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How should our churches modernize to attract younger people?

(39 Posts)
Granddaughter Thu 18-Feb-16 10:14:43

The scale of the Church of England’s atrophy has been starkly set out by figures presented to its general assembly which show that church attendance will continue to fall for the next 30 years.
Previously, the church predicted its decline in numbers was likely to continue for another five years before recovering.
But John Spence, the Church of England’s finance chief, said yesterday that the decline was expected to continue for another three decades, with today’s figures of 18 people per 1,000 regularly attending church falling to 10 per 1,000. He added that an 81-year-old was eight times more likely to attend church than a 21-year-old.
“On all likely measures of success, given the demographics of the church, it is unlikely we will see a net growth in church membership within the next 30 years,” said Spence. “I could have given you other facts, but I think you get the point.”
The figures illustrate the challenge facing a church whose congregations are ageing as the millennial generation increasingly spurns organised religion.
The church said in January that the number of people attending Church of England services each week had fallen below a million for the first time, with Sunday attendances falling to 760,000. Projections suggest that Sunday attendance could drop to 425,000.
There are no comparative figures available for the numbers in Britain regularly attending services for other religions.
A church source suggested the 30-year prediction was “much gloomier” than previous forecasts. But it did not take into account the potential impact of the church’s emphasis on evangelism and its £72m programme of “renewal and reform”, the source added.
The programme is aimed at modernising the church and increasing by 50% the number of priests being trained, to 600 recruits a year. It also involves shifting funds away from struggling rural parishes with small and elderly congregations to urban churches which are regarded as having potential for growth.
The programme involved risk, said Spence, a former Lloyds Bank executive. He said that along the way some things would “not work”.
Arun Arora, a church spokesman, said: “The reference to 30 years is based on projections which assume no change, and underscore the importance of the renewal and reform programme. They do not factor in the changes being proposed. Most crucially, as the archbishop of Canterbury said this morning, we trust in the grace and transforming power of the spirit of God, who empowers and equips the church.”
In a separate session the synod called on the government to launch an independent review of the impact of benefits sanctions after hearing anecdotal accounts of hardship and humiliation from bishops, clergy and lay members.
Speakers acknowledged the need for checks on the benefits system to deter abuse, but said the sanctions system was punitive, aimed at the most marginalised and vulnerable, and that it created a climate of fear and anxiety.
Sanctions made many claimants feel under suspicion, said Malcolm Chamberlain, of Sheffield. The “highly punitive regime” led to people “begging, borrowing and stealing to meet daily needs”.
He cited a case of a claimant being sanctioned for failing to attend a benefits interview through being at a funeral, and another case of sanctioning when the claimant was being interviewed by police after his house was burgled.
Elliot Swattridge, of the church’s youth council, said: “The system is not just broken, but is cruel, even deadly.”
Catherine Pickford, of Newcastle, which hosts one of the UK’s largest food banks, said that for many claimants sanctions felt like “an arbitrary and dehumanising [punishment] for being unemployed”.
According to Simon Taylor, of Derby, the impact of sanctions lasted far beyond the period of withdrawal of benefits. “Sanctions are not removing dependency but perpetuating and increasing dependency. This is a counterproductive system.”
The former Conservative MP Sir Tony Baldry urged the church to start a mass lobbying campaign of MPs over the issue of the state’s benefits sanctions. Meetings with MPs at constituency surgeries would generate correspondence from them to ministers and get questions raised in parliament, he suggested

Luckygirl Thu 18-Feb-16 10:33:15

Children learn about religions in school. If they choose to embrace Christianity then so be it; if they choose another religion or none then that too is fine.

The dwindling of numbers in the C of E is an important step towards the long overdue separation of church and state, as the smaller the membership, the more difficult it becomes to justify.

BlackeyedSusan Tue 22-Mar-16 13:37:30

maybethe CoE needs to be pruned. who knows. What is certain , christianity will not die out, whether one particular branch of it does or not.

I think church has to become more inclusive. welcome the unconventional. be church differently, communities that welcome others and do not exclude through structure, practise or because they are not like us.

Anniebach Tue 22-Mar-16 16:01:16

Pentecostal churches are the very opposite to in decline

TriciaF Tue 22-Mar-16 16:34:57

Our second son and his wife used to belong to the Vineyard church in Southend before they moved to India. It sounded to be full of young people, very vibrant and outlooking.
They used to visit a nearby women's prison.
Having once been a C of E attendee, it was becoming dull and out of date even in those days. I think young people need something with maybe less tradition and more contact with life outside.

obieone Tue 22-Mar-16 17:23:02

Younger people like to worship with several other younger people.

suzied Tue 22-Mar-16 17:54:47

R.C. Churches seem to be full, albeit of Eastern Europeans.

Spot Mon 10-Oct-16 14:09:30

Has anyone read "The Remarkable Replacement Army" by Stan Firth?

granjura Mon 10-Oct-16 14:21:53

Here in French speaking Switzerland, with massive immigration from Italy, Spain and Portugal - Protestant/Catholic mix is about 50/50. When I was a child Catholics were a tiny minority.

Both Churches have found that to survive they have to join up and work together- weddings and funerals are often celebrated jointly, with both Vicar and Priest taking part, and in each others Churches- and they do a lot of religious and social activities together in the oecumenical way.

Badenkate Mon 10-Oct-16 15:35:36

Maybe younger people have got more sense?

gettingonabit Mon 10-Oct-16 15:47:42

Maybe the C of E should look at other churches which are successful. As mentioned upthread, some churches are successful.

One of my local Methodist (Welsh) chapels is full to the gunnells every Sunday; why? Because it's a place people want to go. It's enjoyable. There's singing. There's community. There's links to the wider community, such as soup kitchens and collections for those in need.

And whilst I'm not particularly religious, I would attend such a place, where there's joy in Christianity.

I would not attend a C of E church. In my experience, there's a stand-offishness about the posing, the processions, the dreadful singing. It's not a joyful place, and it needs to be, because there's far more interesting things for people to do on a Sunday than being talked at by some bloke in funny clothes. grin.

TriciaF Mon 10-Oct-16 18:02:40

Our younger son and his wife used to belong to the Vineyard Church, which was very lively and attracted young people.
They're the ones who live in India now, and foster/adopt Indian orphans. They've found a church there that they attend,but I don't know what it's called.

TriciaF Mon 10-Oct-16 18:11:27

ps as I've said before, I was brought up as C of E, but became disenchanted. Married a Jew and converted to Judaism.
There's a very vigorous movement in Judaism which attracts young people, but OTOH many Jews become disenchanted too, intermarry and leave their faith.
I think it's to do with the attraction towards and against materialism and sprituality.

granjura Mon 10-Oct-16 18:40:29

gettingonabit- surely it depends very much on the particular CofE Church, the Vicar, the local Congregation. CofE can vary a lot from High to Low and anything in between. Where I used to live, CofE members used to 'commute' to a CofE that suited them which was quite fun to watch.

dramatictessa Mon 10-Oct-16 18:55:20


vampirequeen Mon 10-Oct-16 19:07:28

grin badenkate

Starlady Sun 26-Mar-17 12:09:03

Modernize the music, have dances, etc. and have more outdoor activities in good weather. If young people don't come to the church, the church must come to the young people, imo, if it's going to flourish.

TwiceAsNice Sun 26-Mar-17 12:27:23

I go to a lovely Cof E church in Surrey. Moved here from Wales and found it really welcoming. I have made new friends and been invited to join community things which I now do regularly as well. We have a young female minister who keeps things modern mixed in with traditions. It is a mixed ages congregation with families attending as well as older people and we have a lot of children and young people, there is good provision for teenagers who attend in and out of formal church.

Today Mothering Sunday, everyone in church were given a small posy of flowers not just mothers and the children did a little play to illustrate one of the readings, so not dull at all. It depends on the individual church and it's not helpful to generalise.

felice Sun 26-Mar-17 13:03:33

Just got home from the COS here in Brussels with DGS, packed house with lots of young people and families.
It is very much a social hub for migrant Scots and other nationalities particularily Ghana, Philipines and Nigeria.
We have a lot of social events including a popular 20/30s group.
I am afraid if people want Churches to expand they have to cater for all their congregation not just 11.00am on a Sunday.

tanith Sun 26-Mar-17 14:03:19

I think people either have faith or they don't, whichever kind they choose you can't make people gain faith, does it not come from within?

ginny Sun 26-Mar-17 14:33:25

I think it will be very difficult to attract young people. People are much more informed these days and not willing to just accept something as truth. They are happy to question and debate and not accept what to me, are stories made up years ago with a view to control . No offence meant to those who believe.

Norah Sun 26-Mar-17 23:19:49

Our Church is welcoming, a lovely celebration, and packed full.

nina1959 Mon 27-Mar-17 08:16:05

Not the Pentecostal Church. Also not the online Churches either. I'm a Christian but I rarely go to Church. Instead I am part of a far more active and upbeat online group. I don't think Christianity is declining. It's just being transformed.

Anniebach Mon 27-Mar-17 08:48:02

Many children are brought up atheists now just as they use to be brought up Christian

nina1959 Mon 27-Mar-17 09:22:50

Nothing can thwart God's plan correct?

On the rare occasions I go to Church it's packed with families. On Rememberance Sunday we had Guides, Brownies, Beavers, Cubs, Rainbows, Scouts and playgroups all wearing uniforms and banners.
I think there's a move to grow online but I'm not seeing a decline to the extent where it's all bad news.
I think we have to be careful we don't send out so many negatives that we help sink it.