Census results 'challenging but not discouraging', says Church

The Methodist Church has responded to today's Census figures with a renewed determination to serve others.

The Methodist General Secretary, the Reverend Dr Martyn Atkins said the results meant that Christians needed to "think and act smarter" if they were to be good witnesses to Jesus Christ today.

The census revealed that the number of people in the UK describing themselves as Christian has fallen significantly from 72% in 2001 to 59% in 2011.

"These figures are a challenge to the Churches and reflect how British society has changed," said Dr Atkins.

"But we are not discouraged. We are excited to be Christians in part of an increasingly diverse, multi-faith society and we believe that British society is enriched by this mix."

He insisted that the Church's commitment to being there for those who attend as well as those who do not remains the unchanged.

"Churches remain committed to making a difference to many more people's lives through the wider activities of our communities, in church groups, fresh expressions, work in schools and places of community through volunteering, chaplaincies, being street pastors and good neighbours," he said.

The Methodist Church is currently engaged in more than 7,000 outreach activities, serving more than 600,000 people.

Methodist churches have also been pioneering 'fresh expressions' of church, including cafe churches, children's churches and sacred spaces.

"The Census results mean we need to think and act smarter in seeking to be good witnesses to Jesus Christ today, and many Methodists will relish that opportunity," said Dr Atkins.

"We believe God continues to be at work in Britain and elsewhere and we remain committed to working with God and being available to God for good."