UK Congregations Falling for Trivial & Petty Reasons, Survey Finds

Latest research has shown that congregations are not leaving the pews because of the big issues currently being disputed among the Churches, but it is the smaller trivial things that are turning them away.

A study, surveying more than 500 people on the reasons they left their church, was conducted by Spring Harvest and Care for the Family for a conference taking place in February 2006 to help leaders retain their congregations.

Shockingly the survey found that a majority of churchgoers were leaving services as they had had a dispute with a fellow member of their congregation.

Petty disagreements such as the way the organ was played to more defining issues such as the content of the sermons, were the reasons given by nearly seventy-five percent of respondents for why they had left church.

The survey has come as a reaction to the decline in church attendance in the UK since the 1960’s, and although the church congregations on the Roman Catholic and Church of England have reportedly stabilised, this issue is still one that the Church is trying to reverse.

The situation of congregations in the UK has been varied over recent years, with some figures showing that for the first time on 4 years, the 2003 attendance in the Church of England had risen in England by 12,000 people.

However, at Roman Catholic gatherings in the Irish Republic some congregations have become so empty that just elderly and very young children from Africa and Asia are attending the services.

In addition, a separate survey has also found that church attendance in rural England had fallen by more than 30 percent since 1989, and also that country churches are losing members at about twice the rate as urban ones.

As an example of the valiant efforts of the country’s leading churches to bring people back to church, the diocese of Manchester this week will hold its second “Back to Church Sunday”.

The follow-up initiative comes off the back of a successful showing last year, when nearly 900 people returned to church through the scheme.

A Christian author, Rob Parsons has said to The Times newspaper, “It is not big doctrinal issues. Typical arguments take place over types of buildings, styles of worship, youth work. If not that, then they argue over the flower rota. People often tell me they don’t feel the need to attend church any more, and I can understand why they may feel that way.”

Getting further to the core of the matter, more than half replied that the style of the church meetings had caused them to depart from their weekly attendance at church.

In addition, the survey found that a huge majority felt that worshippers did not have to dress smartly when they attended church; in fact a tiny percentage of just 5 percent thought this necessary.

Nearly all the respondents to the survey were regular churchgoers, and more than 50 percent stated that they had attended the same church for more than 10 years.