Thinking Anglicans

Statistics for Mission 2018

Updated Friday morning to add some press reports
Updated Monday morning to add link to diocesan tables

The Church of England has published two sets of statistics today.

There is an accompanying press release, Church engages millions through apps and social media, which concentrates on the digital report. It is copied below the fold.

Update: Detailed Diocesan tables (excel file) are now available.

Press reports

Church Times Enquirers’ courses are attended mainly by churchgoers, statistics suggest

Telegraph Church of England’s prayer apps used a record five million times, while attendance figures fall

Christian Today Church of England’s digital reach grows as service attendance continues to fall

Church engages millions through apps and social media
17/10/2019

Church of England prayer apps were used more than five million times over the last year as a record number of people sought Christian contemplation and reflection online, according to new figures published today.

Apps allowing users to pray the ancient ‘Daily Office’ of morning, evening and night prayer were used 4.2 million times on Apple devices alone in the last 12 months, an increase of 446,000 on the year before, new figures show.

The figures do not include other social media prayers, reflections and posts by the Church of England, which now have an average reach of 3.6 million every month, an increase on 2018.

The digital figures were published alongside the Church of England’s Statistics for Mission 2018 showing that 4,400 churches – more than a third of those responding – run courses teaching the basics of the Christian faith.

These included the Pilgrim course, launched in 2013, and the Alpha course which introduces participants to the Christian faith through a series of talks and discussions.

The figures showed 3,200 churches reported running activities such as youth groups or youth-focused services for children and teenagers aged between 11 and 17 years old.

The statistics showed 1.12 million regular worshippers at Church of England churches in 2018.

There were nearly eight million attendances at Church of England Christmas and Advent services combined in 2018, including special services for civic organisations, schools and local communities. The Church’s reach on social media throughout Advent and Christmas 2018 with the #FollowTheStar campaign was 7.94 million – up by 1.14 million from 2017.

On average, 871,000 people attended Church of England services and acts of worship each week, 2.6% lower than in 2017. A further 175,000 people attended services for schools in Church of England churches.

Other figures from the digital report show that AChurchNearYou.com, the church finding website, received more than 38 million page views in the last 12 months, a big increase on the year before.

Since launching in May 2018, the Church of England’s Alexa skill has been asked more than 100,000 questions by Christians and people exploring the faith.

The Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, said: “The digital figures show how people are using apps, smart speakers and social media to explore and engage in the Christian faith wherever they might be.

“Christians have been praying the morning and evening offices for centuries and it is inspiring that this is available through new platforms and devices to meet the way people live now.

“The significant uplift in visits to AChurchNearYou.com is showing the interest people have in attending churches for weddings, christenings, funerals, services and when travelling.

“The Church’s digital innovation is enabling people to hear the good news of Jesus Christ in ways that weren’t previously possible alongside regular Sunday worship and at significant moments such as Christmas and Easter.

“It is also really striking just how many churches are running courses in the basics of Christianity. This shows a readiness to explore the Christian faith.”

The Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, one of the founders of the Pilgrim course, said: “Questions about life and faith are as deep as they ever were. There is a huge appetite to learn and explore. Our churches are welcoming people in, offering courses that make no assumption about what people already know about the Christian faith.

“The sheer number of courses run by churches is a sign of how much people want to explore the big questions about the meaning and purpose of life. We are called to be a deeper church: a church that can help reshape the world.”

Notes

Read the 2019 digital report.

Read Statistics for Mission 2018.

A blog by the Bishop of Oxford can be read here.

Pilgrim: A Course for the Christian Journey was the first discipleship course to be commissioned by the Church of England’s House of Bishops. It was published by Church House Publishing between 2013 and 2015. Material from The Pilgrim Way (a short guide to the Christian Faith) and #LentPilgrim and #EasterPilgrim have been included in recent digital campaigns including the Church of England’s Alexa skill.

Details of all the Church of England’s apps for worship – produced by Church House Publishing in partnership Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd and developed by Aimer Media – can be found on the Church House Publishing website.

The apps are used both individually and as part of corporate worship.

The Church of England prayer apps include Daily Prayer, Time To Pray, Reflections for Daily Prayer, Reflections on the Psalms, Daily Prayer for Thy Kingdom Come, and Lectionary.

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Robert Ian WilliamsSusannah ClarkMark HartRod GillisJo B Recent comment authors
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Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

This reports the use of 21st Century technology but in terms of its fundamental paradigms the Church is still asserting 16th Century reformation views on the nature of the Bible. Outcome: loss of credibility and 871,000 people attending Church of England services and acts of worship each week, 2.6% lower than in 2017. This alienation of populace from the Church has been going on since the Enlightenment, because the way the Church says the Bible should be read and interpreted runs into the buffers of modern critical technique, rational scientific perspectives on… human origins, sexuality, treatment of myth, social values,… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Spot on, Susannah. I’ll be cast into eternal darkness for this, but – Jack Spong is a prophet. Trouble is, I don’t think anything we do will change much: we have to let events work themselves out. No religion lasts for ever.

Robert Ellis
Guest
Robert Ellis

Well we can all have a crack at doing something about it……27th October is Bible Sunday in the C of E so a good opportunity to trail our coat and do some intelligent teaching. The first essay I had to write at Kings College London was “What is the authority of the Bible”….Mr Peake was a great help but I would write a very different essay now….very different indeed!

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

Sunday’s OT lection – Genesis 32. 22-31 – in which Jacob is described as “wrestling” with God is an opportunity not to be missed to teach on the need each of us has to “wrestle” with the scriptures, to allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and our ears to what God is trying to tell us today, much of which is communicated to us *by* society.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

God gave us conscience, and God dwells within us, speaking to our consciences. The challenge is: are we ready to open our hearts to the flow of God’s love? The flowing stream of God’s love – likened by Jesus, we are told, to streams of living water – may speak to us through our reading and reflection on the Bible (as we open our hearts and minds to God in person)… and through people we love and care for… and through the challenge to open to compassion when we encounter an ‘outsider’ in desperate need… The flow of God’s love… Read more »

FrDavid H
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FrDavid H

I’m convinced if the views of Bishop Spong had become more mainstream more outsiders would view the Church’s beliefs as being more credible and less ridiculous. Similarly a Church leader as distinguished as Richard Holloway is renowned for speaking the language of our age but is ostracised for doing so. I’m saddened such teachers have been replaced in favour of Messy Church and planting Alpha churches as an antidote to secularism.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Yes indeed, Fr DH, but it’s not surprising that this is so. It’s the easy option – cowardice, retreating into the rut of the familiar, the complacent, the Sunday School pap of Jesus wants me for a sunbeam. Himself was quite clear in telling us to cast out into the deep, and yet here we are staying in shallow waters with yet more infantilisation, encouraging people to think that it’s the job of a sky pixie to – for example – cure people of the consequences of their cumulative idiocies. And – a hobby horse of mine – there are… Read more »

Wm. Bill Paul
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Wm. Bill Paul

https://anglicanecumenicalsociety.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/bishop-spong-and-archbishop-williamss-response/

Fwiw.

There are far better choices, and lots of them, to help Christianity deal with modernity.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

W.P. Paul, thanks for the helpful link. The info is older; but it illustrates that Bishop Spong is a populariser. He is no match, as a theologian, for Archbishop Rowan Williams’ erudition: nor is Williams’ successor.

Wm. Bill Paul
Guest
Wm. Bill Paul

“Popularised” is very kind, polite, but maybe misleading description. +RW saying something else I think. 🙂

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Bill, see my comment below re: Bultmann begets Spong. Popularizing sophisticated ideas from pivotal thinkers is the essence of ‘pop’ theology, hence Spong. The following statement on Spong from biblical scholar Raymond Brown is of note: ” I hope I am not ungracious if in return I remark that I do not think a single NT author would recognize Spong’s Jesus as the figure being proclaimed or written about.” (Brown. The Birth of the Messiah (Updated Edition). Supplement Appendix IV, n.321, p. 704).

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

Yes, I don’t think retreating into wooliness is a way forward. Spong and Holloway appeal to former believers who want to still hold on to something, and that’s fine, but to pretend that Christianity without Christ offers anything either to the existing faithful or to the mass of unchurched folk is absurd.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Spong is basically a more populist riff on the work of Rudolph Bultmann i.e. using one’s own culture as ultimate horizon, replace the message of the NT with something it isn’t. Richard Holloway, by his own account in interviews, resigned from church leadership when he recognized his position was no longer politically tenable. He was right to do so. Agnostic church leaders are confused–and confusing for believer and non-believer alike. However, Spong and Holloway are both human/civil rights advocates. So even though their respective theological frameworks are inadequate, their articulate personal social advocacy contributes to a critical judgement of an… Read more »

FrDavid H
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FrDavid H

I see nowhere in the writings of Spong and Holloway where Christianity without Christ is advocated.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Me neither FrDH. I read a fairly wide variety of theologians. I’m particulary interested in Russians, Lancelot Andrewes and Ratzinger. I like Yancey. That doesn’t mean I accept their every pronouncement, but rather that I find things that stimulate me in some way. It is so with Spong too. He may overstate his views to make a point, I don’t know, but that’s common enough these days, and I do it myself on occasion. Spong certainly has the ability to speak in language that nonspecialists are likely to understand. What I find difficult to take are blanket condemnations, the rush… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“Spong certainly has the ability to speak in language that nonspecialists are likely to understand.” Probably because he is a non-specialist himself whose own understanding of things are open to critique. Brown’s criticism of him is that Spong does not do what specialists attempt to do, i.e. consider the evidence, in this case the data of the NT, according to historical criteria. Scientific investigation differs in method from historical investigation. Moving on to Christian doctrine, if it is so that Jesus is the Christ, he is the Christ of God. However, if one is ‘post theistic’ then there can be… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

See my reply above to Bill Paul re: Brown on Spong. ‘Christ’ is a Christological title that both men make a point of rejecting for Jesus. Last I saw, Spong described himself as ‘post theistic’ and Holloway described himself as ‘post religious” and a ‘Christian agnostic’. Why not take them at their word? Of the two, I do find Holloway the more interesting, certainly in interviews. He is much more original about his confusion, and appears gifted at living with massive ambiguity. Strikes me as guy whose mind has moved on but whose heart is still sometime in the holy… Read more »

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

Please. Spong denies both the atonement and the resurrection and, if I understand him, the incarnation too. Whatever Jesus is left is solely a human Rabbi. Nice to have, but not the Christ.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

The dominant Christian assertion is that Jesus is God. Otherwise we might join the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Islam (by which I mean no disrespect to them for their own fidelities). I believe Jesus is God because of encounter. Because of relationship through faith. Because of the insights of the reported teachings we’ve been left. And I find the Trinity, and everything it says about community and mutual givenness and sharing consciousness, hugely helpful and convincing too. And then I just wait because I don’t really know where it all leads. I have to wait for God to come, in grace,… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
Guest
Bernard Silverman

The crucial charts and tables are those which continue longitudinal series which have been going for a long time. The figures for Sunday attendance (especially children), and for baptisms, weddings and funerals, present a picture not wholly reflected in the press release. The order in which the report presents the various statistics is also interesting. One would normally expect the established long term figures first.

Paul Waddington
Guest
Paul Waddington

That is what is called spin!

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Spot on. One problem with the emphasis on “growth” is that not enough attention/research is focussed on “ordinary” parishes which may be stable or in slow decline, and the qualities and strategies which are proving successful in changing the pattern, so that there is a true comparison between comparable contexts which have different histories. I think that most of the decline over the last 20 years locally to me (perhaps as much as 80%) is down to what might be called “critical incidents”, some of which may have been avoidable, but no one has done the analysis, identified the incidents… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Always assuming it isn’t an artefact of recording, just glancing at the charts for the various dioceses comparing Christmas, Easter and USA, Worshipping community, etc. seems to bear out a common observation in the parishes that people are coming less frequently to church, in that for most dioceses the ‘worshipping community’ line is declining less steeply (or not at all) over time than the usual Sunday attendance etc.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Just to clarify my meaning of ‘people are coming less frequently’ meaning ‘people who come to church are coming less frequently’ i.e. members of the congregation.

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

I could only bring myself to watch one of the Alpha Course videos, I thought it was drivel. Nicky Gumbel told us that when he was at Kings College Cambridge he fancied going to a party in London but had no means of transportation (train?) so he prayed about it and the next thing someone banged on his door asking if he fancied a lift to London! Nicky told us that he ticked this off in his prayer diary as a prayer answered by God. I had lots of problems with his theology, but most of all I hoped that… Read more »

Sam Jones
Guest
Sam Jones

It would be interesting to see a breakdown of church attendance by age. My guess is that a high percentage of church attenders are over 65. If so the decline is likely to accelerate as these people die without being replaced.

Helen King
Guest
Helen King

In my diocese, we were told the average age of those attending is 62. It’s one of the few situations in which I am technically a ‘young one’. Recent slight growth in the congregation is due to new over-55s housing opposite the church so I suspect we are getting older rather than younger, if you see what I mean!

Paul Waddington
Guest
Paul Waddington

I have lived opposite a church in a smallish village. I take an interest in the size and age of the people going in and out on a Sunday. Over 26 years, the congregation has dwindled from about 35 to about 18. Twenty six years ago, I would have said that 80% were over 65. That means that those 80% (or 28 in number) should now be either dead or very elderly. Now, although fewer in number, the composition is about the same – 80% over 65. So it seems that the Church of England has an uncanny ability to… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
Guest
Bernard Silverman

Not necessarily a particular ability to attract pensioners, though Paul’s overall projection is absolutely in line with what the figures suggest. The same sort of phenomenon would be explained by each age cohort having a smaller proportion of church attenders. As time goes on and the cohorts get older, the proportion of attenders over 65 (say) would remain the same, but the total number will go down.

Mark Hart
Guest
Mark Hart

I tried to argue here that the C of E may well attract older adults to keep the over 65 numbers up: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2017/31-march/comment/opinion/the-c-of-e-s-unsung-success-story

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

The impression from my own parish is that a small number of additional older people do start attending if kindness and welcome (and ideally plenty of tea and cakes) are offered. I think that as some older people’s social circles diminish, loneliness and loss of social interaction can make the church attractive, if they find kindness and welcome (and sometimes assistance getting to church).

This may not seem like huge Christian commitment or recruitment, but nevertheless I think it’s lovely.

Mary Hancock
Guest
Mary Hancock

I suspect many clergy and others who say the daily offices now use the app (as I do) in preference to the Common Worship Daily Prayer book – it’s just more convenient. Increased downloading of the app doesn’t necessarily mean that more people are saying the daily offices. Unless it is backed up by specific surveys, all these data tell you is how many people are downloading (and probably using) the app.

Guest
Guest
Guest

I wonder whether Steven Croft’s prominence in the C of E’s national spin on its latest church attendance decline has anything to do with rumours swirling around his diocesan high command that he’s keenly in line to be the next Archbishop of York? Croft has also recently acted swiftly to orchestrate a public statement backing Welby and the other Bishops’ pro-Brexit statement, and follows the C of E’s shameful approach on IICSA and the horrors it and incredibly courageous victims have revealed.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Continuing decline. No surprise. A whiff here and there of “Walter Mitty dressing up” to disguise truth. My church and crem-only funerals have dried up, and I’d like to know stats for crem-only funerals by civil celebrants and undertakers (I know, this is not church business). I’ve been admonished before for saying this, but in my experience and that of colleagues I’ve spoken to, there’s a good bit of fiction in the recording – almost always overestimates. People forget to note numbers, can’t be bothered to count (numbers in a candle-lit carol service? You must be joking). School services –… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Who was it who said , there are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics?