Sunday church service attendance drops by nearly 18% in a decade

Sunday church service attendance drops by nearly 18% in a decade to leave just 756,000 turning up each week, CofE reveals

  • Average Sunday attendances have continued to fall for the fifth year in a row
  • Since 2007, attendances have seen a 17.7 per cent fall from the 919,000 average
  • Weekly attendance also fell for a fourth year, dropping nine per cent to 895,000
  • But Christmas attendance at church is at its highest level for more than a decade
  • Numbers in 2017 increased by 3.4 per cent to 2.68 million from previous year
  • That is according the new figures released by the Church of England today 

Average Sunday church service attendance has fallen by nearly 18 per cent in a decade leaving just 756,000 turning up each week, according to new figures released by the Church of England today.

This is despite a rise in the number of people attending Christmas services across the country. 

The shock figures revealed that average Sunday attendances had fallen for the fifth year in a row to 756,000 in October 2017. 

Figures released by the Church of England today showed that average Sunday church service attendance (pictured is a stock image of Rochester Cathedral) had fallen for the fifth year in a row

Sarah Mullally (pictured), the Bishop of London, has noted how ‘striking’ it is to see churches responding and evolving in the face of rapid social change 

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (pictured) recently launched a campaign to encourage more people to the Church of England’s Advent and Christmas services this year. But despite this, average attendance at Sunday services is falling 

That is a a 17.7 per cent fall from the 919,000 average Sunday attendance recorded in 2007. 

Average weekly attendance also fell. This time for the fourth year in a row, dropping 9 per cent to 895,000 in October 2017 from 994,000 million in 2013.  

Bishop of London Sarah Mullally noted that regular attendance figures at church were positive. She said that being part of the church was more than just a matter of what people do on a Sunday morning

But the Church of England stressed the number of regular attenders of church rose by 2,000 from 2016 to 2017, from 1.136 million to 1.138 million.

Bishop of London Sarah Mullally said the fact the regular attendance figures were stable showed that being part of the church was more than just a matter of what people do on a Sunday morning.

She added: ‘We live in an age of rapid social change affecting all aspects of life – right down to people’s working patterns and how they spend their weekends.

‘It is really striking to see how churches are responding and evolving in the face of that.’

As well as this, the Church of England also noted a rise in the number of people attending Christmas services.  

In 2017, there was a rise of 3.4 per cent to 2.68 million from 2.60 million the previous year.

The church said it was the fourth successive rise in Christmas congregations since 2013 and the highest attendance since 2006. 

Crowds pack into St Paul’s Cathedral for a Christmas carol service. The Church of England revealed today that the number of people attending services at this time of year is on the rise

The choir perform from within the Dome sanctuary of St Paul’s Cathedral in central London during the Christmas carol service

Combined with figures for special services in churches during the Advent period, including carol services, there were nearly eight million attendances over the festive season.


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Ms Mullally continued: ‘We are also reaching more people than ever through social media, providing a Christian presence to those who might not otherwise walk through the door of a church.

‘And millions encounter the church in their daily lives, through its commitment to the most vulnerable, from food bank provision to night shelters, lunch clubs and community cafes.’

The new figures were published after the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby launched a campaign to encourage more people to the Church of England’s Advent and Christmas services this year. 

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