The average age of Christians in England and Wales has jumped by six years over the past decade, putting the figure above 50 for the first time in census history.
Christianity remains the nation’s ‘official’ religion; more than a few dozen Church of England bishops hold their seats in the House of Lords and almost half of UK bank holidays mark significant events on the Christian calendar. Even English buns remain crossed and its truth ‘gospel.’ But the British people themselves are more and more disinterested in faith—or, at least, in the story and teachings of Christ.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) census data from 2011 put the average age of Christians at 45, a figure that rose to 51 by 2021. The average age of Muslims in England and Wales is far lower, at 27 (just two years higher than a decade ago). Those who subscribe to no religion have an average age of 32 (previously 30), with more than half (53%) of 27-year-olds describing themselves as atheists. The average age of the overall population is 40.
Ongoing trends would suggest that the average age of Christians in England and Wales will continue to rise while the proportion of Christians in British society falls lower and lower (they already form a “minority” group), but the Church insists it is “exploring ways” to turn this around. Responding to the data, Dr. Stephen Hance, the Church of England’s national lead on evangelism, told The Daily Telegraph:
Every generation needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ, and we certainly don’t underestimate the need to connect with Generation Z. That is why we have made it one of the Church of England’s key priorities for this decade.
We know that younger people today are less likely to have been brought up in the Christian faith than in the past. But while they may be less familiar with its message, that doesn’t mean they are less open to faith.
The church, both locally and nationally, is exploring ways of connecting with Generation Z through traditional means and new forms of communication.
With its position in society weakened, the Church is now facing pressure from parliament, including from leading Conservative Party officials, to relent regarding its principles on questions of morality; most recently on gay marriage—an issue which the Tory party not so long ago promised to leave for religious leaders.