One group says that the decline in attendance may be bottoming out.
The number of Christian worshippers in Britain is hard to pin down. Do you count regular Sunday worshippers, occasional pew-fillers, or people who don't even go to church but still profess to believe in a Christian God?
Whatever figure you take, it has clearly been in decline for generations. Regular worshippers were estimated at around 6 million in 1980, falling to 4.4 million in 2000 and 4 million in 2005.
Yet recent research by Tearfund, a Christian charity, suggests the decline may be bottoming out. Tearfund says numbers are on the increase, though attendance may not be as regular as it once was. Its research found that 7.3 million attended church at least once a month in the year to September 2008 – and 12.8 million attended once a year. "We have noticed that in the last year, there has been a significant increase in monthly attendance," says chief executive Matthew Frost. "Our understanding is that more people are attending now than before, even if that is only a couple of times a year.... This might mean going to church at one of the high points in their family's year, such as Christmas or Easter, or attending Sunday services or midweek events."