Membership numbers continue to rise strongly. Numbers recorded on churches' Electoral Rolls are growing on average by around 2.5% each year.
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The Diocese of London is looking forward to the next phase of its shared life in 2012 and beyond as it seeks to honour Jesus Christ in the capital. Key to this will be reviewing its long-term strategic framework, the London Challenge.
As part of this process, Bishop Richard asked Bob Jackson and Alan Piggot to re-examine the themes of the 2003 report A Capital Idea, which noted exceptional church growth within the diocese.
Their report, entitled Another Capital Idea, updates the progress and patterns of growth up to 2010, and makes further suggestions for the future growth and flourishing of the churches.
Is the Church in London still growing?
In a word ‘Yes’, but it depends what you look at.
Membership numbers continue to rise strongly. Numbers recorded on churches’ Electoral Rolls are growing on average by around 2.5% each year.
Numbers actually attending church services have risen since 2003, but by a much smaller amount. The ‘Usual Sunday Attendance’ measure peaked in 2007, since when it has fallen back by 2%. The ‘October Count’ measure (which includes attendance at weekday services) peaked in 2006. It has fallen back by 4% since then.
With membership continuing to grow strongly while attendance has begun to fall slightly, committed people may be coming to church less often.
Patterns of growth
A small church in inner London without a vacancy but which has started a new congregation, perhaps on a weekday, and invested in children’s and families’ ministry is highly likely to have grown in recent years. A larger church in outer London with a vacancy, a constant service pattern and a small or average proportion of children is highly likely to have shrunk.
Positive strategies are available to combat the forces of decline and generate new growth in the twentyfirst century. The most powerful of these include better welcome, better vacancies, removing glass ceilings, encouraging connectedness groups, new service times, planting new worship events and transplanting from the large into the small.
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