Churches experience surge in interest during Covid-19 - study

(Photo: Unsplash/Kenny Luo)

Churches across the UK have experienced a surge in interest following the outbreak of coronavirus, new research from the Evangelical Alliance has found. 

In a new report out today, over half (59%) of the 900 churches and organisations surveyed reported a marked increase in people interested in finding out more about the Christian faith during the corona crisis. 

Over two-thirds (70%) of church leaders reported more people attending services during the lockdown than would normally. 

The vast majority of church leaders (88%) said their churches had been working tirelessly to meet the needs of vulnerable people struggling as a result of the pandemic, with 72% of these saying they were working in partnership with local authorities, or other churches or charities.

Among the 196 Christian organisations surveyed, most (84%) said they had to make changes to how they operate. 

Across both churches and Christian organisations, the poll revealed concerns around the financial impact of coronavirus, with nearly a third of churches (31%) saying they had made use of the Government's furlough scheme for some or all of their staff, a figure that rose to 43% for organisations.

When asked what concerned them the most about the fallout on wider society, most churches (97%) cited the economic impact, while 78% said mental health problems. 

Evangelical Alliance UK Director, Peter Lynas said: "We are so encouraged to hear about the creativity and agility of church and organisation leaders in responding to the current crisis.

"Church leaders are seeing more people attending their church, interested in faith and making a first time commitment to follow Jesus. The vast majority of churches are also working tirelessly to meet the need of the most vulnerable in their community and they are doing so in partnership with others.

"Churches and organisations have changed how they operate while maintaining their core mission and vision. Buildings may be closed, but the church is very much open with a passion to make Jesus know and to help the most vulnerable in our society.

"We hope the Changing Church report will help government and media understand the critical role the church plays and encourage churches to keep being creative when it comes to mission and compassion."

Denominations surveyed as part of the study included the Church of England, Baptist, Elim, Assemblies Of God, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Methodist, New Frontiers, Presbyterian and independents. The survey was conducted by the Evangelical Alliance in partnership with the charity Stewardship and Eido Research.