Hong Kong's Protestant churches blooming

Protestant churches in Hong Kong are blooming with an annual growth rate 6.2% over the last five years and the number of Protestants in the former British colony drawing close to 300,000.

The number of practising Protestants surpassed 290,000 in 2009, rising from just over 216,000 in 2004, according to the results of a new survey released by the Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement.

The figure surpasses the growth experienced by Protestant churches in Hong Kong from 1999 to 2004, when the number of practising Protestant rose from just under 176,000 in 1999 to nearly 217,000 in 2004, an annual growth rate of 4.3%.

Rev Luk Fai, President of the Bethel Bible Seminary, revealed the new statistics in the latest edition of Christian Weekly magazine.

He said the growth was down to an increase in the number of large congregations with more than 1,000 members, the development of youth work, and the integration of church ministry with student outreach, including worship services on school campuses.

Small groups, programmes focusing on the spiritual life of believers, organised prayer meetings and the provision of social programmes were cited as additional factors.

Rev Luk noted that although churches with “small groups” and an emphasis on spirituality experienced a better growth, this trend was only seen in churches with a congregation of more than 200 people.

For small-sized churches with congregations of less than 200, Rev Luk suggested that a focus on education and counselling could help the churches to grow.

He said the growth in the number of young Protestants was particularly significant. In 2004, the number of young people attending church in Hong Kong stood at more than 11,000. By 2009, there were nearly 25,000.

“Youth is a missionary focus group. We should have some successful ways to contact them and help them to convert,” he said.

The Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement conducts a survey on Protestant church attendance every five years.

The number of Catholics in the city stands at 353,000, out of a total population of 7 million.