Church services featuring outstretched bible readings, traditionally sung hymns, uncomfortable wooden pews, old-fashioned worshipping inside a grand imposing yet brisk building have little appeal to younger generations with numbers dwindling. Church Army, a Christian missionary organisation, published worrying research recently suggesting 0.5% of younger people aged 18- to 24-years-old currently attend church regularly. The Archbishops Council published a report in January 2018 containing guidance to leaders, encouraging them to captivate fresh Christian followers. Considering turnout continues to fall, building numbers of young people, attracting new faces has become a crucial, significant concern to religious leaders nationwide. 

BBC iWonder claims 37.6 million people are Christian in the United Kingdom, out of a total population of 65 million. Nevertheless, despite almost one in every two claiming to follow Christianity, only three percent of young people actually attended church on Christmas Day according to Sky News. Church attendance has fallen dramatically, Faith Survey released an attendance document comparing figures showing weekly attendance falling from 6,484,300 in 1980 to 3,081,500 later in 2015. As a percentage of the population, attendance has fallen from 11.8% to 5% in a thirty-five-year period. Turning fortunes around, from bleak forecasts, has lead churches to change approaches.

St Peter’s Church of Harrow is a vibrant, Anglican, modern church in North West London. Aiming, through a mixture of conventional service with contemporary ways to build a community of followers of all age groups. Attending church on Sunday, especially not as a regular punter, comes with certain preconceptions, of what to expect. Helen Wolstencroft, Head of Youth Mission, prior to conducting proceedings sat down with me, oddly inside a chapel, to tell how St Peter’s draws in young Londoners. “Some who haven’t grown up in church might think it’s a big old building, something out there they don’t understand” however as Helen says upon arrival hopefully they will see it as “more than just a building”, more of a community. Helen didn’t grow up a Christian but was drawn in thanks to its community.

Meeting other people made her see Christianity as interesting says Helen Wolstencroft from St Peters Church.

Little persuasion was required to get me to attend a Sunday evening six thirty worship, St Peter’s youth-focused, relaxed, contemporary service. Gone were mundane talks, dull proceedings instead a small stage hosted a contemporary Christian band alongside talks from church leaders. Having previous experience with Contemporary Christian Music meant songs sung rungs bells with me already, nonetheless even without background knowledge this service felt most welcoming. Two hours was enough to change my views, making me even consider returning. Perhaps greater publicity could be an answer to Christianity’s, well religion altogether, a problem then? To change people’s perception. Fancy trying it yourself? Searching, as I’m reliably informed, for ‘youth church services’ brings up everything you’d ever need to know. Recorded from St Peter’s Sunday service, here’s a musical performance to finish, a rendition of ‘Great Are You Lord’.

Click to be taken to YouTube to watch the cover of All Sons & Daughters, ‘Great Are You Lord’: https://youtu.be/xtXp-6WvRpI

This report is written and produced by Stephen Bailey.

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