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More students attend church than anyone else in uni cities

Thu 29 Mar 2018
By Cara Bentley

Church of England data has revealed that students at three of the country's oldest university cities are more likely to attend church than the general public.

Almost 5,000 people regularly attend services at 44 of the chapels across the universities with over half being students at the weekend.

On an average Sunday, 1,685 students attended services, with the number of non-student adults at 1,145.

Rev Professor Anthony Bash, who teaches at the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham and is a chaplain told Premier: "I think it is true that numbers are declining in terms of people who attend church services and I think there's a general drop with the ways people engage with institutional forms of religion but that's not to say that's there's any decline in interest in things we might call spiritual".

"What I observed from among students is that there's a great hunger to explore questions to do with spirituality."

Rev Bash added: "If we present a formulaic, dogmatic, doctrinaire response we observe it's a great turn-off to students."

When asked what the Church can learn from these figures, he said: "I think some churches have already learnt the lesson that traditional patterns of church life and church services just don't attract people who are under 30 or under 40 and we need to rethink and reimagine how to reach this segment of the population.

"Where churches are doing that we are seeing exciting growth and people discovering and exploring faith."

Rev Bash explained that churches need to recognise the make-up of their parish: "They key is to listen to what people are saying and thinking and seek to adapt forms and patterns of worship that serve that constituency."

He explained that sometimes there is a tension between what more traditional, older people want and what other groups want: "the Church is going to have to increasingly face the fact that it's no longer one size fits all".

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