With so few children attending church, is the CofE's very existence in danger?

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Just three children attend the average Church of England church, while the smallest 25 per cent of churches have none at all, according to the latest Statistics for Mission highlighted by the Church Times.

The overall decline in attendance in the CofE is almost twice as pronounced among children, according to the date collected by parishes a year ago. The average attendance by children, who are defined as being under 16, fell by 22 per cent between 2006 and 2016, compared with a 13-per-cent fall among adults.

In the smallest 25 per cent of churches, zero children attended, while in the largest 25 per cent the figure rose to 11, and in the largest five per cent it was 35, with the median being just three.

Generally, most measures of attendance fell by between 10 and 15 per cent between 2006 and 2016. Some 927,300 people (86 per cent of them adults, 14 per cent of them children under 16) attended CofE services and acts of worship in October 2016. This was down from 961,100 the previous year.

The usual Sunday attendances were, on average, 738,700, which was down from 755,000.

Meanwhile, there were 120,000 CofE baptisms and services of thanksgiving for the gift of a child, at which 59 per cent of the children were aged less than one.

In 2014, the Church Times reported that Professor David Voas, one of the authors of From Anecdote to Evidence, which found that nearly half of churches had fewer than five under-16s, warned that the Church must stop losing teenagers and those in their early 20s, if it is to reverse the decline that threatens its existence.

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