Response to census showing people who identify as Christian is now 46.2% of the population

29 November 2022

Faith leaders at the Methodist Church say they believe that while figures from the Office for National Statistics show fewer people in England and Wales describing themselves as Christian, this may not indicate a decline in those seeking answers to questions around faith and spirituality.

The Census 2021 for England and Wales revealed that the number of people who identify as Christian was now 46.2% of the population, down from 59.3% in the last census of 2011.

The Methodist Church recognises the need to explore how Christianity can remain relevant in today’s society and how it continues to spread the Good News in a changing world.

The President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Graham Thompson, commented;  “The figures may show a decline in the number of people identifying as Christian but experience suggests that more people are recognising that which is spiritual and are open to conversations about faith and the difference that faith can make.  This is a space into which we can speak of our faith in Jesus and His call to love God and love our neighbours.  The Methodist people seek to do this each day and we encourage others to try to do the same.”

Graham’s comments were supported by Trey Hall, the Methodist Church’s Director of Evangelism & Growth, “It's important for the Church to be wide awake to changing demographics, cultural shifts and emerging social patterns in order to live in and serve the real world.  Interestingly, as fewer people describe themselves with traditional religious identities, there seems to be an increasing interest in spirituality, especially among younger generations.

“The Church is being challenged to discover new forms and spaces for spiritual exploration and faith discovery with new friends and partners; to listen afresh, to love learning, to start and deepen new relationships in our communities.

“In the Methodist Church, we are committed to starting hundreds of New Places for New People, which may look very different from past spaces and forms of Christianity even as they integrate the wisdom of previous generations and explore it afresh. And that's a wonderful thing!”