British churches grow smaller and larger


Peter Brierley reports on trends in the size of British churches. Here are a few of the findings.

The average size of a church has dropped from 123 people in 1989 to 84 people in 2005. Take out Roman Catholic churches and the average size for Protestant churches has dropped from 87 in 1989 to 67 in 2005.

The largest churches, some five percent of all the 37,500 churches in England, are collectively responsible for almost one-third of churchgoers. Virtually all the 1,900 churches with more than 350 people in their congregation are either Catholic (1,350) or evangelical (460); the remaining seventy are considered broad or liberal.

There are 160 Anglican churches with average Sunday attendance over 350 people, about one percent of all Anglican churches. Yet in 2005, this one percent of churches attracted ten percent of the total Anglican attendance in the country!

The larger the church, the greater the likelihood that it was a growing church. The larger the church, the greater the proportion of non-white people attending. The larger the church, the greater the proportion of younger people in it

More than half of the smallest congregations are those aged sixty-five or over, whereas they are less than a quarter in congregations in excess of four hundred people.