Have UK Churches Found the Secret to Higher Attendance?

Attendance of UK Churches on the Rise

More people are attending church services in the U.K., and many are sharing their theories behind this rise.

According to Peter Oborne of The Telegraph, although figures have shown church attendance in the U.K. to have declined since the 1980s, recent figures show this is now changing. The report refers to one British church, St. Mary's congregation, which he claims has seen a 20 percent rise in church attendees in the past twelve months.

In the U.K., 76.8 percent are said to be religious according to sources, with Christianity being the dominant faith.

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In 2007, a Tearfund survey found that 10 percent of religious individuals attend church on a weekly basis- although this figure significantly increased around Christmas time.

In 1979, 5.4 million people attended church, but this figure reportedly dropped to 3.2 million by 2005.

Some reasons for the decline in church attendance include Sunday shopping, sports and all-around modernization.

Rising church attendance is not only limited to the U.K.; pentecostal megachurch Hillsong, which has congregations in Australia and London, has also seen an increase.

According to reports, church attendees have grown from 200 to 10,000 in 12 years, which Oborne says is a growth that is becoming common within more congregations.

Experts have attributed the rise in church members and attendance to the expansion of prayer group that extends beyond the usual Sunday.

“We meet during the week in small informal groups, known as Connect Groups, we serve our local communities together, some people go to evening college to learn more about the God’s word, we socialize together, we do life together," Hillsong's website states.

Some say that Hillsong's ongoing prayer sessions, which run throughout the week, essentially give churchgoers a wider sense of belonging, and ultimately give members motivation to regularly attend church.

Various aspects of the Hillsong congregation such as choir, faith based activities, quiz nights, and prayer groups provide further interest to church members and can make church more interesting- particularly for younger members.

Critics have also suggested that growing economic woes often result in more people turning to religion, another possible reason behind the surge in church attendance.

In a research paper on Sage Journals Online titled “A Cross-National Test of the Uncertainty Hypothesis of Religious Belief,” Nigel Barber tests this theory.

"There’s a strong negative correlation between measures of ‘material security’ and religiosity: those countries that are most religious are also those in which individuals are less secure," Barber writes.

His theory is based on the idea that “supernatural belief may be one way of controlling the uncertainty of our lives.”

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