Bishop Richard reflects on the figures which an increase in weekly attendance, stating that our growth agenda is clearly the right focus for the diocese.
Bishop Richard has said that figures which show a 4.9% increase in average weekly attendance are “extremely encouraging” and show that our growth agenda is clearly the right focus for the diocese. The Bishop was commenting on figures produced by the national church based on our statistic for mission returns. These confirm our announcement that we are a growing diocese.
The figures also show a 2.3% rise in those attending church on an average Sunday and a 1.7% increase on usual Sunday attendance. They also reveal that nearly 39,000 attended a Christmas Day service in 2011 with attendance on Easter Day being just short of 31,000 people.
National figures also showed a 7.5% rise in child baptisms across the country with adult baptisms rising by 5.1%.
Bishop Richard said “these extremely encouraging figure show sustained growth over the last couple of years. They reflect that in different ways and in different contexts our parishes and deaneries have responded to Bishop James’ challenge. But we must maintain the momentum. This is our growth agenda, our response to Jesus’ command to make disciples, our effort to work with the spirit to further God’s kingdom. I am worried about complacency. We cannot accept the attitude that I just want my church to remain until I die we must think about the church we are leaving for our children and our children’s children.
"We need to continue engage with the longings of people’s hearts and souls. Our experience is of growing numbers coming for the big celebratory services at Christmas and Easter. Also I am delighted that the baptism figures clearly show that large numbers of people still come to church for the celebrations in their lives. The figures show the relevance and importance of church in today’s society. Our challenge is to continue to find ways to continue to attract people to worship. I want church to accessible to today’s generations while remaining authentic to the Bible and the traditions which have sustained us over the centuries.
"Church today is not the church of people’s childhood or their memory. It should offer the same but in a way that works for the 21st century. We must continue to take action and look at what we can do to build on these figures. Maybe you need to start by reviewing where your church is in relation to your actions under the Growth Planning Framework? Whatever you do you can start from a strong position, we must not let that slip.”
We are a growing diocese
In June 2012 Bishop James was able to announce that we are a growing diocese stating “It is a source of thankfulness to God that I can tell you today we are a growing Diocese. In both children and adults, across the entire week, during the week, Sunday by Sunday and growing faster, wider and deeper than we thought.”
That announcement was supported by early indications of national figures coupled with research into our growing number of fresh expressions. Current national figures don’t reflect these expressions which we have pioneered in our diocese.
One of the key strengths of our diocese is the ability to offer a variety of church and to offer the best in the style of church we offer. It is about looking forward, proclaiming the Gospel afresh and being authentic about what we do. And there are plenty of ways in which we can do this. From taking part in Back to Church Sunday, becoming a Child Friendly Church or establishing an expression of church that connects with those in your community or network, the tools exist to help us consider how we can grow. And the growth team at St James House can offer expert advice and support.
Liverpool Diocese statistics at a glance 2011
Ave Wkly Atten 28,600 (+ 4.9%)
Ave Sund Atten 22,900 (+2.3%)
Usual Sun Atten 19,200
Christmas Day Atten 38,700
Easter Day Atten 30,800