More than 2,000 churches in the United Kingdom have closed in the last decade, according to a new report.
The report from Brierley Research Consultancy found that the church closures have led to a decline in attendance and, thus, a decline in donations and tithing.
While about half of the country’s population said they identified as Christian, just 6 percent said they were practicing and active enough to attend church at least once a month, Christianity Today reports.
Over the last 10 years, the number of churches in the United Kingdom has fallen from about 42,000 to 39,800.
“If you were running a commercial organization, and you had a branch on every single High Street in the country but dwindling numbers of people visiting them, you would go bust if you didn’t close some branches,” said Theos senior fellow Nick Spencer. “That is the reality facing the church.
“If you have churches in rural areas, and there are fewer people going into them, and indeed fewer people living in rural areas, and you don’t have the money to keep churches going, then they’re likely to close,” he added.
Meanwhile, a report from the Church of England found that some 368 churches could face closure in the next two to five years.
“A historic and beautiful church building reminds you that you are part of a bigger story than your own life, one that spans the centuries,” wrote Lucy Winkett, rector of St. James’s Church in Piccadilly. “The truth is that as people and as a society, we need church buildings. At their best, they are public spaces with low barriers to entry (thresholds) that are open just because they’re open, free and easy to enter, inclusive, adaptable, beautiful, with a strong tradition of connection across time and space.”
But many congregations have turned to other spaces to meet and have been focusing on church planting where they can best serve the community.
“I’ve never known such innovation in the UK, with church planting in different places in different communities,” said Gavin Calver, CEO of the Evangelical Alliance UK. “People are planting churches in coffee shops or in homes, and a lot of this church planting wouldn’t be measured. I’m excited about a fresh move of God in the UK, and the measure for that will not be how many church buildings we have, it’ll be how many active disciples we have, and I’m not sure those two things give you the same answer.”
Photo courtesy: ©GettyImages/RobertCrum
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.