Thanks for the interesting topic. In all fairness, I find you are not telling the whole story, maybe due to a personal bias. I'm sure your intentions are good, and certainly relevant in light of the 2005 WT figures posted recently. Here is the full summary directly from "the horse's mouth" for those who are interested:
PULLING OUT OF THE NOSEDIVE
Many churches in England are in a healthier state now than seven years ago. Some local churches as well as a few denominations are doing very well, more churches are growing, and overall they are not losing nearly as many people as they were.
These are the major findings from the 2005 English Church Census, undertaken by Christian Research and published today.
The Census showed that in the 1990s 1 million people left church in nine years, but in the seven years from 1998-2005 only ½ million left, a much slower rate of decline, showing that churchgoing in England is beginning to pull out of the ‘nosedive’ decline seen previously. There are two major reasons for this slowing decline: the number of churches which are growing, and a considerable increase of ethnic minority churchgoers, especially black people.
Over a third of churches, 34%, are growing (compared with 21% in 1998), 16% are now stable (up from 14%), while the proportion which are declining has fallen from two thirds to only half (65% down to 50%). A quarter, 25%, of the churches which were declining in the 1990s have not only stemmed their losses, but have turned their church around and are now growing. This includes churches of all denominations and sizes.
However, the declining churches are still losing more people than the growing churches are gaining. The net effect is that overall 6.3% of the population are now in church on an average Sunday (7.5% in 1998), with others attending midweek. A major factor in this decline is that churchgoers are significantly older on average than the population - 29% of churchgoers are 65 or over compared with 16% of the population.
Black people now account for 10% of all churchgoers in England (increased from 7%), with a further 7% (previously 5%) from other non-white ethnic groups. This is most obvious in Inner London, where 44% of churchgoers are now black, 14% other non-white, and only 42% white.
"Christian Research has never shirked from telling us unpalatable truths about church decline. At last they have some good news for us!" comments Ven Bob Jackson, the Church of England Archdeacon of Walsall and author of The Road to Growth. "Decline has slowed and far more individual churches are growing. In fact the data I see for the Church of England confirms this. Pulling out of the Nosedive is an apt and justified title for a report with some statistical good news for all the churches."
"Statistics like these give both the church and wider society the helpful opportunity to look at how church attendance has changed over time" says Rev Katei Kirby, CEO of ACEA (African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance). "For example, while it is significant to see the increase in the numbers of Black people attending church in England, it is equally important to see where they are attending - in the independent and Pentecostal sectors as well as in the nominal or mainstream denominations. I think that this will continue to have a major impact on the picture of church attendance trends in the future."
"This is a helpful, though challenging, analysis of the state of the Church in England" responded Rev John Glass, General Superintendent Elim Pentecostal Churches, one of the denominations which has done better than others.
Dr Peter Brierley, who undertook the Census, says, "It is a great joy to have some good news at last. Although the overall numbers are still going down there are many signs of hope in the statistics. It is important that church leaders, both nationally and locally, pick up on these positive things, learn from those who are doing well, and build for the future. If that happens we could see the church in this country once again having a major impact on our nation."
The results of the 2005 English Church Census are published today in Pulling out of the Nosedive and a volume of statistics which is No 6 in the Religious Trends series.