How are we looking?
During 2015, we carried out a survey which revealed more than 46,000 people worship in the 557 FIEC churches and on average we’re seeing 800 people baptised every year. But it showed up some challenges too as Andrew Nicholson explains.
At our Leaders’ Conference in November 2014 we unveiled FIEC’s strategic plan. It set out how we plan to envision, encourage and equip our family of churches as well as engaging on their behalf at a national level.
This survey was designed to help us understand more about the churches and how best we can serve them, as well as finding out if we are reaching the objectives in our strategic plan.
More than 8 out of 10 churches (84%) responded to the survey. It asked about many aspects of church life and witness including regular services, outreach activities and membership numbers.
I extrapolated the figures to give us a wider understanding of their ministry.
What did the data show?
The results suggest that more than 46,000 people attend FIEC churches and that 800 baptisms took place in the previous 12 months. That’s the equivalent of around 16 every week.
Meanwhile, FIEC churches are reaching – on average – 40,000 people every week through regular activities and outreach events.
While the statistics show plenty of encouragements, they also revealed some big challenges.
The data showed that around 9,000 children regularly attend our churches – one fifth (20%) of the total congregation. This is a decrease from around one third (32%) in the 1980s. It also revealed that although churches seemed to be seeing more people, many were attending less often – with a fifth of those 46,000 defined as attending church “at least once a month”.
What can we learn from the data?
It’s really difficult for us to say what these statistics prove because we are not comparing like for like data. For example, our survey showed a 10% increase in attendance at our churches compared to 2003 but we have more affiliated churches today than we did back then. On top of that, some of this will be “transfer-growth” as Christians move between churches.
However, the figure of 800 baptisms across the 557 churches was really encouraging. As the vast majority of FIEC churches practice believers’ baptism this is a wonderful picture of people becoming Christians in God’s goodness.
The statistics also showed us more than 50 of our churches are investigating the possibility of planting a new church in 2015/16.
But we know there is no room for complacency. We estimate that less than one in 20 (5%) of the British population are born-again Christians, so the gospel challenge we face is significant.
We made a summary of our data survey available at our Leaders’ Conference in November, but if you would like a copy then you can download a PDF here.
We’re now working on resources to help pastors and church leaders to deal with some of the issues revealed by the survey – if you feel you can help us to better understand some of the trends it reveals, please let us know.
Now we hope to carry out similar research which will be published in time for our Leaders’ Conference in 2017 and provide like for like data as we look at how FIEC churches are working together to help reach our nation for Christ.