Three Million Waiting for Invite to Church, Survey Claims

A new survey released today has found that one in seven adults in the UK attends a Christian church each month, while nearly three million more people say they would attend church if only they were asked.

The findings of the in-depth survey by Christian relief and development agency Tearfund show that contrary to the UK's secular image, Christianity is still the dominant faith in the UK. More than half (53 per cent) or 26.2 million adults claim to be Christian.

The survey, Churchgoing in the UK, shows that 7.6 million adults in the UK go to church each month, and one in 10 adults attends weekly. One in four (12.6 million) attend at least once a year.

The survey also shows that three million people who have stopped going to church or who have never been in their lives would consider attending if they were given the right invitation.

Dr Elaine Storkey, President of Tearfund, who also lectures in theology at the University of Oxford, says: "This survey is a valuable contribution to exploring what people in Britain today think about church, why people attend and crucially, what is most likely to encourage people to make a connection with church."

Matthew Frost, Chief Executive of Tearfund, says: "What is clear from this survey is that the UK is holding firmly to the Christian faith. This is a great encouragement to Tearfund - we tackle poverty and injustice in partnership with churches in some of the world's poorest communities and we could not do it without the volunteers, prayer and money from churches throughout the UK supporting other churches around the world in the fight against poverty."

In addition, Churchgoing in the UK reveals that 22 per cent of Londoners attend church each month, 1 million adults attend ethnic minority Christian churches, 48 per cent of adults of black ethnic origin attend church monthly, and other faiths account for 6 per cent of religious attendance. Sixty-six per cent of the population, however, still have no connection with church.

Writing in a foreword to the report, Rev Dr Steven Croft, the Archbishops' Missioner and leader of Fresh Expressions, says: "There is significant encouragement for churches in this Tearfund research. A very substantial part of the population in the UK still attend church regularly or occasionally during the year. Christians are not (as yet) the tiny minority that some would suggest. This statistic alone has major implications not only for the churches but for public debate and public policy."

Dr Croft says the report highlights a clear opportunity for churches to attract new members by tapping into the nearly three million (six per cent of UK adults) who are likely to go to church in future. The survey revealed that a personal invite, family or a friend attending or difficult personal circumstances, are most likely to encourage people into church.

Churchgoing in the UK represents the main findings from research conducted on behalf of Tearfund among a representative poll of 7,000 adults in the UK, aged 16 or over, between 8 February and 5 March 2006.