New report reveals rise in church attendance

A new report shows that Easter Day churchgoing in the Diocese of Oxford has recovered to 73% of pre-pandemic levels.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many churches found themselves closed for long periods of time and the need to adapt the usual in person worship service offering. Once churches were able to reopen, they still needed to observe Covid-19 guidelines until February 2022, this meant church attendance looked different from pre-pandemic numbers.

The world of church attendance changed considerably during the pandemic, with churches finding new and creative ways to facilitate 'Church at Home'. Although many churches continued to use printed materials plus email and phone services to reach people in their homes, most started to offer online services. Many of these began with clergy using mobile phones and laptops in their vicarages and live-streaming worship and prayers to Facebook and Zoom.

Churches in the four dioceses of Canterbury, Lichfield, Oxford, and Rochester were invited to register their Easter Day attendance figures online immediately after Easter to give an early indication of attendance patterns and trends compared with 2019.

Andrew Anderson-Gear, Director of Mission and Ministry in the Diocese of Oxford, said:

“These new statistics are a great encouragement that people are continuing to engage with church across the diocese, despite the disruptions of the pandemic. ‘Church at Home’ offerings have enabled those who are too frail or ill to attend in person, those who want to catch up later, and those who are exploring Christianity and church to still be part of a worshipping community.

“It was always likely that the shock of Covid-19 lockdowns would adversely impact attendance in our churches, but it has also offered new opportunities for churches to engage with their congregations and communities in missionally creative ways.”

Across the Diocese of Oxford, the main findings were:

  • Average onsite attendance for Easter Day was 73% of 2019.
  • Smaller churches appear to have recovered their onsite attendance better than larger churches.
  • The main form of ‘Church at Home’ (via live streaming or pre-recorded services) is now online through YouTube.
  • The number of churches offering ‘Church at Home’ has been decreasing with larger churches more likely to offer Church at Home (81%) – but even at Easter 2022 there were still 40% of churches offering a form of Church at Home. (59% at October 2021).
  • If online and in-person church attendance figures are combined, total Easter Day attendance was about the same as at Easter 2019.
  • At Easter 2022, churches with no ‘Church at Home’ offering had 79% of their 2019 onsite attendance compared to churches with a Church at Home offering at 68%.


Notes to Editors

For media enquiries and interview requests, please contact Madeleine Hayden / 07880 716 761

The Diocese of Oxford report can be accessed via the Easter attendance page of the website and the four-diocese report is available here.

About the Diocese of Oxford 

The Diocese of Oxford is the Church of England in the Thames Valley region of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. There are 808 churches in 626 parishes, the largest number of churches of any diocese in the Church of England. The diocese is also home to almost schools and academies educating some 60,000 pupils.  

Page last updated: 22nd June 2022 1:06 PM