The state of the Church today

 Churchgoing in the UK – a research report from Tearfund on church attendance in the UK”, Jacinta Ashworth et al, Tearfund, 2007

In his forward to this report, Steven Croft says that ‘this report is essential reading for all concerned with the place and future of the Christian church in contemporary Britain.”  The report summarise that more that half the UK is Christian, 7.6million attend church monthly, nearly 3 million are likely to attend in the future and two thirds of people are out of touch with the church.  The report looks at church attendance and experience in the UK, demographic variations, frequency of church attendance, profile of regular churchgoers and reasons for church going.

This report may be downloaded here.

“The Missing Generation and the Methodist Church”, Liz Clutterbuck and Monica Janowski, 2011

This report may be of interest to those seeking to draw comparisons or find similarities between young adults in different denominations.  The report can be downloaded here

“Statistics for Mission”, Church of England

These are published annually on the Church of England website and give an overall picture of church attendance each year, but there is no specific data about young adults.

gone but not forgotten

“Gone but not forgotten – Church leaving and returning”- Philip Richter and Leslie J Francis, 1998, DLT, ISBN 978-0232522365

This book addresses the challenge faced by churches in England  by those who have chosen to leave the church.  The authors assess eight different theories about why people leave churches and their conclusions indicate that some leavers are more much more likely to return than others. (For more information, click on book title)

Although written nearly 20 years ago, and not specifically addressing the issue of young adults, this book is helpful as an aid to understanding why people leave the church.  Indeed, many of those surveyed may well be the parents of today’s young adults and so the research offers an insight into the understanding of faith in the families in which they  have been nurtured.

The final chapter suggests ways of shaping the future and gives practical ideas on how church are most likely to retain their members and encourage leaders to return.  This is summarised as:

  • avoid pigeon-holing people into tidy membership categories
  • notice and react sensitively when people are leaving
  • avoid blowing out any embers of faith
  • meet and respect people where they are culturally
  • meet and respect people where they are spiritually
  • help people to grow in their faith
  • offer practical support as people cope with life’s changes and chances
  • encourage parents in their upbringing of children
  • offer people a gospel worth investing in
  • authentically embody the gospel
  • offer people a sense of true community.