society as a whole? Anyway, surely at some point someone needs… Read more »

David Keen
David Keen
12 years ago

There is a drip drip drip of the same stats every year, and it’s always a small enough drop to be dismissed, never enough to provoke a sense of crisis. It’s frustrating that we find 4 slots at synod to debate women bishops but no time to debate whether there’ll be a church for those bishops to lead in 30 years time.

H. E. Baber
12 years ago

A. N. Wilson got it right: “the modern idea is that religious rites should only be permitted to those prepared to jump through certain intellectual hoops as an entrance requirement. As soon as the churches began to introduce that Visa control, they guaranteed that they would lose millions of adherents.”

Formal liturgical worship is ALL that matters. Ditch the rest–no more sermons, no more teaching, no more moralizing. We laypeople have no interest in what you have to say. Put on the fancy shows we want and we will come.

Laurence C.
Laurence C.
12 years ago

“it’s always a small enough drop to be dismissed, never enough to provoke a sense of crisis.”

There must surely be a sense of crisis in Southwell & Nottingham Diocese – Average Weekly attendance down 13% and Average Sunday attendance down 11% in TWO years.

David Shepherd
12 years ago

The previous comments contain stern, but valid words. Let’s face it, most TA commenters are more interested in single-issue liberal causes, assuming that their populist appeal will automatically reverse those ever-diminishing attendance figures. Normally, the comment is a whinge about the lack of sexual (gender and orientation) diversity in our leadership, followed by the inevitable summary: ‘no wonder people are leaving our church in droves’. Of course, they have no complementary explanation for the popularity of churches that hold an even stricter view on the same issues. The reality is that the C of E lacks the overarching ethos of… Read more »

David Keen
David Keen
12 years ago

There are at least 6 Dioceses who have seen adult attendance fall by 30%+ since 1990, and only one which has seen it grow. I’m in one of those 6, and whilst the decline in membership is noted in debates about Parish Share every year, more time is spent debating how to get parishes to pay up than is spent on how to help them to grow.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
12 years ago

I’m not sure what exactly to make of the figures to be diocese ( Canterbury) is out of kilter with the rest…but usual sunday attendance has risen 18% and average weekly by 17% but average Sunday has fallen 3%! What is really happening?

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