Thinking Anglicans

Statistics for Mission 2019

Updated Wednesday

The Church of England has published its Statistics for Mission 2019 and its 2020 digital report today.

Statistics for Mission provides the latest figures including:

  • Attendance at Church of England services
  • Baptisms
  • Marriages
  • Funerals
  • Youth provision
  • Enquiry and Christian basics courses

Detailed Diocesan tables (excel file) are also available.

There is a press release which concentrates on the digital report; it is copied below.

Update

David Keen has analysed the statistics: Last Chance To See…… Church of England Membership and Attendance Stats 2019. Do read what he has to say; it is very good.

Press release

More than 17,000 online services and events provided by Church of England parishes
12/10/2020

More than 17,000 online services and events are being provided by Church of England churches following the introduction of the lockdown and restrictions on public worship earlier this year, according to a new report published today.

Figures from the Church of England’s A Church Near You website, which allows people to search for church services and events, show that more than 17,000 online services or events are now listed, including Sunday Communion services, Bible studies and morning or night prayer. Many of these services take place regularly and this figure represents a snapshot of the likely total number.

The statistics do not include the Church of England’s national online weekly services broadcast on Sundays and shared on Facebook and YouTube.

There have been nearly three million views of the national online services and posts about the weekly broadcasts have been seen 23.6 million times. Contributors have included the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Duke of Cambridge and Pope Francis.

The national online services are being watched by a wide range of ages and around one in five people viewing go to church infrequently or not at all.

Other figures in the report show that official Church of England apps from Church House Publishing – the most popular being Daily Prayer, or the Daily Office of morning, evening and night prayer – have been used more than seven million times so far this year, up from five million in 2019. Church of England social media posts have been seen 86 million times so far, nearly double the total for last year.

The growth in online services has been helped by the Church of England stepping up its digital training programme for congregations. More than 4,200 vicars and local church leaders have taken part in remote digital training courses so far this year, four times the number as in 2019.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “At a time when many have felt isolated and fearful, Church of England parishes and clergy have broadcast thousands of online church services and events, seeking to bring comfort and hope to their communities. We know that tens of thousands of those tuning in will never have had contact with their local Church of England parish before and may never have heard the Christian message. Their welcome presence is a sign of the great hunger we all have for spiritual meaning in our lives.”

The 2020 digital figures are published alongside the Mission Statistics for 2019 showing social action and church attendance until December. The figures show that parishes were already running or supporting 35,000 social action projects before the pandemic, serving communities across the country from lunch clubs for older people to parent and toddler groups and food banks.

More than 4,000 parent/carer toddler groups are run or supported by Church of England churches, while more than 5,000 churches run or support lunch clubs, coffee mornings or similar hospitality for older people.

The figures show the extent of church support for people living in food poverty with nearly 8,000 food banks run or supported by Church of England churches.

Nearly 60% of churches are involved in food bank provision while nearly one in three reported either running, hosting or supporting a parent/toddler group. Other figures showed 2,700 churches involved in community cafes, 2,400 in night shelters and 2,300 in holiday or breakfast clubs.

The findings show Church of England churches were involved in 35,000 social action projects, compared to 33,000 recorded in 2017.

The figures for social action have been released alongside statistics showing that the number of regular worshippers attending church once a month or more decreased by 1% in 2019 to 1.11 million.

On average, 854,000 people attended Church of England services and acts of worship each week in October 2019, a decline of 2.1% compared to the year before. The additional number of people attending services for schools in Church of England churches rose by 3% to 182,000. Usual Sunday attendance fell by 2% to 690,000 in 2019.

There were nearly eight million attendances at Christmas and Advent services and more than a million people attended Church of England church services at Easter.

Notes to editor

  • The 2019 findings are based on returns from around 14,000 of the 16,000 Church of England churches and relate to activities during the calendar year 2019.
  • Read the full digital report for 2020.
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Paul
Paul
9 days ago

In order to see through the spin and find a realistic assessment of church attendance, one has to look at the bottom of page 25.
Average Sunday Attendance (all Ages) has decreased by about 3.2% in a year.

Froghole
Froghole
9 days ago

I note that the attendance is surveyed during the month of October. Attendance is usually ‘goosed’ by harvest festivals during September and October (though in my experience harvest attendance has been in sharp decline over the last couple of decades). It would be better to undertake any assessment during a more quotidian month, such as February or June. It would also be useful if references to ‘children’ and ‘adults’ could be disaggregated. For instance, it is not helpful to state that 14% of attendees were children under 16 (20% under 18); it would be much more helpful to indicate which… Read more »

Paul
Paul
9 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

It would be difficult to break down ages further, as people’s ages are generally not known. I presume the current age breakdown is somewhat of a guess.
It is important to stay with October counting, for reasons of consistency. Also this is the practice in most denominations.

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
9 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

Since you invited me….since I try to keep my weight below 9 stone it’s amusing to be described as a heavyweight….! I haven’t had the chance to study the figures in detail so may comment more in the next couple of days. As usual, the research and stats department has done a very professional job in pulling all this together. The press release is the usual masterpiece of spin; the “bad news” is downplayed to the last paragraph or so, and even then not addressed in much detail. Furthermore the figure in the reduction of the worshipping community (a very… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
8 days ago

Thank you very much indeed for that, Sir Bernard! That is most kind. Prior to lockdown I undertook a very protracted and extended pilgrimage/tour. Since the end of lockdown I have been back to a few of the churches where I worshipped a number of years ago. Congregations seem markedly more attenuated, even allowing for the loss (perhaps the permanent loss) of a significant section of formerly regular attendees. The comments of Michael and Richard Ashby are apt. I fear that the decision taken to shutter the whole Church (except online) in March and, more seriously, not to bring the… Read more »

David Keen
David Keen
8 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

re: heavyweights, I’m definitely not as successful as Bernard at managing my diet during lockdown. I’ll be doing some work on the changes by Diocese – when I started looking at these stats, the one sign of hope was always that London Diocese was bucking the trend, and that others might find a way to do the same. There seems to be nobody bucking the trend now. The CofE press department will be breathing a sigh of relief that next year, Covid will put paid to any meaningful comparisons, and they can have a year off trying to stay upbeat… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
8 days ago
Reply to  David Keen

Very many thanks for that! The figures for the London diocese are rather dispiriting, with baptisms, for instance, now being little more than a demographic blip. My experience of touring that diocese up to about five years ago is that the numbers are very much concentrated in the HTB and Bishopsgate units, which are mostly in the City, the West End and in Kensington & Chelsea: of course, they do have plants, such as Shadwell, Hammersmith (St Paul’s) and Hoxton (St John’s), or other churches with a strong – usually evangelical – tradition (such as St Mary’s Islington, St Mary’s… Read more »

David Keen
David Keen
7 days ago
Reply to  Froghole
Michael
Michael
9 days ago

My jaundiced view of the digital report for 2020: a portrait is being presented of a very healthy Church because millions of people have watched or downloaded a worship resource. There is almost an assumption that when public worship gets back to normal, millions of people will be flocking to churches having first been engaged online. I know some people who are enthusiastic worshippers-by-zoom. But you cannot receive communion on zoom, or baptise, or have meaningful interaction. It is artificial and not collective. When the same data for 2020 are published next year, will online worship be included to hide… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
7 days ago
Reply to  Michael

I’ve been worshipping online at least 5 days a week ever since the first lockdown. It’s via Facebook, where you can enter comments to discuss the Bible readings and sermon, take part in the intercessions, and sing along to the hymns. So, definitely interactive – more so than most church services, in fact. And I feel very much part of the community. I also take communion, by providing bread and wine and holding them up as the priest says the words of consecration. Many others do too. Admittedly not everyone feels they can take part in communion this way, but… Read more »

Kate
Kate
6 days ago
Reply to  Michael

“But you cannot receive communion on zoom, or baptise, or have meaningful interaction.”

It seems incongruous to believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood but that there is some sort of distance limit involved.

ACI
ACI
6 days ago
Reply to  Michael

I tend to agree with Froghole. This virus will be a death knell, because the decline was already precipitous. Flipping a switch, clicking on a mouse, voila, church. This kind of thing does not appeal to everyone, and it is virtually (!) impossible to correlate it with church as it has been known, in terms of statistical evaluation. A new essay at covenant/TLC shows the figures from 2008 to 2018 and the declines in TEC (and in the old ‘mainline’) are also very stark. When one compares relative age and new baptisms, it looks irreversible for these bodies. Then throw… Read more »

Last edited 6 days ago by ACI
ACI
ACI
6 days ago

It is indeed. Thank you for the link. It feeds into the larger topic we are all facing.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
9 days ago

My feeling is that the pandemic has served to decouple congregations from their churches. Certainly where I worship there is a significant cohort of worshipers who have not returned with the resumption of services, and there is no evidence that they will return, or at least not with their previous frequency. In addition the social and community aspect of worship, so important to so many, no longer exists; social distance during worship, no coffee after services, no meetings, no concerts, no house groups, no talks, no committees. These and many other activities have been the glue which have held congregations… Read more »

Just Sayin'
Just Sayin'
8 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

What I infer from these statistics, and the trend Richard Ashby identifies in the decoupling of congregations from their churches, is that the Church of England is now in its last decade as a national, parochially representative organisation. I’ve noticed a good number of Facebook posts from former members of our congregations showing them on holiday, at family celebrations, rejoicing at being able to play golf once more – the same people who have been emailing me to say they are still ‘shielding’ hence their non re appearance at church. They can still keep up with the gossip online so… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
8 days ago
Reply to  Just Sayin'

The excellent and shrewd comments made by you, Michael and Richard Ashby are so very true. One of the reasons why I was rushing around parishes so frenetically before lockdown was the realisation that the last few grains of sand were slipping through the hourglass. However, I thought I would still have time to get around some of the weakest parts of the country (Lincolnshire, East Yorkshire, Cornwall, Wales) before it was too late. Unfortunately, I feel that the virus, and the Church’s response to it, mean that it is now almost certainly too late. Yet this is part of… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
8 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

It is certainly correct that a significant number of people have stopped attending CofE churches “in the flesh”, but what has happened to them? Have they stopped all church activity, or have they gone elsewhere? To use a shopping analogy, during lockdown the major department stores in city high streets have been severely damaged financially. But local corner shops in the suburbs and online traders are doing very well thank you. I wonder if the CofE is like Debenhams or John Lewis and beginning to struggle, whereas local informal religious groupings, and those doing competent online worship are doing well.… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by Simon Dawson
Michael
Michael
7 days ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

In answer to your question, what has happened to those no longer attending church in the flesh. I come into that category but against my will. The last time I was in a church was Lent 2/March 8th. Most churches in the area remain locked. Apparently if a church is open to visitors, a deep clean of the entire church building has to be carried out before the next re-opening. As for public worship on a Sunday, it is very convenient for the celebrant to be at home because being in church would mean more deep cleaning. I have no… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
7 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Dear Michael,
My heart goes out to you. When we reopened on 5th July, the sense of joy was palpable. We have continued ever since with as close to our preferred pattern as possible. We intend to continue to do so if at all possible. I just wish you were close enough to join us in Hartlepool. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Graeme

Paul
Paul
7 days ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

I found out a week or two ago that the Catholic church near me currently had eight adults under instruction. The number may be more now. I don’t know where these people come from, but I suspect that many are former Anglicans.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
8 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

You are so right Richard. It’s these ancillary activities which bond people together. I have always thought that coffee after the main Sunday service was ‘prime time’ for contacting people and getting to know newcomers if any. Under present restrictions that cannot happen in church or hall. During the generally fine summer weather, it has been possible for some interaction to take place outside after the service but, now that autumn weather has arrived, that too is less possible.

John Williams
John Williams
5 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

I’m interested in the way the enforced going online of ‘church’ due to the pandemic has raised this issue about why people may not return to ‘physical’ church once normal services resume. It seems to me that it has taken the present crisis to reveal a reality ignored by the Church for far too long, namely the long decline of ‘churchgoing’ as a habit. When I retired from active ministry three years ago, and also moved house to a different part of the country, I assumed to begin with that I would in due course find a suitable church locally… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
5 days ago
Reply to  John Williams

Dr Williams: Please forgive the impertinence, but I think that this is one of the most brilliant and insightful comments I have ever seen on this blog, or anywhere, on this topic. Many thanks! I spent much time worshipping regularly at two churches, but much of the time the experience seemed banal, dull and formalistic. I was going because it was part of the routine. Both churches were in thrall to the cult of the parish communion, which I found increasingly tedious and empty. At length, I decided to quit the second of these churches (a variety of reasons were… Read more »

Michael
Michael
5 days ago
Reply to  John Williams

That is a very perceptive account of the current situation, that without access to physical church, the habit of churchgoing dies very quickly. I am on the other side as I remain keen to return to physical church after 32 weeks of exile but I know this will not happen this year. My essential problem with online church is the lack of collective togetherness in one place. Whether it is facebook or zoom, there is the inescapable fact that all the participants are all in their individual private spaces. If this is the new normal, to use one of the… Read more »

ACI
ACI
5 days ago
Reply to  John Williams

I agree. As does Procrutus. Habits are extremely important. They lodge in the lower brain stem. ‘We go to church because we do that.’ When this is displaced by a click or a log on, we enter a different terrain.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
4 days ago
Reply to  ACI

I’m reminded of the quotation of the sociologist who said re the last 100 yrs”The people didnt stop believing in God and then stopped going to church. They stopped going to church and then stopped believing in God”

ACI
ACI
4 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Thank you. We are what we do. Liturgy means ‘committed work.’ A job we do. A bounden duty and service. The doing of which makes us different because we do it.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
3 days ago
Reply to  ACI

If this is right, and I believe it is, it goes some way to explaining the weakness of the Catholic tradition of Anglicanism in the C of E with its “through the Church to Christ” model of Evangelism. This is ameliorated very slightly by “through Christ to the Church” Evangelicals who migrate to Anglo-Catholic shrines in the search for something more richly sacramental.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
4 days ago
Reply to  John Williams

This is the big danger since the enforced closure from March 22 to July 4. This was long enough for people to get out of the habit of going to church and of course some churches took longer to resume public worship.

Live-streaming services allows those who cannot attend a church to participate. However it also gives an easier option which may lead to former regular attenders deciding not to attend in person. There is now an embarrassment of riches in the number of live-streamed services available on a Sunday morning.

Paul Waddington
Paul Waddington
8 days ago

I have been challenged to write an alternative press release, so here it is: C of E Church Attendance Continues Declines The Church of England has published statistics for for the year 2019. The document reveals that average Sunday attendance (measured in October each year) reduced from 730,400 in 2018 to 707,100 in 2019, a reduction of 3.2%. All dioceses recorded a reduction except Bristol, Coventry and Winchester, which had small increases, and Sodor and Man where attendances remained the same. The report indicates that 1.2% of the population of England attends a C of E church on a “usual”… Read more »

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
7 days ago

I’ve only just realised, after seeing the digital report, that Renewal and Reform now has its own logo and branding. How long before every parish has to incorporate that on to its website and stationary?

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
7 days ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

R&R logo- worth every penny from the church plate … says so much about priorities while Canterbury burns. How many pennies spent on Reparations; how much on Reputation Management?
Any organisation focusing on logos while burying bad news is in trouble.

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