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Churchgoing in the UK – TEAR Fund

December 8, 2015

tear fundOne in 10 people in the UK attends church every week and one in seven goes once a month, according to Tearfund’s survey of 7,000 people. This puts the UK among Europe’s four least observant countries. One in four UK adults attends church at least once a year. Two-thirds of those polled had not been to church in the last year, except for baptisms, weddings or funerals – but 53% identified themselves as Christian.

Nearly three million more people would attend regularly if given the “right invitation”. Churches could do more to offer encouragement to potential worshippers.

53% of people identified themselves as Christian, compared with almost three-quarters who had in the last census in 2001.

But the survey indicated that three million people who had stopped going to church, or who had never been in their lives, would consider attending “given the right invitation”. This could be a personal invite, the chance to accompany a relative or friend, or the offer of help during difficult personal circumstances, .Many people would be unsure what to expect if they did visit.

“The church for a lot of people is a very strange place these days. They’re not familiar with what’s going on inside the building, with the form of service, with the way people gather, with what they say, how they pray.

“So the first thing they have really got to wake up to is that there is this big cultural gap between churched and non-churched.”

The Reverend Lynda Barley, head of research and statistics for the Church of England Archbishops’ Council, said Britain was a nation “seeking identity”.

“At first glance, the past has been left behind to wholeheartedly embrace individual choice and secular consumerism prominently among its modern-day gods,” she said.

“But research is beginning to show that there is more, far more, going on out of apparent sight in everyday life in Britain today.”

The report found that Northern Ireland was the most observant region, with 45% of people attending services every month.

Regular churchgoing was also three times higher among adults from black ethnic groups than white.


Men are less interested in Christianity than women. Among women, there are close to twice as many Christians (60%) than those with no religion (33%). However men are less likely to affiliate to the Christian faith (47%), with just as many who are non-religious (45%)

Our research cannot confirm whether people will adopt the current churchgoing habits of their elders as they progress through life or retain their existing behaviour. They may not necessarily retain all the characteristics of their cohort – they may also make some changes in behaviour as they move into different life stages.

The research confirms the belief that churchgoing is associated with those of higher social grade. Adults in social grades AB (professionals, senior and middle management) have above average prevalence of regular churchgoers (22% and 21% respectively), as well above average proportions of fringe or occasional churchgoer

Evangelicals are over three times as likely as non-evangelicals to attend church gatherings additional to worship/communion (40% vs.12%)

Evangelicals are more than four times as likely as non-evangelicals to go to church to find out about Christianity (13% vs. 3%).

The report is online here 

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