Northern Ireland has the highest number of regular churchgoers in the UK according to a survey by Christian relief and development agency Tearfund.
This revealed 45 per cent of people here regularly attend church. Geographically, Greater London showed the second highest number of regular churchgoers at 22 per cent.
Overall the survey revealed that one in seven adults in the UK attends a Christian church each month, with nearly three million more people saying they would attend church if only they were asked.
The findings also show that, contrary to the UK’s secular image, Christianity is still the dominant faith in the UK. Over half (53 per cent) or 26.2 million adults claim to be Christian.
The survey – Churchgoing in the UK – which tracks monthly church attendance and the likelihood of non churchgoers attending – shows that 7.6 million adults go to church each month and one in 10 adults attends weekly. One in four (12.6 million) attends at least once a year.
It also reveals that three million people who have stopped going to church or who have never been in their lives would consider attending given the right invitation.
In a foreword to the report, Rev Dr Stephen Croft, the Archbishops’ Missioner and leader of Fresh Expressions, writes: “There is significant encouragement for churches in this Tearfund research. A very substantial part of the population in the UK still attends church regularly or occasionally during the year. Christians are not (as yet) the tiny minority that some would suggest. This statistic alone has major implications not only for the churches but for public debate and public policy.”
Dr Croft says the report highlights a clear opportunity for churches to attract new members by tapping into the nearly three million (six per cent of UK adults) who are likely to go to church in future. The survey revealed that a personal invite, family or a friend attending or difficult personal circumstances, are most likely to encourage people into church.
The survey highlights that the biggest challenge remains people opting out of religion altogether. Two thirds of UK adults (66 per cent) or 32.2 million people have no connection with church at present (or with any other religion).